[thelist] CMS: opensource or hand-roll?

Martin Burns martin at easyweb.co.uk
Wed Sep 17 18:19:59 CDT 2008

On 17 Sep 2008, at 21:57, Christie Mason wrote:

> Off the Shelf (OTS), open source or otherwise,  can be fine for some  
> very
> defined situations and a horror story in other situations.  Generally
> speaking I've found that starting off with an OTS version can be OK  
> for
> prototyping but then you run into a decision point where their  
> processes
> can't be supported by the OTS software.

Which 99% of the time means: over-engineered process; score double for  
over-engineered workflow.

And you're right, if it's too hard to follow the process with the new  
tool, they'll ditch the process, the tool, or both.

Example: a UK government department (no names, no packdrill) developed  
a formal workflow for their CMS (this being the best part of 10 years  
ago, so we're talking lots of money here for licensing of workflow- 
support) to ensure that nothing unapproved ever was published. And  
anyone who's worked with the UK public sector will understand how  
important CYA is.

Except, at the last minute, they asked for an emergency workflow, for  
those situations when events were happening too fast; whether that be  
natural disaster, or just the news cycle. This consisted of a single  
approval, without even separation of users; an empowered user could  
write and publish to live almost instantly.

Last I heard (again, a few years back), they were using the emergency  
workflow for everything.

The thing is, part of your job should be to help them guard against  
over-engineered process; even if it's their existing one, not one  
designed for your new CMS. You've got tonnes of experience of web  
publishing in the real world that you've learned from; they haven't  
(at least, not if they're over-engineering their processes).

Nearly all OTS CMSs will support all reasonable process; either out of  
the box or with modules. And if not, then the CMS will support  
critical touchpoints in offline processes (eg: you need email  
confirmation from a designated manager approving a publish before  
hitting the 'publish' button in the CMS).

In all cases, don't take as gospel "The CMS must support *this*  
process" type requirements. Dig a little. Challenge a bit. Explore the  
sensitivities and history. Help a lot.

(who has experience of defining system support for full marketing  
communications process via this kind of thing:
http://www.aprimo.com/uk/products/mrm.asp )

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