Thursday, April 26, 2007

The CMS Debate - How to Counsel Your Clients - Part 2

This is a continuation of the previous entry. Here is another crucial consideration when determining if a CMS is the right solution for your client.

Client resources: While a CMS is intended to simplify the ongoing content management process, this work still represents a time commitment. Often, when a client team intends on assuming this responsibility, the resource requirements are underestimated. In these cases, the results can be disappointing, since the primary goal of a CMS is client self-sufficiency. There have been countless CMS implementations that end up with the CMS never even being utilized - let's call it 'CMS abandonment'. The websites become outdated and the initial investment is essentially lost. Knowing this is a possibility, there are some measures the agency can take to try and prevent, or at least mitigate, these issues. First, any agency implementing a CMS must include client training as part of the solution. If the client team doesn't feel comfortable with the application, it will be very hard to convert them to users - and remember, the more the client uses the CMS, the greater chance that the entire initiative will be viewed as a success. Even after training is provided, expect the client to require support from time to time. To properly manage this, the agency should recommend a maintenance bank of hours to support the client - even if it's simply a back-up plan.

In the end, the onus for preventing CMS abandonment falls largely on the agency - all the risks and issues described in this and the previous entry need to be raised with the client during the planning stages of a project, so that the entire team is aware of the issues associated with the solution, and the steps that can be taken to make the implementation effective long-term.

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