Category Archives: Content Management System

Content Management System

Book Review: SharePoint for Nonprofits

SharePoint for Nonprofits

I recently received a copy of the new book “SharePoint for Nonprofits: The Definitive Guide to SharePoint for your Nonprofit, Association, Charity and .ORG” by my friends Sean Bordner and John Stover.  If you’ve ever had the chance to work with these guys or attend any of their presentations, you know that they are passionate about SharePoint. Their enthusiasm for the platform is also evident in their writing. 

I would recommend this book for any association professional who is about to embark on a website CMS selection process, who is exploring new ways to manage association data, or for those who have responsibility for managing or supervising use of the SharePoint platform in an association environment. 

The book begins by defining SharePoint simply as “software used to build web sites” and then expands that thesis to a more robust explanation loosely translated to – a single platform that is used across your entire organization, inside and out to increase productivity, standardize documents, templates, business processes, applications and even your application platform.

If you’re not familiar with SharePoint, that definition may sound complicated; however, the authors use real world examples of how associations are using the software to make it easy to understand.  This is not a technical reference book on the how-to’s of SharePoint.  It was not written for the programmer and developers.  Instead, it’s written for anyone hoping to learn how SharePoint’s features offer real world solutions to common business process issues. What distinguishes this book from other SharePoint books is that these guys also understand the nonprofit sector.  They understand membership and donor based organizations and the unique challenges that association executives struggle with everyday.

The format allows you to skip around to the sections that are of most interest to you.  It includes sections dealing with management topics of project planning, governance, and user adoption.  It provides a nice orientation to the SharePoint terminology and spends time explaining hosting and licensing options.   

You can order a copy for yourself on Lulu.

The CMS Circle of Life

A question on a recent survey from .org Source and AssociationCIO got me thinking about the impact of Content Management Systems (CMS) on the content generation process used by associations. The question is:

How do other departments provide content for the site?

  1. Input directly using a content management system
  2. Send web content/wording to the website editor/managing department
  3. Provide information to the website editor/managing department for them to write web content
  4. Other (Please Specify):

If you haven’t already taken this survey, check it out  before it closes.  While I wait for the results, I’m going to go out on a limb and guess that most of us wish our answer to the above question is option 1, but its more likely 2 or 3. 

During the needs assessment stage of web redesign projects, I’ve seen staff vocalize frustrations with the bottleneck though the web editor to publish new information to the association website. If the web editor takes any time off, inevitably, there is a crisis that requires new content that must be published to the site immediately.  Sound familiar?

Enter the CMS sales team. Hallelujah! The entire staff gets psyched about the easy to use tools and the ability to create new items for the website themselves. Management gets excited about the concept of style sheets and workflows to support a cohesive editorial control, style, and brand image. CMS – the answer to all of our woes!

The contract is signed and implementation begins. Business processes are outlined and configured with the desired approvals in place. Everyone is trained. And when the new site is ready, workflow notifications are turned on.

Then–approval workflows are turned off. At least that is my experience. And conversations with peers indicate that this is not uncommon. 

Within a short amount of time, the association has a new site with a refreshed looks, but the old habits return. Staff revert to the centralized, bottleneck process to post content to the new site. I find myself wondering why this occurs.  Could it be that:

  • Staff designated as” approvers” balk at the flurry of emails the workflow system generates and insist that it is turned off.
  • Editors fail to approve content they didn’t know was pending (because notifications have been turned off) until the web administrator is instructed to override the approval process to publish the new content.
  • Staff who complain about the bottleneck in the earlier system complain that creating new web pages  is “not my job” and instead send PDF files to the web editor to publish for them.
  • Staff originally trained as “content contributors” leave the association and replacement staff are not trained on the CMS system.

Fast forward 3 years and the association may find itself conducting another assessment wondering if they should explore new technology solutions to cure their organizational pain points. Oh -the circle of life.

This is not a technology issue but an issue with organization culture and change management.  Are the problems outlined above the reasons that we fail to impact change in our business processes? If not, what others would you add to the list? Have you seen this pattern in associations you’ve worked with? How about any success stories? I’d love to hear examples from associations who are taking advantage of CMS functionality using distributed content generation and approval workflows. How did you break the cycle?