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?

Making it Official

For almost a year now, I’ve been calling myself an accidential consultant.  I didn’t have aspirations of being self employed, but an opportunity lead me down this path.   After much thought, I decided to finally make it official. 

My father-in-law retired last year and began his consultancy, so the basic “Shonerd Consulting” is already taken in this family tree.  This forced me to be a bit more creative.  I’ve settled on Half Moon Consulting as a wink and a nod to my maiden name and filed the appropriate paperwork with the state.

That brings me to this point of launching this site and this blog where I plan to share insights, experiences, and observations  about technology issues in the association industry.  I have interests in association management systems, websites, social media technologies, online marketing, and other general technology issues. 

Please chime in to these posts adding your thoughts and ideas and feel free to contact me with feedback and suggestions.  Enjoy!