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Balancing CMS and CCMS implementation (podcast, part 2)

In episode 143 of The Content Strategy Experts Podcast, Gretyl Kinsey and Christine Cuellar are back discussing the common tripping points companies stumble over while implementing their content management system (CMS) and their component content management system (CCMS). This is part two of a two-part podcast.

“If you’ve got people working in a web CMS and you’ve got people working in a CCMS, and they’ve always worked separately, and then suddenly you ask them to come together and collaborate and maybe have one group or the other choose a new tool so that they can share content, but they’ve never had that process of working together, there’s going to have to be not just a tool solution to get them working together, but a people solution and a whole different mindset in the way that they work together.”

— Gretyl Kinsey

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Christine Cuellar: Welcome to the Content Strategy Experts podcast, brought to you by Scriptorium. Since 1997, Scriptorium has helped companies manage, structure, organize, and distribute content in an efficient way. Hi, I’m Christine Cuellar. In this episode, Gretyl Kinsey and I are back continuing our discussion about implementing your CMS and your CCMS. And today, we’re specifically talking about the tripping points that your company should watch out for and other tools to consider as you’re going about this implementation. This is part two of a two-part podcast. Thanks, Gretyl, for coming back on the show.

Gretyl Kinsey: Absolutely.

CC: So what are some more tripping points that can trip organizations up when they’re implementing their web CMS and their CCMS?

GK: Yeah, one big one is kind of what we were talking about with those competing priorities, right? So we talked about having the competing priorities between the creative side and more of the marketing customer facing side versus people who need more structure in their content because of legal and regulatory requirements. And what this often looks like at an organization is that you’ve got your web CMS people, and then your DITA CCMS people and those competing priorities. And one thing that we see a lot of times as a tripping point or something that gets them tripped up when they have to look at maybe aligning on tool selection or getting new systems working together is figuring out how to strike that balance we talked about so that they’re not competing priorities, but they’re instead aligning their priorities. So we do see a lot of common areas where they struggle to come into alignment.

And a few things, a few examples of things where I’ve seen this go wrong are where each group is choosing their own tools without communicating about it. That happens a lot of times, especially if there isn’t really proper involvement from management. People have just been told this group, this department, pick a tool that is going to improve what you’re doing. And then of course you have a whole other department somewhere else that’s being told the same thing. They’re not talking to each other about it at all. And then eventually down the road, they’ve picked their tools, they’re all established, and then something comes up where they realize that they needed those tools to be compatible for sharing content or connecting to each other, and then they can’t. Because when they were choosing the tools, they didn’t think about that. They didn’t talk to each other. So then they’re stuck in a really expensive and painful mess to fix if they need to get past that problem.

So that’s something that we have been called in as consultants to help fix several times, and that we’ve seen organizations take that path without really stopping and thinking, before we evaluate and choose a tool, we’ve got to get all the different groups who might have a use for that tool or need to integrate tools talking to each other. So that’s one big thing that can go wrong. Another one is related to how the upper management at an organization does or does not prioritize content. So one issue we see a lot is where, let’s say one type of content gets prioritized over another, and we’ve seen some examples where they have a very heavy emphasis on training content. Let’s say this organization has an educational focus. It’s all about learning. It’s about the training materials. So maybe they focus on something like a learning management system, but they don’t realize that they also have to deliver some legal documentation.

They also are going to be marketing their services, and they don’t think about aligning all the different tools that these groups are going to be working on. And once again, it’s too late, right? And so what happens when the management is really prioritizing one type of content over all the others, is that when these different groups have those competing priorities, management’s decision makes one group the winner and everybody else the losers when it comes to their priorities.

CC: Oh, yeah.

GK: And so that can make things really tricky if the groups need to work together, but there’s clearly one group being favored, and being given all the budget and all the resources while the others’ needs are being ignored. And then of course, the even worse situation is when upper management does not care about content at all. They don’t really think about content as a priority for the business. And so that’s bad for any or all groups who produce content. So if you’ve got the situation of, let’s say people in a web CMS and people in a CCMS, for example, and those groups both need to be aligning and improving the work that they’re doing, but management doesn’t care about content at all, then that just leaves it as the groups having to fend for themselves, and it kind of can turn into a free for all of the competing priorities because they don’t have any guidance for management.

So I think that’s a really important thing when you’re looking at content from more of the bird’s eye view where we come in as consultants, is we look at not just the content creators, but we look at the different levels of management and particularly the highest level and how much do they prioritize content, and how does that affect their decisions, because that obviously has an effect on the groups producing the content and really can make or break the work they’re doing.

CC: Yeah. And it also affects the business because content is a really big asset in your business, to really bring value to your customers to make your operations flow very smoothly. So I would say that the business is also losing out when you don’t prioritize content. So a lot of times, that resource does go, I guess, untapped.

GK: Absolutely. And then we also see groups struggling to align on their priorities and their tool selection because they’ve always been siloed. So that gets back to sort of what we talked about earlier where you want to avoid those silos just because this is something that can happen. If you’ve got people working in a web CMS and you’ve got people working in a CCMS, and they’ve always worked separately, and then suddenly you ask them to come together and collaborate and maybe have one group or the other choose a new tool so that they can share content, but they’ve never had that process of working together, then there’s going to have to be not just a tool solution to get them working together, but a people solution and a whole different mindset in the way that they work together.

So that can really be challenging for tool selection as well. Because if these people have never even talked to each other, and then you’re asking them to come together and evaluate some new software for one or both groups, then it’s going to make that process, I think, a lot trickier than if they had been working together all along.

CC: Okay. So we’ve seen how upper management not prioritizing content causes a lot of issues. How would you recommend upper management start to be active so that the content departments, all of them, can really feel supported, and they can get the most out of their content?

GK: Yeah. So I think it comes down to a lot of what you said, actually realizing that content is an asset for your business and making it a priority. And then within that, upper management should be taking an active role in helping these groups to choose the tools that are going to work for everyone and benefit the entire organization, and not just leave it up to an individual department to say, “Hey, make a decision.” If you are going to invest in a new system for your organization, then I think it really behooves you as a manager, or especially even at the C level, to make sure that you have a hand in that evaluation and that the tools that you’re selecting are going to benefit the entire company. And then another thing is realizing all the different things that content can do for the business and continuing to invest resources in it.

And that’s not just tools, but also people, making sure that your content creators are going to be maximizing the value and the potential of your content. And the more that you put into that content, the more you’re going to get out of it. So making it that priority. And then of course, taking a leadership role in fostering communication between groups that might have those competing priorities or those competing needs. So this is an area, where I think in particular, we’ve seen it be helpful to bring in an outside voice like a consultant, just because even if you are in upper management and you’ve got sort of that bird’s eye view of your organization, you still are not going to necessarily have the objectivity of an outsider. And so…

CC: Yeah.

GK: … it might help a lot if you’re struggling to get groups who have been, let’s say working in silos, or who are going to have to choose maybe a CMS over here and a CCMS over here. Getting them into alignment, it might just help to get a consultant in to really hone in on what some of the communication issues are, and then help move past it so that you can actually make that selection.

CC: Yeah, absolutely. Getting an outside perspective, I just feel like that always helps because they can see things that you’re not seeing or thinking of and be that third party unbiased voice that really guides you in the right direction. So what are some other tools that might need to be connected to a CCMS as well? I know we’ve talked about… I mean, the big one we’ve been talking about is a CMS and a CCMS. Are there other tools that need to be connected to a CCMS or even to the CMS?


GK: Absolutely. So one example, which I mentioned a little bit earlier, is an LMS or a learning management system. And again, if you are an organization that has a lot of training content, a lot of educational content, a lot of learning material, and that is both for in person or e-learning, or any other kind of non-classroom training, then a learning management system might be really beneficial for the process of storing and creating and managing that particular type of content. And then also another example would be TMS, or translation management system, and then lots of other related translation tools. So this is something we see really commonly if you have to deliver translated or localized content, and it becomes more and more important, so kind of focus that you put on those particular tools, the more languages that you have to translate into because this is really an area where both cost can be an issue, but then also where you have to get it right, because there are a lot of times those legal and regulatory requirements around delivering content in certain locations, in certain languages.

And so that’s something that you really want to make sure that you’re doing correctly so that nobody’s going to get into any trouble. And then another example of a tool you might need to be connected is a DAM, or a digital asset management system. And this is for storing and managing things like images, videos, other digital assets that are used in or delivered with your content. And a lot of times when you look at something like a CMS or a CCMS, those usually have the capability of storing digital assets, but where we see organizations leaning toward using a DAM is if your content is very heavy on digital assets and not just text, or if there’s a lot of sharing of digital assets that has to happen across groups. I know in particular, and we’ve seen this, where for example, if you’ve got heavy machinery and you have a lot of diagrams of not just the machinery, but all the little pieces and parts that go into it that you might be in charge of selling or doing maintenance on, that’s the kind of organization that might have a dam.

Or if material has to have a lot of screenshots and illustrations and things like that, where if you look through any documentation, you would see just as many images, if not more so than words, then that would be an example of an organization where having a dam might work. And with all of these kinds of tools, it’s sort of what we talked about with the connectivity, that you can have either the level one connectivity where they’re actually integrated, or sort of more of the level two where they’re disconnected but can still share content. And this is where it becomes really important to think about a content tool chain or content ecosystem rather than just a disconnected set of tools, right? Thinking about how you’re going to make all of these different tools that you need for different parts of your content processes actually work together as a single working ecosystem.

So if you do need a CMS and a CCMS, and then maybe an LMS, a TMS, a DAM, or any of these other things, then it’s important to think about how you can get them all working together efficiently so that you can get the best value possible out of your overall content production.

CC: Absolutely. And as you’re listening, if you’re in a similar situation trying to make these decisions or figure out what to do with all of these tools that we’ve been talking about, if you ever get stuck, there’s someone who can help, and it’s us. So if you ever have questions, feel free to contact our team. We’d love to help support and get you the information that you need.

GK: Absolutely.

CC: Gretyl, is there anything else you can think of that you want our listeners to be thinking about or understand about balancing their CMS and CCMS implementation that we haven’t already covered?

GK: I think the one last piece of advice I will leave everyone with is to take the time to plan, take the time to really think about and evaluate your priorities, and don’t rush into any purchasing decisions when it comes to these kinds of tools. Like I mentioned, these implementations are major undertakings. They are major investments. They shouldn’t be taken lightly. And if you really want to get the most out of having these different kinds of connected tools or connected systems, then it is imperative to take that time upfront and really do a proper evaluation so that you don’t get stuck with a really expensive purchasing decision that was not the best one for you.

CC: Awesome. Thanks. That’s great feedback. Well, thank you so much, Gretyl, for taking the time today to talk about this — twice!

GK: Absolutely. Thank you.

CC: And thank you for listening to the Content Strategy Experts Podcast, brought to you by Scriptorium. For more information, visit or check the show notes for relevant links.