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Enterprise Content Management

Content management systems

Enterprise content management systems are sometimes the best business solution. Some companies manage perfectly well with one web developer who uploads all the pages using a file transfer system such as FTP. However, many company sites are too big for that kind of approach. If you have a large, frequently-changing site with dynamic content and a number of different content contributors, you should consider buying an enterprise content management system. However, such systems are only as good as the businesses that use them. To get the most out of every technological feature, you need to invest in training and organizational structures. Even the best enterprise content management system won't solve all your problems without that kind of investment.

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So what should you be looking for in a system? First of all, you need to look at the system's access, security and workflow capabilities. (See our page on web content management system s for more information on access and security.) Enterprise content management is more difficult if your company is spread over different sites, especially if those sites are in different time zones. This makes it impractical to rely on one person as the conduit for all web content, because physical distance and temporal differences cause delays. A good enterprise content management system allows a trusted person - or several trusted people - in each company location to have access to the website. That way you avoid bottlenecks in the uploading process.

The flipside of access is security. Web-friendly information should be published as quickly and easily as possible, but certain information, such as trade secrets, is never intended to reach the public domain. A good enterprise content management system will have built-in security, usually involving passworded access. Some systems use encryption techniques for sensitive data. The more advanced the encryption, the more likely you are to deter hackers.

Workflow is another important aspect of a good content management system. A workflow management system means that the right people are doing the right things to the content at the right time. However, an enterprise content management system can only go part of the way to ensuring this; you also need to have the organizational structure in place, and make sure that everyone involved is clear about their role and their deadlines. The system can only support the processes that are already in place, but it can be useful. For example, Person A's job might be to edit raw content to fit the house style, but they might struggle to keep track of what has been submitted by each writer and which work is outstanding. A content management system might provide an "in-tray" for Person A, a shared folder where writers can leave their content. Then the system could provide an automated alert - usually by email - so that Person A will know immediately when new content is in the folder, rather than having to repeatedly check. Such an alert system can be adapted to help with communication between content managers.

A good content management system will have the main features outlined above - access, security and workflow capabilities - but before you buy one you should think about whether your site really needs one. If your site is large enough to justify the purchase of an enterprise content management system, you will also need to expend some company resources on getting the most out of that system. That means proper training in the technologies involved, as well as creating efficient procedures for using the system.