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Save time, save money - these are the tenets of content management. With hundreds of content management vendors and systems - ranging in price from free to millions of dollars once implemented - choosing the right system for your organization can be daunting.

In short, content management describes the process of easily creating, managing and publishing online content with neither programming nor technical skills. Easy and effective content management is achieved through the deployment of a content management system (CMS) that is either custom built or purchased as an off-the-shelf solution. However, without a well-defined content plan, evaluating and choosing a CMS may prove disastrous.

"Strategically aligning your Portal vision, through proper strategy and planning, is quickly becoming the first step in Portal Content Management System projects to ensure a successful implementation," says Steve Cohen, PowerCentral Product Manager for the PowerCentral CMS product of Anzer IT Solutions.

One prominent financial services firm (that wishes, for obvious reasons, to remain anonymous) purchased a CMS for about $1.5 million. The CMS limited the number of publishers, it limited the number of pages that could be stored and published, and it proved unstable. Worst of all, the company that supported the product went bankrupt, leaving the client with no support. A little more than one year after they implemented the CMS, they decided to scrap it. One wonders if the outcome would be different had they properly addressed requirements and constructed a thorough content management plan.

"I've seen so many organizations that have got burned because they didn't spend the time to really figure out what they wanted," says Gerry McGovern, a Dublin, Ireland-based Web content guru and consultant. "Not all content management systems are the same - not by a long shot. And just because you spend a lot of money on a system doesn't mean that it will do what you need it to do."

An organization typically requires a CMS when it creates and publishes large volumes of content, or the publishing process is too time consuming and inefficient, or if there are so many publishers that the existing system has no standardized approach to efficiently publish, store and organize content for user consumption. Many problems including 'information overload' and search engine ineffectiveness explain why content management continues to be one of the most pressing and important issues facing Internet and intranet site managers.


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