Envisioning the Project

If this is the first time your organization has been introduced to a product with functionality like Content Management Server (CMS), then you'll need to ensure that you've planned for the "people" side of this engagement.

Unfortunately, most IT people are ill prepared for the political and interpersonal side of implementing technology change in an organization. It is one thing to ask your users to change operating systems or upgrade to a new version of Office; it is entirely another to ask your users to manage their information differently than they do today.

For example, if a content creator is accustomed to creating Web information in a Word document and then sending that document through an approval process before e-mailing it to the Webmaster for posting on the Web site, then the Authoring Connector is going to lead to changes in how content is posted to the Web site. Discussion about workflow, approval, and using the features of CMS will need to occur before you can deploy CMS to your overall environment. Moreover, although some of these discussions can take place during the pilot phase, it is better for you if they occur while you're still in the design and vision stage of the project. Keeping affected parties in the loop on upcoming changes in information management will help ensure that your project is deployed smoothly and that the changes are accepted by all in your organization. Don't underestimate the amount of culture and process change that CMS may introduce. This would be a grave mistake.

Remember that if you want to bring about change in your organization, you'll need the following five elements:

  • Champion: A person at vice president level or higher who is personally vested in seeing the project succeed. This person can help convince other people high in the organization of the importance of this project's success.

  • Grassroots support: You'll need some level of support from the folks who will use this project on a day-by-day basis. A good way to develop this is to throw a CMS party with food and beverages and then give them a demonstration on the cool features and time-saving elements of CMS.

  • Project definition: Your project needs to be defined in terms of objective criteria. Stay away from defining the project with relative terms like "more," "less," and so forth. Define the project in terms that are verifiable, such as numbers and/or percentages.

  • Project control: If you're going to get the blame if the project goes bad, then you should get the glory if the project goes well. If you can't control all aspects of the project, then ask for such control.

  • Approved, funded budget: There is no sense in doing any of this if the money isn't available to be spent on hardware, software, support, and training. Ensure that your project plan includes monies for all four aspects of the project.

Some of your efforts should focus on getting support from every affected party in your organization or in your customer's organization. This will mean doing things such as giving demonstrations, holding meetings, and discussing the cultural and information management changes that will occur by implementing CMS.

The importance of such meetings cannot be underestimated. One of your first objectives should be to get a person high in your organization on board with the vision of the project based on the benefits and cost savings CMS will introduce to your organization. If you can't get your top-level people on board with the project's vision, then it will be difficult to find funding for the project. Hence, getting a person at the vice president level or higher on board is a key to the success of any CMS deployment.

Once you have your top-level people sold on the CMS engagement, then it's time to make the rounds to your department heads and help them understand the benefits and goals of a CMS implementation. Inherent in these discussions should be the realization of the change in business processes and information management that will occur. You will have better credibility if you recognize these changes up front and discuss this with your department heads. These folks will be more open to change if they feel that they have input into the change process.

You'll also need to discuss how CMS will change your IT and Web-based departments. There might be positions that will become obsolete because of the ability for users to directly publish content from Word to the Web site.

Also, most content will need to go through an approval process before being placed on the Web site. Your workflow models may need to change to accommodate the features of CMS. This doesn't mean that you give up your approval processes, only that the way information is passed through the approval process may change because of the Authoring Connector.

When gathering the interested parties, you should talk to each party individually and then also address them as a group. The purpose of getting them all together is so that they can see and understand the needs of other groups, which may be dissimilar from their own needs. Enabling them to understand the needs of other groups in your organization will help everyone understand why some decisions are made that, at first, might appear foolish or unwise. Understanding the context in which decisions are made is often helpful to those who usually see only a portion of the overall project plan and focus.

Be sure to have your kickoff meeting to start the project only after you have secured your champion and buy-in from your department heads. This way, nobody is taken by surprise. Moreover, the kickoff meeting can be a time to get all the interested parties together and generate some excitement and enthusiasm for the project. It is also a great time to deliver the overall project plan, go over the vision once again, and ensure that everyone is on board with the CMS engagement.

As part of the envisioning stage, you'll need to determine the goals, objectives, and business requirements of the CMS deployment at this stage. And you'll need to communicate this to each interested party in your organization.

What you want your site to do and accomplish will directly impact the objectives and business requirements of your CMS deployment. Therefore, presenting the CMS engagement in terms of how it solves a current problem or set of problems is an excellent way to describe the engagement's objectives and business requirements.

Your project proposal will be a high-level document that indicates the goals and scope of the project. Sign-off on this document is usually required before you can move to the next phase.

You'll also need to design a proof-of-concept site whereby the Web team prototypes a CMS site with templates and content. Such content can often be reused in the pilot and deployment phases.

You should plan to scope the project in such a way that you define the current "pain points" and how a CMS implementation will solve those pain points. You'll want to describe your current system and workflows and then point out specific challenges with your current system. The need for a content management system should be a logical conclusion as you describe the ideal solutions that will solve your problem(s).

You'll also need to do some competitive analysis between various content management products and be able to articulate reasons for selecting CMS 2002 over other products.

If you are consulting, you'll need to spend time understanding your customer's current environment, their Web content, and their authoring/publishing requirements. If you don't have a good understanding of these three elements, chances are good that your CMS deployment at their site will encounter setbacks and misreads neither of which you or your customer will enjoy very much.

Hence, from an outline perspective, here are the opening points to discuss in your CMS project plan as you scope out the CMS deployment:[1]

[1] A sample document outline is included later in this chapter.

  1. The envisioning phase

    1. Understanding business pain points

      1. Company background

      2. Current system

      3. Challenges with current system

      4. Why the need for a content management system?

      5. Why the choice of Microsoft Content Management Server 2002?

After you have demonstrated a thorough understanding of your pain points or your customer's pain points, you can begin to investigate other areas of a CMS deployment. The first area to look at is the requirements of the project. Be sure to include documentation that demonstrates you understand the current environment, the content that will be placed on the CMS site, and the publishing requirements for the site. Detailing the publishing requirements such as who will be publishing, the type of content that will need to be published, and/or the place in the workflow models where publishing will occur will help flesh out this area.

Another area to look at in this phase is identifying which supporting products are currently installed in the environment. For instance, does the customer use Exchange 2003 Server or GroupWise or SendMail? Does the customer use Visual Studio .NET? What homegrown applications has the customer built that they want to interoperate with CMS 2002? How will the Web sites be presented to the Internet? What products will be involved in the passage of packets between the Internet and your CMS server?

Finally, detail the budget and cost of the required CMS servers. If you will have multiple servers, be sure to explain the purpose of each physical server and why it is necessary to install. Part of your planning process will be to estimate the number, size, and cost of each CMS server. Many environments will have only one server or a few servers. Other environments will have multiple servers. Not only should your plan include budget and cost information, but it should also estimate the amount of site traffic that each server will support. Issues like these, and others, can be covered in this portion of the outline:

  1. Gathering customer requirements

    1. Understand the current environment

    2. Analyze the customer's content

    3. Investigate your customer's authoring/publishing requirements

  2. Identifying supporting products for integration

    1. Applications built in-house

    2. Third-party applications

    3. Other Microsoft products and servers

  3. Determining the required number of CMS servers

    1. Budget and cost

    2. Site traffic

    3. Hardware

The environment into which CMS will be installed is crucial to the planning process. The staging environment, source control, testing processes, and deployment solutions should all be explained. Here is a sample outline to help stir your thinking in this area:

  1. Content Management Server 2002 environments

    1. Managing different environments

    2. Development environments

      1. managing team development efforts

      2. Source control

      3. Build servers and the build process

    3. Testing and staging environments

      1. Aims of testing and staging

      2. Setting up testing and staging environments

      3. Testing and staging processes for Content Management Server 2002 solutions

    4. Production environments

      1. Deploying solutions to the production environment

      2. Managing and maintaining the production environment

As you continue with your planning of the CMS deployment, it will behoove you to consider the skill set that each interested party will need to posses in order to get a high return on investment (ROI) of your CMS investment dollars. Don't be shy at this stage. Outline the ideal skill set for each party and then pursue doing a formal training program for them. Here is a possible outline for this portion of your planning document:

  1. Team model and resources

    1. Skill set for administrators

    2. Skill set for authors/editors/moderators

    3. Skill set for infrastructure and operations staff

    4. Skill set for developers

    5. CMS team skill set document

      1. Identify team members

      2. Evaluate skill set

      3. Assign CMS tasks to individuals

As part of your client planning, you should include security and authentication requirements for your CMS site:

  1. Identify security and authentication requirements

    1. Type of authentication

    2. Need for a single sign-on

    3. Need for private content

Be sure to include notes on the current network environment that details where the CMS database will reside, the location of domain controllers (or other authenticating servers), and where the CMS sites will ultimately live. Be sure to note any changes to your TCP filter that will need to be instituted as a result of your CMS deployment:

  1. Identify network topology designs

    1. Location of database

    2. Location of domain controller

    3. DMZ setup

    4. Firewall setup

Microsoft Content Management Server 2002. A Complete Guide
Microsoft Content Management Server 2002: A Complete Guide
ISBN: 0321194446
EAN: 2147483647
Year: 2003
Pages: 298

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