We’ve kept a close eye on two Techwr-l email discussion list threads in particular over the last week or so: DaLy’s “CMS solution needed – Feedback wanted,” and Steve Janoff’s “Managing a Collection of Documents.” Now these were threads we could sink our teeth into, having looked for a publishing alternative after taking over TechWhirl in 2011, and having tons of consulting and wage slave experience with numerous kludged together “solutions” for managing content in various forms. With a number of informative, and several enthusiastic (or opinionated) responses, we had the makings of a good technical communication poll question–finding out about must-have CMS features.
There are a LOT of systems out there vying for the technical communication team’s attention and budget—an alphabet soup that includes CMS (content management system), CCMS (component content management system), DMS (document management system), DAMS (digital asset management system), ECMS (enterprise content management system), WCMS (web content management system) to name a few. The feature sets that seemed to appear most frequently tended to fall into the CMS arena, but in fact if you take a broad definition of content, other system types could work just as well for some technical communication teams.
As much as technical communication teams dream of having the latest and greatest content creation and management tools at their disposal, reality often sings a completely different tune. But even if your budget won’t allow for a new system until sometime in the next decade, it’s still a good idea to understand your requirements for managing content including documents, images, web parts and reusable, component content. It’s an exercise that can uncover possible improvements in your current processes, that can at least lessen the pain if not prevent the headaches you deal with now.
As you look at the list of content management features and start to think about what would make your current environment totally perfect, you might want to jump over to our content management systems portal, where we have a number of articles that can help you look at your needs and determine what kind of solution you should be thinking about. And when you vote on your top features, take a minute to post a comment about why you picked the features you did. We’d love to be able to add some additional helpful content to our CMS portal, and we’re betting a few vendors and consultants will be paying attention as well.