When WCM is no longer fun

This week, I spent a lot of time in various discussions on the negatives of Web content management systems (WCM). For all the excitement us CMS enthusiasts have for WCM, there is also associated frustration that threatens to dampen our spirit and kill the mission.

At my day job, we have a WCM that was developed internally and is starting to show its age. This week's conversations made apparent to me that we not only have technical issues with the WCM to resolve but also some significant organizational and leadership issues. Some of the folks involved with the project have started to hit a wall and there is conversation taking place that we should contract the work out. I think there is always benefit to having someone outside the organization looking at the problem with fresh eyes. I'm just not so sure such decisions to contract out the job should be born from frustration alone.

I also wonder what the contractor would think once they realize the expectation is not only for them to fix our WCM but also to fix various organizational issues as well. Most WCM analysts and implementers I talk to find it no fun to work with customers that not only want them to provide a product and content management solution but also to make business decisions the customers should be making for themselves. Let's also not forget that WCM vendors and implementers are just as frustrated that there are answers to questions that still allude them despite all their expertise and knowledge on the subject.

Knowing both customer and vendor perspectives well, I would find it laughable that each asks the other for answers that none have except for the fact that asking such questions is beneficial to the industry as a whole. I think having both customer and seller frustrated with the state of WCM shows just how young this particular information system really is. The automobile has had over 120 years to perfect their car, while the CMS folks have only really been working on the WCM for the last 15 years. That's not much time to perfect solutions and why analysts, vendors, implementers and customers are still hitting so many brick walls.

Yet, for all the problems we still have with content management and WCM the signs are very encouraging. Earlier this week, Jon Marks helped start the conversation on fixing WCM stemming from his expected participation in a J.Boye panel discussion on the state of the WCM industry. Some of that conversation also took place on Twitter via #fixwcm and, as a side note, once again makes apparent to me the value of tweeting for business purposes.

The best thing that happens when people identify the issues is that they also take part in helping to identify the solutions. Jon Marks has compiled a list of some of the people that have blogged about their thoughts on fixing WCM. I also came across James Hoskins blog with a customer viewpoint that I can relate to too. There are some great ideas being offered on these blogs, but I hope those visiting the blogs do not only consider the ideas but also move forward in implementing necessary changes.

I'm also encouraged at my own workplace that at least the conversation is taking place. It is IT's job to get the organization to seeing the fruits of what a good WCM can do for us instead of being buried under current frustrations. We have enough skilled IT professional folks in and outside of the project that we're bound to eventually see the organization through the WCM problems it is facing. Some battles may have been lost, but surely the war has not been lost. The first sign that we're winning the WCM war will come the day we can say WCM is fun once more. For all of us, may that day come soon.