Evaluation criteria

Essential Features

  1. Flexibility: Should fit well and adapt to the existing workflow.
  2. Scalability: Can the system easily scale up to meet the organization’s needs.
  3. Priced to fit: Ensure that the initial costs and the long-term costs are priced to fit actual needs.
  4. Quick implementation: Each day you wait to implement costs you time and money.
  5. Browser-based: This reduces the need to install and maintain additional software on the client’s machines, allows changes anytime from anywhere, and enables content contributors the ability to browse directly to the Web page they wish to edit and update it in the context of the entire site.
  6. Multi-user functionality: It should be easy to implement and add new users, add users to groups, so the groups can be easily attached to editing rights on particular areas of the site.
  7. Easy-to-use: This might seem obvious, but each Web content management system is really very different.

Proof-of-Concept/Business Requirements

  1. How many assets really need to be updated and how often?
  2. How many asset creators need to use the system? Public relations, marketing, communications, and even human resources should be considered.
  3. Do these users need the ability to make updates anytime, from anywhere? If so, then a browser-based solution will be required.
  4. Will the content contributors’ changes require approval before posting to the site? Workflow with authorization is necessary when an organization deems that a reviewer or editor and possibly others must approve the work of a content contributor. In fact, a multiple-level authorization might be necessary to consider different types of approval: editorial, design, and administrative. The approval sequence should allow for intermediary work and revision on the part of those in five of the approval chain. Alternatively, the submitted page would be disapproved and returned to the originator or prior reviewer, with the process starting again in a recursive manner. Approval is often done on a staging server that hosts the entire Web site, including the newly updated page so that changes can be evaluated and approved in the site context. Upon final approval, the changes are typically published to a production server for public access on the World Wide Web.
  5. Is the solution just for a Web site, or Intranet, or both? And how important is scalability? If it’s for a Web site today, and an Intranet will be rolled out in six months, make sure that is considered as well.
  6. What is budgeted and how critical is the cost? What period of time is appropriate to realize the return on investment?

Site Requirements

  1. Does the solution need to be incorporated into a new site design?
  2. To what extent can the existing site be altered? Some solutions will require major modifications to existing site designs.
  3. For how many separate Web sites is the solution needed? This is important to determine the up-front costs associated with most Web content management systems.

Staffing Requirements

  1. Who are the content contributors responsible for the Web site content? It is likely these people will not have a high level of programming or HTML expertise. The system should work for the lowest level of technical knowledge.
  2. How much staff training time and expense can be afforded? The costs and time of training can be significant with a complex system. If people aren’t properly trained, the system will not be used and the system will fail.
  3. Does the existing staff have the expertise and time available to implement and maintain the solution? This is critical when evaluating a Web content management solution that is offered as a software solution deployed and maintained on the clients servers. These systems typically require a great deal of ongoing technical support from the purchasing organization.

Technical Requirements

  1. Does the solution need to be hosted on an internal server or could it be hosted on the vendor’s server? There are a variety of Web content management systems available that must be hosted on the client’s servers. Then there are some that can be procured as a service or hosted on the vendor’s servers. A few can be deployed either way.

    The next three questions are tied together.

  2. Will the solution service multiple locations and multiple servers?
  3. Does it need to be non-proprietary or platform independent?
  4. With which operating system servers and hosts does the solution need to work? These questions are very important when evaluating a content management system that is a software solution. A hosted application, or a hosted server solution, minimizes these technical requirements.

Implementation Requirements

  1. Is the solution needed for a departmental or enterprise level implementation? If departmental, then long term, does the solution need to migrate to the enterprise? If the organization is a multi-national corporation with offices located around the world with multiple Web strategies and multiple languages and is deploying this as a pilot program within one particular division, make sure it can be scaled and implemented further down the road.
  2. How quickly do you want it to be deployed? Some systems can be implemented in as little as a single day, where others take several months. The more changes required to your site and system, the longer the implementation. Also, the longer the training period, the longer it will take to be up and running.
  3. How long can you afford to have your site down for implementation?

12/5/01 (JC)

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