CMS or no CMS … Is that even the right question?

As businesses rapidly evolve to meet customer demands and the changing (and challenging) business environment, Content Management Systems are increasingly relied upon to help organize and streamline the organization’s online presence. So what exactly is a CMS?

In general terms, a Content Management System (CMS) is a set of procedures used to organize and manage various types of information. In specific terms, relating to a Web site, a CMS is a tool that aids in the management of HTML, text, images and other types of digital information.

Crystal clear? Probably not.

So, let’s try looking at defining a Content Management System from an executive’s point of view. From that perspective, a CMS is simply a tool that will allow your team to update the content on a Web site.

If you think about that basic definition, organizations are already utilizing a CMS in some fashion. In the simplest form, someone is opening an HTML document and making the necessary changes. In a more sophisticated form, a piece of software eliminates the need to directly deal with HTML and adds more procedures and control to the process of updating content.

I challenge clients to move beyond asking if they should be using a CMS, and instead focus on what they are trying to accomplish and what resources they have available for those tasks. The answers will help determine the best solution.

One of our current clients owns a small, but growing manufacturing company. He recognizes the value of keeping the content of his Web site fresh and up-to-date, because it’s a great means of educating his customers. The problem is that no one on his team is technical and they have no time to accomplish the goal of consistently updating Web site content. In this case a CMS provides little value. While a CMS would minimize the amount of technical knowledge his team needs and definitely reduce the amount of time updates take, it cannot create more time in the day. What good is a tool if no one has the time to use it properly?

Solution? Push the burden of updating the Web site to an outside firm and let them worry about the most efficient means of managing content.

Now you may be thinking, “-¦but I have internal resources and I want to have total control over my Web site.” Understood. In that case, take a look at the resources you have and clarify what your goals are.

If you already have a great Web site and simply want to regularly update content, find a CMS that aligns with the current technology you have in place and get your team the proper training. But understand: if you are looking to redesign your Web site or want a tool that helps with search engine optimization, a CMS won’t eliminate the need to draw upon experts in design and Web best practices.

At the end of the day, don’t get hung up on putting a Content Management System in place just because “everyone else is” and “that’s what my tech guy says I need.”

Explore outsourcing strategies, look at your organization’s capabilities and capacity, and leverage industry experts. Understanding what you want to accomplish, exploring available options, and choosing tools that align with your company can help you operate more efficiently and gain an edge over your competition.

Michael Williams is the founder and CEO of Springthrough Technologies, a company formed a decade ago with the mission of redelivering and supporting practical, cost-effective IT services and solutions that would allow businesses to focus on their core objectives.

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Richard Blanchard
Rick is the Managing Editor of Corp! magazine. He has worked in reporting and editing roles at the Port Huron Times Herald, Lansing State Journal and The Detroit News, where he was most recently assistant business editor. A native of Michigan, Richard also worked in Washington state as a reporter, photographer and editor at the Anacortes American. He received a bachelor of arts from the University of Michigan and a master’s in accountancy from the University of Phoenix.