Here at the CMS Myth we make a point to climb our soapbox and espouse a pragmatic approach to dealing with the content management issue (Here’s a quick hit: CMS is a software tool; content management is a discipline – recognize the difference!)
So it was refreshing at Web Content 2008 in Chicago this week to hear advice, cut from the same Myth cloth, provided in generous portions to the web, content, marketing and tech pros all trying to crack a similar nut.
Among the preachers: Jarrod Gingras, analyst at CMS Watch, whose comments on how to craft an RFP ring true. Among his points: De-prioritize the feature checkbox. Vendors typically provide “no real explanation in a checkbox about what went into meeting that requirement,” he says.
Instead of crafting an exhaustive checklist of features, write the story of how things run today with your website processes. Construct a complete and colorful narrative about who does what, when and how inside your organization to make stuff happen online, in all its ugly glory. What’s the current process to get information published? Who touches it along the way? Why do things get bogged down? Name names. Provide the painful details. Tell the story.
From that approach emerges the picture of what’s not working and what a CMS vendor needs to solve. Instead of a vendor firing a feature list back at you, demand vital details of how they would help you improve things, following along with your narrative.
Pragmatic advice is always good. To which we would add one more bit for any organization that gets its news, as it were, from the RFP document: Pick up the phone and have a clear conversation with a vendor or service provider about what you’re seeking. Thirty-minutes on the phone will do wonders to clear the fog from a 100 page RFP.