By Suzanne Mescan, Vasont Systems

Are you looking to buy a single-source content management system and want to take it for a test drive? Great idea! Choose your favorite system and do a proof-of-concept. Here are ten tips to prepare for a proof-of-concept and ensure its success.

  1. Build and share your requirements. Document your requirements and expectations for a content management system and share these with the vendor before starting the proof-of-concept. The vendor can use this list to configure the system to meet your needs.
  2. Dedicate a team of key people. Make sure the team you choose to run your proof-of-concept includes key representatives from all areas (management, IT, writing department, etc.) to address needs from a broader perspective. These people should understand the concepts of content management and should have been involved in the demos and tool selection process. Dedicate their time to the proof-of-concept for its duration.
  3. Investigate options. Options may include use of a hosted system versus an in-house installation, or using the vendor’s demo content versus your own content. Weigh the options and choose the one that best fits your schedule, resources, and budget.
  4. Prepare complementary tools. Consider the tools you will need for authoring and editing, output, and translation. Make sure they are installed and integrated for the proof-of-concept if you plan to test these as part of the process.
  5. Prepare your content. If you are using your own content for the proof-of-concept, make sure you have a representative sample of content that is well-structured according to your DTD.
  6. Document new processes. When you implement a content management system, your processes will change. Plan how these new processes will flow and document them for the users to ensure consistency.
  7. Plan real-life scenarios for testing. List the key tasks that you want to test in the content management system during the proof-of-concept. Make sure they represent your day-to-day situations. Develop an evaluation sheet to log your results for each scenario.
  8. Determine a timeframe. A proof-of-concept should be just enough time to test your scenarios without consuming your resources for a long period of time. Usually 2-3 weeks is optimal.
  9. Train the team. Line up training with the vendor at the start of the proof-of-concept so the team understands how the content management system works. Don’t waste time fumbling through the system trying to learn it on your own; you may run out of time to test your scenarios.
  10. Follow up. Hold weekly meetings with the team and the vendor to review your progress and discuss any issues that may arise. Frequent communication with the vendor will provide support and resolve issues.

The bottom line: Prepare, organize, and communicate!

About the author

Suzanne Mescan, Vice President of Marketing for Vasont Systems, is responsible for the Company’s overall marketing and public relations efforts. She has more than 20 years of experience in the information management and publishing industry. Suzanne authored numerous articles about content management and delivered presentations at the Content Management Strategies conference, Vasont Users’ Group Meetings, and in numerous industry webinars.