Embracing Content Control

Enterprise Web site content management strengthens the message and empowers the messenger.

Inspired by a desire to improve their organization’s Web sites, some state and local governments are taking a look at next-generation Web content management tools that enable more effective communication, both internally as well as with the public.

As a long-time user of Documentum’s suite of enterprise content management tools (now owned by EMC), San Diego County recently deployed the vendor’s Web Publisher component. “We’re using it as part of a massive architectural change to our Web site and the way we manage it,” says Kim Hatfield, group IT manager for the county’s community services group.

The county is currently using EMC Documentum Web Publisher to establish a framework for centralized Web site content management and control, reining in disparate solutions previously used at the departmental level, where users built pages using HTML code. The result, according to Hatfield, will be standardization, a consistent look and feel across departments and improved functionality.

The county expects to wrap up the first phase of its Web site project, which is focused on content, by April and then begin the second phase, which will focus on honing the look and feel of the site.

“The new content management tool allows us to take the departments out of the technology role and put them into the content management role,” Hatfield says. Thirty-eight departments in San Diego County are in the process of adopting the new Web content management software, which allows them to easily post content to pre-defined templates without having to build HTML pages. EMC Documentum Web Content Management software also provides users with easy check in/check out, configurable security and version control for a timely and reliable work-flow process.

Hatfield says the Web content management tool is generating new ideas for the county Web site, such as providing public online search capability to public record data. “We’re exploring the idea of letting the public get public record data when they want it without having to write a letter to the county for the information,” she says.

According to market research from Gartner Inc. of Stamford, Conn., traditional Web content management tools that offer the ability to create, manage, store and deploy content on the Web have been enhanced with the ability to catalog or index content and deliver content to specific visitors in a personalized way. Web content is also expanding into business processes to make it a social and commercial enabler.

The National Association of Counties (NACO), a Washington, D.C.–based organization that represents county governments across the United States to ensure that the nation’s 3,066 counties have a strong voice in the nation’s capital, has turned to Microsoft’s Office SharePoint Server 2007 to improve content sharing and collaboration for its intranet and, soon, for its external Web site.

Used for both enterprise content management and Web site content management, the hardware and software solution costs approximately $10,000.

Focusing first on its intranet project, currently underway, Bert Jarreau, CIO at NACO, says the organization’s goal is to knock down chimneys within the organization and enable more collaboration and sharing of information. NACO has 90 employees who until recently needed to know HTML to post information to the intranet.

Using Microsoft’s Office SharePoint Server 2007, the NACO’s employees will easily be able to create, publish, manage and control content. “They’ll also have access to pages based on templates for consistency,” says Jarreau. About 18 employees representing various departments are piloting the organization’s intranet.

NACO is also using Windows SharePoint Services 3.0 for blogs and wiki support.

As the organization moves ahead with its next-generation web sites, one welcome change is its plan to post and share audio, video and Microsoft PowerPoint content that the organization’s lobbyists gather at conferences.

“Right now, collaboration with our members is one-way,” says Jarreau. NACO expects to finish the revamped public Web site project this year.

With the availability of easy-to-use and sophisticated Web content management tools, both San Diego County and NACO are able to centralize Web site creation, publishing and management while adding new features that result in a more enriching experience for content publishers and site visitors.

Feb 26 2008