So you want to take a look at a real Web Content Management (WCM)
product. How do you go about evaluating all the different products
and vendors? What should you be looking for in a WCM package? Is
it better to build your own, buy or use Open Source?
The best way to answer this question is to compare the products
on an apples to apples basis. You can do this objectively by building
a product evaluation matrix based upon your specific needs. The
first column can list out the functionality categories (e.g. Security).
The second column can be the specific needs (e.g. integrates with
Active Directory for roles and authorization) under each of the
categories. The next columns would be your products, one per column
for each product you want to consider. For each product then you
would give a rating (1 to 10 scale) on each specific need.
You can then add a column for weighting each specific need, or
do this at the topic level. For example, flexible workflow may be
much more important to you than your ability to customize the presentation.
You can then add some more columns to calculate the weighting against
the rating to arrive at a realistic assessment number for each product
on each of your organization's specific needs. Sum these all up
per product to arrive at a total product assessment score.
Of course, you can't forget to check customer references, or if
it's an open source product, go dig around some sites which are
using the tool already.
Below is a list of some topics/specific needs which may apply for
you. At a minimum, these should provoke some thought on your part
as far as what you are looking for in a WCM product and give you
a good start on your product evaluation matrix.
- Support for multiple workflow models?
- Complex workflows (parallel and serial)?
- Role/Group integration with flows?
- Ability to create workflow templates for re-use with different
- Will the product integrate with your security architecture?
- Do you require security for content submission?
- Do you require security for content consumption?
- Is there support for roles and groups? How is this implemented
and managed in the product?
- What are the creation/submission vehicles e.g., via an Office
application, HTML/File upload, WYSIWYG, etc.
- Are there templates to force content managers to adhere to a
common content structure (e.g. all posts must have a title, sub-title,
body, and who to contact fields)
- Extensive presentation customization capabilities?
- Extensive support for CSS integration?
- Ability to create presentation templates which can then be re-used
for different content types?
- End-user creation of presentation templates or does it require
Integration with search
- Does the product provide its own search engine?
- Or, will it effectively integrate with your current (or planned
- Security integration with search (i.e. a user can only see search
results for what he/she has access to view)
Common document management functionality
- Collaborative authoring
- Content history tracking
- If your organization uses Web Services or has an established
Service Oriented Architecture, you may demand the product can
expose content through Web Services so other applications can
- Portal integration (e.g., JSR168 support, WSRP support, etc.)
- Open and documented API available?
- Technical staffing to support (check with customer references)
- Robust yet easy to use?
- Complete control of all content in the lifecycle?
- Role/group management
About the author
Bryan Mjaanes is the creator/editor of Intranet101.com a community-based forum for
Intranet Portal professionals.