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Why Content Management is a Smart Investment

Top Web Challenge Today: Efficient Content Maintenance

The number one problem with Web sites today is not a lack of information. Sure, there may be a few holes in the Net, but most of the key information about your organization is somewhere on your site, just hoping to be found. Can it be found? If found, is it current? If current, is it efficiently maintained?

Most organizations understand that it's important to have current, accurate, and attractive information available for users of their Web sites. They understand that all audiences use the Web as the first-choice information resource.

The biggest problem right now is how to maintain (keep current) all the information that has already been posted while continuously rising to the challenges of current user expectations.

Top Two Problems of Web Content Maintenance

#1: Enabling the People Who Generate the Information or Clerical Staff to Make Updates
The top Web content maintenance problem arises from improper management of the information maintenance tasks. Information maintenance consists of keeping online information assets current. In the offline world these tasks are performed at the clerical level or the person closest to the topic. However, many of these people do not have the skills to perform these relatively simple tasks online. Instead, requests to update a page must languish in the inbox of someone with the technical skills to perform the task.

Traditionally, the people with the skills to update the pages have been programmers or designers. These programmers and designers HATE updating content on pages they've already completed. They would rather be programming the next database-driven feature of the site or designing a beautiful set of pages for the capital campaign.

#2: Skilled Staff Performing Basic Tasks Instead of Pushing Your Web Site Forward
Having your Web technologists perform basic content updates leads to part two of the problem: skilled staff working below their capacity to push the site forward. If an institution's programmers and designers are spending their time (in theory, time more valuable than that of the clerical staff) updating content, then other important projects can't receive the attention they deserve, and the institutional Web site stagnates.

The Solution: Web Content Management System

The solution to both parts of the problem is a content management system (CMS) that efficiently distributes content management to the most cost-effective levels of the organization while maintaining centralized brand control. These competing goals are reconciled by using templates and specific user permissions for the tasks that any individual may perform. Yes, these systems are on the market. And yes, they cost money.

The High Costs of NOT Having Content Management

But let's look at the cost of NOT having such a system. In most cases the cost of inefficiency is exponentially higher than the investment needed to create efficiency. Here's a hypothetical example to illustrate the situation that we describe:

A work-study student at a clerical position making $10 per hour might need an hour to complete a scheduled update to a Web page with the proper tools and training. A skilled person making $20 should be able to complete the task in half the time for the same $10, but don't forget that the skilled person has to receive instructions and receive the actual content (which the clerical person would probably still spend a half hour typing . . . ). So, the cost has already risen to more than double the cost of the clerically-maintained page.

Yet, we can't assume the page is correct the first time around, which means it must be proofread and probably corrected. Throw in a little extra money to account for the opportunity costs of having the $20/hour person working on a project for which she is overqualified and, as a conservative estimate, we are wasting an average $20 for each hour of work that is not done at the lowest-pay level. Now for some simple math:

$20 wasted for each hour of tasks not completed by the lower-paid personnel

2 hours of Web management work per day at minimum for most organizations (That's only 2 hours per day of clerical time keeping only the most important information resources current.)

5 days per week

So far, we are at $200 per week for one person in one department. Let's take it a bit further:

Assume there are 25 departments in your organization, each having only one person managing content. (I'm just keeping the math simple. Insert your organization's number of departments for a more accurate estimate. Double that for heavy information-generating departments such as Communications and Marketing.)

50 weeks per year, again to keep the math simple

That adds up to a whopping $250,000 per year being wasted by inefficient content management, and that number will increase exponentially every year the issue is not addressed.

The Right Content Management System: Imagine the Possibilities

A content management system is more than hardware and software; it also includes people and training. For an average price of under $40,000, your organization can purchase a 25-seat license, software, training, information architecture design, and support for Estrada, a distributed Web content management system and development platform. Your first-year budget should probably include updating the information architecture and graphic design of your site. However, after the first year, you’ll probably also want to add a full-time employee to manage the whole process. Nonetheless, what you save through the efficiency of having a content management system will easily cover these expenses—and then some.

Your numbers may not match this example exactly, but if you have at least 25 people who should be maintaining their own information right now, the math is easy. If you can't think of 25 people right now, how long would it take to hit that number?

If you implemented an effective content management software and trained people how to use it, would more of your departments jump on board? What if your Human Resources could/would use the system to more efficiently recruit and retain employees? What if your Customer Service could/would use the system so that customers could get the same up-to-date information online instead of telephoning your call center? What if your remote office locations and/or telecommuters could/would use the system? If all these people start maximizing your organization’s Web site you will be well on your way to better recruitment, brand management, marketing and customer service—saving money at the same time.

Of course, every institution is unique, and nobody but you can accurately assess your situation. So, do your own estimate using the formula above with your organization’s budget figures. We'll bet that you will discover that an efficient content management system will pay for itself.

This article is a revision of one published in Impact, Stamats Interactive Marketing Newsletter Volume 1, Issue 4, August 2001. Used with permission from Estrada Business Partner Stamats Communications, Inc.


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