Defining CMS Requirements

By | September 15, 2015

This topic came up in conversation recently, as a follow-up to my article on Content Management Systems in April, and I’d like to shed some more light on the process of gathering requirements from people included in the content production process, prioritizing those requirements and thus improving CMS capabilities in a phased and agile fashion.

During the development of a new CMS, or customisation of an existing system, the requirements gathering phase is critical.  I worked with CMS Producers to develop and implement a process for a couple of large organisations; the results were thought-provoking and informed the development of the CMS.  Interviews with stakeholders and authors/users were carried out in order to define requirements.

Stakeholders were, on the whole, unfamiliar with the detail of the organisations’ content processes but were able to outline, at a business level, their requirements.  As an example this might include being able to review the content (or translated content) in source or local language, rapid deployment of updated content to live site, ability to identify the content owner etc.  Authors had more exacting requirements including in-context editing, versioning, searchability, system training and support.

We ranked the requirements in order of importance and these were developed in phases.  During the development (or customisation) of the new CMS, developers worked with users to continually test, iterate and improve the tool.  Some very small updates made a significant difference to the author/user experience and contributed to improved productivity and to the speed of content deployment.

There can be a number impactful changes as a result of CMS improvements.  These might include, for example, enabling writers to enter the content directly into the CMS, rather than involving specialists and/or developers in the process, or reducing the complexity of the CMS interface, improving training time and facilitating easier content entry.