In recent conversations with several of Gilbane’s Analyst On Demand and Technology Acquisition Advisory clients, I have observed two careless practices that have prevented enterprises from being able to assess both the feature-functionality of their existing WCM applications and their requirements for selecting solutions to replace those applications. Both relate to a lack of documentation.
In the first case, it’s the absence of a master list of the WCM-related applications that have been developed in-house over the years. One company has “about 50” such applications, and geographically-dispersed individuals throughout the enterprise can tell me what some of them are, but no one can refer me to anyone or any system that has the complete listing. Discrete ongoing development projects exist for many of these applications, a few of which live buried deep in departmental silos. Needless to say, the functionality of applications within these silos is known only to a few people, is never re-used in other initiatives, and in fact often gets duplicated by newer siloed projects.
The second shortcoming is the non-documentation of feature-functions within the applications themselves. Even when applications are well known throughout the organization, their complete functionality sets are known to no one. This results in duplicate development, redundant purchases, and negative ROI — although no one knows just how negative.
At a minimum, enterprises should maintain master lists of both their WCM-related applications and the functionality within each one. To make effective use of such documentation, companies should establish effective dissemination processes. Examples range from the inclusion of key individuals in change control board meetings (for companies with predictive-style development methods) to informal cross-functional communication, especially between disparate technology groups, but also between IT and the business units whose requirements drive application development.