There is a pattern in how many small to mid-sized enterprises go about researching technology applications, one that does not serve them well. As I interact with colleagues, business affiliates and professional peers, I play into this behavior unwittingly. For example, how many times have you been on the asking or answering side of this question: “My organization is planning to procure a search system this year, what systems should we be looking at?” Too often, I make a quick judgment based on what little I know about the asker and toss out a few potential candidate vendor names.
This scenario plays out frequently and now I am uncomfortable because, as a consultant and search analyst, I know that there is a lot more I need to know before offering off-handed advice to that question. Here are some ideas for questions that you should be asking first so that, when someone like me wants more context, you have ready answers.
Your first step is to survey your internal landscape and clearly document the following:
- What are the business outcomes you expect to derive from the search product, who will be using it, under what circumstances and for what purpose?
- What is the scope of the content that will be indexed for retrieval? Create a content map that explicitly illustrates: What, Where, Who, When. This means capturing what the content is in terms of document types and formats, numbers and size, and topic, and where it is being created, stored and managed. You need to know who created it, owns it, and will have access to it. Finally, it helps to document when it was created and information about retention.
- Who will be involved in product selection and evaluation, who needs to sign off at every stage of selection and procurement, who will be involved in installation and deployment, and who will maintain the system on an ongoing basis?
- What is your IT infrastructure and who controls it? If a schematic is not in place that depicts at least the portion of the computing infrastructure that will be integral to your search support, it is time to make sure one is prepared. You cannot make an informed decision about appropriate and workable search solutions without this information.
You will also be wasting the time of vendors when you seek product and licensing information if you do not have all of these issues sorted out. Much of the packaging of search products is dependent on numbers of documents or size of the corpus to be indexed, how the software will be installed, and who and how many will be accessing it. Pricing information will be vague until you have concrete content “demographics” to share with prospective vendors. You can’t even establish a budget without answering the questions above, and you need a ballpark budget figure to help narrow your choices.
So, I am resolving to be more thoughtful in my responses when queried by friends and colleagues. Before answering I will be asking you for some meaningful data in advance of reeling off a list of products. It is time for you to do some preliminary research in-house before establishing the lineup of suitors. More on the next steps, next time up.
Thank you for all of the emails and phone calls regarding Gilbane Boston 2008 which will take place December 2-4 at the Westin Copley. Our conference team is currently in the process of reviewing all speaker proposals and putting together the conference curriculum. If you have submitted a speaker proposal you will be receiving a notification from us soon, thank you all for your interest in our conference. If you have any further questions you can email us at email@example.com
Well, actually the report was published by the author, Seth Gottlieb, a few months ago, but it is now available at the Gilbane store. Seth has worked with open source content management systems for years and for this report personally installed all the products he evaluated. Seth has written a really excellent report that is a must-read for anyone considering investing in and open source web content management system, or for anyone inclined to dismiss them out of hand.
Open Source Web Content Management in Java provides an in depth analysis of seven of the leading open source Java web content management platforms. Written for technical decision makers, the report breaks down the open source marketplace and describes various categories of open source software and where they are most effectively used. The report also provides a framework for understanding the cost and risk implications of selecting an open source platform over commercial software.
Each 15+ page product evaluation explains the technical architecture and functional capabilities of the platform and provides insight into how the project is organized and the community behind it. There is enough technical detail to provide a foundation for ruling out incompatible technologies and prototyping the likely candidates. There is also useful information for content contributors and site managers to help them understand how the tool would support their responsibilities of today and their vision for tomorrow.
- Alfresco Enterprise
- Apache Lenya
- Daisy CMS
- Hippo CMS
- Jahia Enterprise
- Magnolia Enterprise
Buy Open Source Web Content Management in Java, by Seth Gottlieb.
NOTE: This is a downloadable PDF file. Acrobat version 6 or higher required.
Have you tried it yet? News here. My first search here. I guess there were technical difficulties yesterday.
Oh, it’s pronounced “cool,” but, old geezer that I am, I would have never guessed that on my own.
I am happy to announce that Fal Sarkar has joined us as a Contributing Analyst. Some of you may have met Fal when he was the Market Segment Manager for ECM at Sun as we did, or when he was at Xinet before that. Fal is currently based in India with his family where he has been involved in some very interesting work. See Fal’s post from yesterday, and his bio for more details. Fal will be writing and helping us with research on content management (both ECM & WCM) and social media, as well as what is happening in India.
Fal can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org, or at extension 219, which transparently rings through to Fal in Chennai, India or to his voicemail, but please remember the time difference.