How To Prepare Your Team For A CMS Overhaul

Megan Godwin
Posted

As the saying goes, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” A lot of people live by this saying. In the world of IT, this doesn’t appear to be the case. With the ever-changing IT landscape; constant changes, updates, upgrades, and “bigger and better” widgets, it is crucial to update your digital presence and strategy for a successful web presence in the dynamic world of IT.

Businesses are looking for scalable solutions to adapt, remain flexible, and integrate across several applications in order to remain competitive. As part of these improvements, employees can become frustrated with learning something they are completely unfamiliar with. Upgrading end-user Content Management System (CMS) environments can often be a source of frustration for web content administrators. Suddenly, an existing website on a familiar platform becomes redesigned and built on a new CMS, causing frustration and panic. This leaves staff with a loss of ownership and an extremely high learning curve to master.

This scenario was something that I dealt with during the redesign and rebuild of our partner's web platform, Sciencenews.org and Society for Science and The Public (SSP), a non-profit organization dedicated to public engagement in scientific research and education.  Sciencenews.org and SocietyforScience.org are basic sites, with tons of informative and detailed content. SSP wanted a fresh new look and feel for its websites on a Drupal platform.  The Drupal platform allowed for additional functionality and complexity that was new to the entire content team. Learning Drupal seemed like an extremely tough challenge, but was something that we were prepared to work on together.

In the end, the website launch was very successful and the training process helped me hone my skills and best practices of how to prepare a content team for a massive CMS overhaul. Below, I have outlined the steps I developed from this project to successfully help teams prepare for a CMS adoption.

1). DO: Be Flexible

The client was very flexible with our schedules and worked with us closely before and during the implementation and launch process with regular meetings to keep the staff informed and involved in the launch and CMS developments. Communicating key dates to the client was a crucial success factor here.  It ensured everyone remained up to date and prepared for changes and added features and functionality.

2). DO: Be prepared to answer questions (with confidence)

The Science News team was very good at coming prepared to meetings with questions about the new CMS. They had some great fundamental questions such as, why the content management system was being implemented? And how such a tool could benefit the SSP team? It is important to work with the client initially to understand their goals and needs in order to explain the reason's for the CMS changes fully and clearly to the content administrator team. With questions like “how do I edit the homepage?” to “how can I update Ads across blog pages and sponsored content sections?” use these questions to demonstrate the benefits of the new system to the content team. Part of training is selling the new system to its new users!

3). DO: Make sure your team takes full advantage of CMS training

Our training sessions varied in detail from Science News to the Society News site. A lot of this had to do with the complexity of each site, but the SSP team was always prepared for onsite training. The teams were excited to learn the new system and everything it had to offer and were fully prepared for the challenge ahead.

4). DON’T PANIC

This is great advice for the trainer and the trainees! Employees like the status quo. New technology involves a learning curve that leaves a lot of people uncomfortable. As a trainer, do not panic. Instead, encourage staff to feel excited about the new technology and the opportunity to master it. With a system such as Drupal, changes can be handled and managed by the editorial staff, not developers, which means both teams are empowered to manage their digital presence at their convenience.

5). DO: Have Fun!

I know it can be really stressful, especially as lots of users are learning something completely knew, but it can be very helpful to think about a new CMS implementation as a fun and exciting opportunity! Understanding the ins and outs of the system and understanding how this can benefit the company in the end will really help the team in the long term.  Our only constant in this world is change, so let's enjoy it and grow!

Looking for more tips on launching your content management system and website?  Check out Kellye Roger's blog post: "Avoiding the Top 5 Mistakes Web Leaders Make With Their CMS Launch/Relaunch in Drupal CMS"

Megan Godwin