Outsourcing Takes the Mystery Out of Web Content Management | Article

internet contentDaily management of Internet presences remains a mystery to most businesses. The need for these tasks is obvious. But the investment required to internally fulfill these objectives can often be prohibitive — “as high as hundreds of thousands of dollars” according to Tony Byrne, an Internet content management consultant and President of Silver Spring, Maryland-based CMSWorks, Inc.

The Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) based in New York City serves as a perfect example of the niche that content management outsourcing firms fulfill. LISC provides grants, loans and equity investments to Community Development Corporations for neighborhood redevelopment. Over the past several years the not-for-profit organization has funneled about $5 billion into the development of inner city and rural communities.

Because the benefit LISC provides is executed at the local level through its 40 program offices, it maintains a community-based, highly distributed Web site and internal intranet. Both presences require massive updates, often several times a day, including time sensitive information that might remain online for only a few hours.

Additionally, LISC needed to be able to rapidly create mini-sites for each of its 40 program offices around the country that would allow each office to have its own identity.

“Internal management was never an option,” says Anna Wong, information knowledge coordinator for LISC. “We have an IT administrative department of six that serves 500 employees. We needed an outsourcing partner. Just using content management software alone was not going to solve our problem. We had to dig deeper.”

This led LISC to Los Angeles, California’s Crown Peak Technology, providers of ASP-based content management systems (CMS) for Internet presences and support services through an offering known as “Advantage CMSTM“. With Advantage CMS, LISC does not have to create new HTML every time employees add a new section or link to the site.

In addition to content management, Advantage CMS also features ongoing client employee instruction in site content development, management and support. “We needed the sort of assistance that was easy on our employees, since they would be the ones generating the information,” explains Wong.

“Internet content management is a process, not just a product,” says Crown Peak’s Vice President of Sales and Marketing Rob Rose. “Software solutions don’t typically come with ongoing customer services. We position ourselves as ongoing content management outsourcing partners. The relationship doesn’t stop when the initial work is done and our clients value that,” he adds.

Revamping LISC’s Internet Presence-In Weeks

LISC’s needs were systemic. They had to manage the content on their public site (including a sizeable research library), provide relevant, easily accessible content to their internal employees over their intranet, and be able to rapidly create mini-sites for each of their 40 program offices around the country that would allow each its own identity.

Since much of this information was time sensitive, it was apparent before outsourcing that content management was a major bottleneck. “Before we refined our Web content commitment, it was generally accepted that no information would be posted unless it had a life of six months, which certainly doesn’t lend to timely communication,” says LISC’s Wong.

Thus began a multi-phase implementation plan, each one completed in about two weeks. First, the service provider focused on LISC’s resource library, the CMS area of LISC’s public site that needed immediate help. The service provider developed multiple content types in a single repository that streamlined content creation. They established a formula for creating multi-tiered indexes of content that they systematically merged into the site’s navigation.

In the second phase, Crown Peak’s role was extended to manage LISC’s entire intranet, modifying the site for easier use and navigation. CrownPeak created sites for LISC’s 40 individual program area.

In two months, LISC’s Web content sharing became easily manageable by LISC employees and associates as well as its site managers. Any LISC employee can now drag and drop content from Word or other common editing tools to update most portions of the Web site, or create content for any new or existing program in a matter of minutes.

Byrne says companies decide to outsource instead of purchase software because “outsourcers offer faster turnarounds and savings that can run well into six figures over a two-to-three year period, depending on the size of the job.”

“The real sweet spot for an ASP-based CMS is in the mid-markets,” he adds. “Large firms usually have the internal resources to manage content on their own and smaller companies often don’t have the volume to justify anything more than a software solution or securing a small vendor because their needs aren’t that great. It’s the mid-sized firms that are the greatest areas of opportunity.”

Significant Savings and ROI for LISC

LISC’s overall cost was significantly less than implementing separate systems, custom developing a system, or modifying a package to cover three separate functions, notes Wong. And though she is not certain of the actual savings to her organization, she does say it’s “significant.”

Additionally, CrownPeak is able to monitor who is doing what regarding content updates. “If it appears someone is in need of additional instruction or support, we’re able to reach out on our own to help them,” Rose says.

“This solution is also encouraging our local offices to become more involved in our information sharing. And that’s a profound benefit to us, in addition to the cost savings” says LISC’s Wong.

Lessons from the Outsourcing Journal:

  • The overall cost of ASP-based content management outsourcing is significantly less than implementing separate systems, custom developing a system, or modifying a package to cover multiple functions.
  • Rapid time to implementation saves countless hours and even more time afterward through standard content management practices.
  • The greatest opportunity to realize content management savings is for the mid-sized firms that place emphasis on dispatching information quickly.

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