Content Management Systems

Content management systems are very relevant to knowledge management (KM) since they are responsible for the creation, management, and distribution of content on the intranet, extranet, or a website. Content management is a discipline in itself, so this section will be relatively brief, only outlining the basic considerations.

A content management system may have the following functions:

  • Provide templates for publishing: Making publishing easier and more consistent with existing structure/design.
  • Tag content with metadata: I.e. Allowing the input of data that classifies content (e.g. keywords) so that it can be searched for and retrieved.
  • Make it easy to edit content
  • Version control: Tracking changes to pages and, if necessary, allowing previous versions to be accessed
  • Allow for collaborative work on content
  • Integrated document management systems
  • Workflow management: Allowing for parallel content development
  • Provide extensions and plug-ins for increased functionality
  • Etc.

Content management systems come in different forms (and prices), and an organization must carefully evaluate what it needs. Tanya Sahu (2007) presents six general factors for consideration:

  • Technology: Including dynamic vs static publishing, high load performance, security issues, and search engine ranking factors (static pages rank better).
  • Ease of use: Most users are non-technical. Therefore, it is important to assess the ease of use of the end user content editing interface, the template-building interface, and the content approval system.
  • Total cost of ownership: I.e. the costs in the long run, including maintenance and applications.
  • Cross Platform Support and Scalability: Can it handle multiple operating systems? Can it integrate with other server side technologies?
  • Web Presence Management: The system should allow for the management of different websites separately and securely so as to manage multiple web presences (e.g. site on the intranet vs site on the extranet).
  • Solution deployment: How long will it take to move content onto the content management system and how hard will the process be?

James Robertson (2003) stresses that the processes that surround the content management system are of most value to the management of knowledge. Apart from what has been already discussed, he emphasizes processes such as the restructuring and rewriting of content carried out by professional writers supported by experts. This not only improves the accessibility and presentation, but also points to content gaps.

As one can see, selection and implementation of a content management system is something that requires careful consideration. As with all KM related IT systems, the functionality must be weighed against organizational needs and processes as well as expected costs. If properly implemented, the content management system can be very beneficial to KM, by improving the quality of explicit knowledge, and providing limited support to tacit knowledge transfer by identifying content authors (i.e. experts) and supporting collaborative projects.


Alan Frost M.Sc., 2010

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Download "A Synthesis of Knowledge Management Failure Factors" by Alan Frost. Free paper released Jan. 2014.

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