Busting the Myths of Component Content Management Systems

As we meet people who are just getting familiar with component content management systems (CCMS) and the concepts surrounding them, we find there are a number of common misconceptions floating around. Here are some of the myths we hear most frequently:

Myth #1: A CCMS will automatically structure my content.

Content must be prepared for a CCMS prior to loading it. If you have unstructured content, you need to convert it to a structured format, such as XML, and then load it into the CCMS. Once structured content is loaded, many CCMSs have tools built into the system that can help you clean up your content; for example, identifying and normalizing similar content to maximize reuse. While some of the more advanced CCMSs allow you to load unstructured content, it is a manual process to convert it to a structured format; there is no automated conversion that will magically do the work for you.

Myth #2: A CCMS will solve all my process problems.

CCMSs usually have a built-in or integrated workflow feature that can manage your content processes. However, the workflow is only as good as the definition you put into it. If you develop a complicated process and define it in the CCMS’s workflow, you will get a complicated process in return. It’s only as good as what you put into it, so it’s up to you to plan a good process.

Myth #3: A CCMS will work perfectly out of the box for me.

Because of the power a CCMS can provide through its configurability, it is rare for any two CCMS installations to look identical. Even organizations that use the DITA standard tend to make tweaks to their CCMS setup to accommodate their needs. Every organization works differently; the beauty of a CCMS is that it is adaptable to fit any circumstance.

Myth #4: A multilingual CCMS translates content.

To be clear, a multilingual CCMS manages translated content. Translators translate content. CCMSs can integrate with translation tools to help expedite and simplify the translation process. Once content is translated, it can be stored in a CCMS with the base language content where it can be reused, saving an organization a lot of money in future translation costs.

Myth #5: Formatting and structure are the same thing.

Actually, they are two very distinct parts. In structured authoring, the design (format) and the content hierarchy (structure) are broken apart, allowing the writers and subject matter experts to focus exclusively on the quality and accuracy of their content without getting caught up in the minutia of the presentation. Formatting is generally handled by a separate department devoted to creating and maintaining stylesheets which, when applied to the content during the publishing cycle, produce the desired “look and feel.” For more information on this topic, see our Crash Course for Content Management.

Call us at 717-764-9720 or visit our website for help in getting started with your content management strategy.