Technology before requirements

I have been presenting at several conferences in the past couple of weeks (10 sessions in two weeks) and I am still getting the same situation over and over again. I had an attendee in a workshop on a content management maturity model say: “I am not sure where to start. It feels like this is so overwhelming. Can’t we buy the tool first? That’s what my boss wants me to do.”

I can understand why this is a first reaction to the complexity of content management. There are so many issues and factors to consider. From business problems to content architecture, existing systems that require migration and integration, user needs and scenarios, meta-data standards, taxonomy development, work-flow processes, governance, change management and so on. The first time you are going through this, it is overwhelming.

But choosing a tool before understanding exactly what you need can create at least three major problems:

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“Just tell me the answer”: the challenge of stakeholder engagement

Recently, a client declined the opportunity to review some work we were doing. When we submitted the project, we did so with the caveat that the taxonomy needed to be validated and that we needed a half day from the subject matter experts.

The client said “no, we can’t do that – they don’t have the time”.

I explained that we had to make a number of assumptions about the taxonomy and how it would be integrated into content strategy. We needed to discuss these issues and talk about the choices that could be made and the alternatives available. This still met resistance. They said “you are the experts – just tell us how to do it. Rather than asking us, just tell us the answer.”

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Number 1 in Silver Mining Tools

I was looking over my keyword analysis on the web site and I came across a strange search string. We had several hits for “Silver mining tools”. I thought, how odd…

I entered the search in Google and there we were: Earley & Associates had the number 1 spot on Google for Silver Mining Tools. Right next to companies that provided equipment for miners along with paid ads for sites touting silver stocks.

I then noticed why Google thought this a good match. We have an article titled “Text Mining: Search’s Silver Lining”. Turns out we don’t show up under “Silver Mining Equipment”.

(Since I first noticed this, we have slipped to the number two position. Perhaps I can get some mining companies to trade links and get us back to the top.)