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Published on September 24th, 2006 | by Rahel Bailie

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Other types of content, other ways to manage them

When sorting through the various types of content management systems, an important consideration is to determine the business needs. Then, match the system to those needs; becoming familiar with the various types of CM can open up a world of possibilities. Some organizations use multiple content management systems, connecting the databases, in order to serve diverse business needs, while others go the ECM route to have a single system to fill the needs of multiple groups.

Document Management is a way of controlling native-format documents (such as Word or Excel files) through their creation, storage, retrieval, and versioning. A document management system does not support the re-use of content chunks within the documents. From a technical communication point-of-view, a writer manipulates content objects in an XSCM system and generates a document, which then gets managed through a document management system. Some XSCM systems include basic DM functions with their systems, but these are often not robust enough to meet the specialized needs of an organization.

Digital Asset Management is a system for handling rich media, which may include still graphics such as photos, video clips, sound files, and other types of multimedia. It is used by libraries, museums, and media outlets such as television stations to deliver content, and handles such challenges as categorizing hundreds of photos of painting called “Untitled 1” and encoding video with metadata.

Product Information Management, sometimes called Product Data Management, handles content for online catalogues and e-commerce systems. The content includes product names, images, and descriptions, part numbers, quantities and corresponding prices, and perhaps language variants. Some PIM applications are connected to “configurators” that calculate the various ways that a product can be sold. For example, a piece of equipment might come with attachment A in blue or red, or two of attachment B, one each of red and blue or both red or both blue, and a slightly different price depending on the options chosen.

Records Management handles data that becomes aggregated into a record and can be sorted in various ways. For example, all the information that makes up personnel records would be handled in a records management system. Controlling access to these records is handled by rights management.

Customer Relationship Management is a variant on records management, handling information about customers to help companies better understand customer needs. CRM resembles knowledge management in that it uses CM technology with a view to supporting certain business goals.

There is no perfect system – and no perfect project – so the more familiar you become with the alphabet soup, the more prepared you’ll be to converse using the CM vocabulary.


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About the Author

Rahel Anne Bailie is a synthesizer of content strategy, requirements analysis, information architecture, and content management to increase the ROI of content. She has consulted for clients in a range of industries, and on several continents, whose aim is to better leverage their content as business assets. Founder of Intentional Design, she is now the Chief Knowledge Officer of London-based Scroll. She is a Fellow of the Society for Technical Communication, she has worked in the content business for over two decades. She is co-author of Content Strategy: Connecting the dots between business, brand, and benefits, and co-editor of The Language of Content Strategy, and is working on her third content strategy book,



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