Thursday, June 28, 2012

Content Management Systems Reviews - FatWire

FatWire Software is web content and experience management software which powers web presence for organizations, allowing them to deliver relevant customer content, build community engagement and drive site stickiness and loyalty.

FatWire Software was a privately held company selling web content management system software. It was acquired by Oracle Corporation in 2011, and its products rolled up into Oracle's WebCenter product lines.

FatWire solutions are powered by content server, which combines complete business user control over the creation and presentation of content with a scalable architecture for dynamic content delivery and multi-site deployment.

FatWire Key Strengths

  • FatWire provides web content management (WCM) solutions that enable organizations to deliver a rich online experience to users and to simplify management of their web presence.
  • FatWire offers a comprehensive web experience management (WEM) portfolio including WCM and targeted marketing technologies, plus enterprise 2.0 collaboration and content integration capabilities.
  • Organizations can harness the power of FatWire solutions to rapidly and cost effectively deploy large numbers of web sites and deliver a compelling web experience to customers and partners.
  • With FatWire, customers can optimize the web experience while increasing customers loyalty and sales.
FatWire Technology

The product has a strong Java foundation and is J2EE-based, relying on servlet engine support from market leading J2EE application servers. FatWire Content Server supports management of both content and code, allowing organizations to not only manage and deploy content but also stage and deploy an entire Web site. The product provides comprehensive Web services API for the development of dynamic, personalized sites in JSP and ASP.NET.


FatWire includes the following products:
  • FatWire Content Server
  • FatWire TeamUp
  • FatWire Analytics
  • FatWire Engage
  • FatWire Community Server
  • FatWire Gadget Server
  • FatWire Mobility Server
  • FatWire Content Integration Platform
FatWire Content Server
  • Empowers business users to manage content with powerful, easy-to-use interfaces including in-context content editing, drag-and-drop page layout, time-based site management, and more.
  • Ensures consistency and accuracy with central management of multiple sites in multiple languages.
  • Delivers a personalized web experience for site visitors with high-speed dynamic delivery of targeted and multi-lingual content.
  • Organizes and manage large volumes of content including extensive product catalogs, with flexible tools for managing complex product taxonomies and hierarchies.
  • Supports high volume, enterprise-class deployments with a highly scalable infrastructure and robust enterprise security and access control.
  • Automates the entire process of managing web content, including authoring, site design, content publishing and deployment, content targeting, web content analytics, and user participation.
FatWire TeamUp
  • Facilitates both internal collaboration and external website communities.
  • Helps organizations to dramatically improve the productivity of internal creative teams, and to build and strengthen interactions with customers and other stakeholders.
  • Strikes the perfect balance between freeform collaboration and enterprise needs for scalability, security, and monitoring.
FatWire Analytics
  • Offers tracking and reporting on individual assets, promotions, and visitor segments.
  • Gives editors and marketers the ability to immediately determine whether a given piece of content is effective for a customer segment.
  • Works with FatWire Content Server and FatWire Engage to enable real-time tracking and optimization.
FatWire Engage
  • Empowers marketers to set up and manage targeted online campaigns.
  • Gives marketers easy-to-use interfaces for defining what content will be delivered to each customer segment online, and to tweak those recommendations as needed, based on the effectiveness of content.
FatWire Community Server

FatWire Community Server offers user generated content (UGC) features to create an engaging website experience. These capabilities integrated with the rest of the WEM suite, for robust manageability and scalability. With FatWire Community Server, organizations can:
  • easily implement social features such as comments, ratings, reviews and blogs on new or existing websites;
  • employ user generated ratings or reviews to influence and change the content of dynamic sites;
  • harness UGC for the benefit of the business by using and re-using UGC assets throughout the site to deliver value for site visitors;
  • easily moderate and manage UGC with flexible tools to meet enterprise standards.
FatWire Gadget Server

Web site visitors expect to receive information that is tailored to their needs and can change as their interests change. Gadgets are an important tool for delivering this. Gadgets are small applications that can be placed on web sites to provide a specific function or type of information, and can be personalized by site visitors. FatWire Gadget Server uses the power of gadgets to help organizations:
  • enable site visitors to quickly and easily create their own gadget dashboards by selecting the gadgets they would like to use from a list made available to them by the organization;
  • offer end user personalization of gadgets so site visitors can tailor gadget content to meet their specific needs;
  • enable business users to easily set up their own gadgets made of internal content, based on out-of-the-box gadgets provided with Gadget Server;
  • add their gadgets or third-party gadgets to any page of their web presence;
  • syndicate their gadgets to third-party sites for enterprise content syndication.
FatWire Gadget Server is built on the OpenSocial/Google Gadget standards so that any compliant third-party gadgets can be incorporated with FatWire gadgets on FatWire sites. And gadgets built with FatWire Gadget Server can be incorporated into any OpenSocial/Google Gadget standard compliant web page.

With Gadget Server organizations can offer site visitors the ability to personalize their own web experience, driving loyalty and repeat visits. Gadget Server also gives organizations the ability to extend their brand and business reach through syndicating out their content or functionality.

FatWire Mobility Server

Enables organizations to deploy their web content seamlessly on thousands of mobile devices. Whether traditional web content or community content, companies can enable their users to engage with their organization via the mobile channel.

FatWire Content Integration Platform

The FatWire Content Integration Platform lets organizations quickly access stored content across the enterprise, publishing it to their public web sites, intranets and extranets managed by FatWire Content Server. The solution employs strict enterprise standards for maintaining version control, access policies, and workflow applied to documents and content shared, and lets FatWire customers utilize Content Server interfaces to access content from throughout their various business silos for online use with minimal effort.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

What is Usability?

Usability is the ease of use of a system or a web site. It is a quality attribute that assesses how easy user interfaces are to use. If users either find a system difficult to use or find problems with it, then user adoption of this system is going to be extremely difficult.

Usability is a quality attribute that assesses how easy user interfaces are to use. The word "usability" also refers to methods for improving ease-of-use during the design process.

Usability is defined by 5 quality components:
  • Learnability: how easy is it for users to accomplish basic tasks the first time they encounter the design?
  • Efficiency: once users have learned the design, how quickly can they perform tasks?
  • Memorability: when users return to the design after a period of not using it, how easily can they reestablish proficiency?
  • Errors: how many errors do users make, how severe are these errors, and how easily can they recover from the errors?
  • Satisfaction: how pleasant is it to use the design?
There are many other important quality attributes. A key one is utility, which refers to the design's functionality: does it do what users need?

Usability and utility are equally important and together determine whether something is useful: It matters little that something is easy if it is not what you want. It is also no good if the system can hypothetically do what you want, but you can't make it happen because the user interface is too difficult. To study a design's utility, you can use the same user research methods that improve usability.

Definition: Utility = whether it provides the features you need.
Definition: Usability = how easy and pleasant these features are to use.
Definition: Useful = usability + utility.

Why Usability is Important?

On the web, usability is a necessary condition for survival. If a website is difficult to use, people leave. If the home page fails to clearly state what a company offers and what users can do on the site, people leave. If users get lost on a web site, they leave. If a web site's information is hard to read or doesn't answer users' key questions, they leave. Did you note a pattern here? There is no such thing as a user reading a web site manual or otherwise spending much time trying to figure out an interface. There are plenty of other web sites available, leaving is the first line of defense when users encounter a difficulty.

The first law of e-commerce is that if users cannot find the product, they cannot buy it either.

For intranets, content management systems, web portals usability is a matter of employee efficiency and productivity. Time users waste being lost on your intranet or pondering difficult instructions is money you waste by paying them to be at work without getting work done.

Current best practices call for spending about 10% of a design project's budget on usability. For internal design projects, think of doubling usability as cutting training budgets in half and doubling the number of transactions employees perform per hour. For external designs, think of doubling sales, doubling the number of registered users or customer leads, or doubling whatever other desired goal motivated your design project.

How to Improve Usability

There are many methods for studying usability, but the most basic and useful method is user testing, which has 3 components:

1. Get hold of some representative users, such as customers for a web site or employees for an intranet (in the latter case, they should work outside your department).
2. Ask the users to perform representative tasks with the design.
3. Observe what the users do, where they succeed, and where they have difficulties with the user interface. Do not talk and let the users do the talking.

It is important to test users individually and let them solve any problems on their own. If you help them or direct their attention to any particular part of the screen, you have contaminated the test results.

To identify a design's most important usability problems, testing 5 users is typically enough. Rather than run a big, expensive study, it is a better use of resources to run many small tests and revise the design between each one so you can fix the usability flaws as you identify them. Iterative design is the best way to increase the quality of user experience. The more versions and interface ideas you test with users, the better.

User testing is different from focus groups, which are a poor way of evaluating design usability. Focus groups have a place in market research, but to evaluate interaction designs you must closely observe individual users as they perform tasks with the user interface. Listening to what people say is misleading: you have to watch what they actually do.

When to Work on Usability

Usability plays a role in each stage of the design process. Therefore there is a need
for multiple studies.

Follow these steps:

Before starting the new design, test the old design to identify the good parts that you should keep or emphasize, and the bad parts that give users trouble. Unless you are working on an intranet, test your competitors' designs to get data on a range of alternative interfaces that have similar features to your own.

Conduct a field study to see how users behave in their natural environment. Make paper prototypes of one or more new design ideas and test them. The less time you invest in these design ideas the better, because you will need to change them all based on the test results.

Refine the design ideas that test best through multiple iterations, gradually moving from low-fidelity prototyping to high-fidelity representations that run on the computer. Test each iteration.

Inspect the design relative to established usability guidelines, whether from your own earlier studies or published research.

Once you decide on and implement the final design, test it again. Subtle usability problems always creep in during implementation.

Don't defer user testing until you have a fully implemented design. If you do, it will be impossible to fix the vast majority of the critical usability problems that the test uncovers. Many of these problems are likely to be structural, and fixing them would require major re-architecting.

The only way to a high-quality user experience is to start user testing early in the design process and to keep testing every step of the way.

Where to Test

It is best to test users in their own work environment, i.e. at their office. This will make them more comfortable. Also, users are used to their own computers. Be present with them while they use the design and just observe and make notes.

Misconceptions About Usability

Misconceptions about usability's expense, the time it involves, and its creative impact prevent companies from getting crucial user data, as does the erroneous belief that existing customer-feedback methods are a valid driver for interface design. Most companies still don't employ systematic usability methods to drive their design. The resulting widespread ignorance about usability has given rise to several misconceptions.

Misconception - Usability Is Expensive

Usual usability projects are not expensive. You can run user tests in a spare conference room or better yet in participants' offices. The methods are flexible and scale up or down according to circumstances. On average, best practices call for spending 10% of a design budget on usability. That is an inexpensive way to ensure that you spend the remaining 90% correctly, rather than blow your budget on an unworkable design.

Misconception - Usability Engineering Will Delay My Launch Date

Usability need not be on the grand scale. The simplest user testing method would take around 3 days but even faster tests are possible.

One of the main benefits of letting user research drive design is that you don't have to spend time on features that users don't need. Early studies will show you where to focus your resources so that you can launch on time.

Finally, usability can save time by helping you quickly settle arguments in the development team. Most projects waste countless staff hours as highly paid people sit in meetings and argue over what users might want or what they might do under various circumstances. Instead of debating, find out. It is faster, particularly because running a study requires only one team member's time.

Misconception - Usability Kills Creativity

Design is problem solving under constraints: you must design a system that can actually be built within budget and that works in the real world. Usability adds one more constraint: the system must be relatively easy for people to use. This constraint exists whether or not you include formal usability methods in your design process.

Human short-term memory holds only so many chunks of information. If you require users to remember too much, the design will be error-prone and hard to use because people will forget things when you overload their memory.

Also, if you are designing a web site, it will be one of millions available to users and they'll grant you only so much of their attention before they move on.

These are facts of life. All usability does is to make them explicit so that you can account for them in your design. Usability guidelines tell you how people typically behave with similar designs. User testing tells you how people behave with your proposed design. You can pay attention to this data or ignore it; the real world remains the same regardless.

Knowing real-world facts increases creativity because it offers designers ideas about design improvement and inspires them to focus their energy on real problems.

Misconception - We Don't Need Usability, We Already Listened to Customer Feedback

Market research methods such as focus groups and customer satisfaction surveys are great at researching your positioning or which messages to choose for an advertising campaign. They are not good at deciding user interface questions, in fact, they are often misleading.

When a group of people is sitting around a comfortable table having snacks, they are easily wowed by demos of a web site's fancy features and multimedia design elements. Get those people to sit alone at a computer, and they are likely to leave the same web site in a short time.

Seeing something demo'd and actually having to use it are two very different things.Likewise, what customers say and what customers do rarely line up; listening to customers uses the wrong method to collect the wrong data.

Luckily, the correct usability methods are inexpensive, easy to implement, and will not delay your project. Instead, relying on wrong methods or not doing usability work is much more expensive.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Why Any CMS is Better Than Network Drives and Email Attachments?

This might be a trivial question, however, many organizations still use network drives for storing documents and their employees collaborate on these documents by sending them to each other as email attachments.

What is wrong with this picture?

The volume and variety of electronic information is exploding. Organizations are required to analyze new information faster and make timely decisions for achieving business goals within budget. They therefore are becoming increasingly dependent upon efficient access to information. In order to effectively use information, it must be readily available for analysis and synthesis with other information. The value of information depends on two things: finding it, and being able to use it.

Why can't this be done in network drives? Here are just few reasons:
  • documents in network drives cannot be searched;
  • there is no version control in network drives;
  • there is no trail who changed documents and what has been changed;
  • there are multiple versions of the same document;
  • there are no workflows and so there can be no automatic documents movement between participants;
  • few people could be editing the same document at the same time and so there is no control of made changes;
  • there is no possibility for the reuse of content;
  • permissions cannot be set up.
Further on, your organization would not meet regulatory and legal requirements if it stores its documents in network drives. If you are in a regulated environment, such as ISO 9001 or GxP/GMP, you must have a document control in place. Documents have to be accounted for, there can be no multiple versions of the same document in one place, there has to be a complete control on which documents are used, etc. This cannot be done in network drives. In addition, e-discovery is going to be very difficult and its cost very high.

Sending documents as email attachments is inefficient and time consuming. Sometimes it is even impossible, for example when these documents are too big for the email to handle. It is much easier to upload documents in a central location and for employees go there and update them as necessary. If it is a CMS, you can keep control on who changed what and when.

Content re-use is very difficult or even impossible, because every time a document needs to be changed, a user would have to change the entire document instead of just changing one paragraph and then being able to have the same content output as a brochure, marketing collateral, white paper, etc.

And if you need to translate documents in multiple languages, documents change is going to include tremendous cost because rather than translating just one paragraph that was changed, you would have to translate the entire document.

There are numerous advantages of having a content management system (CMS) in place. Here are just a few advantages. CMSs provide the facility to control how content is published, when it is published, and who publishes it. CMSs allow to set up workflow management thus allowing documents to automatically move between participants (reviewers, approvers, etc). There is version control, audit trail, collaboration features. You can set up appropriate permissions for your documents. Your documents would be searchable and readily accessible in one central location.

The best option is ECM suite. To be considered an ECM suite, the system has to include the following components:
  • document imaging – the ability to process and store high volume images of documents like insurance claims;
  • document management – the ability to provide library services and version control;
  • records management – the ability to declare and manage corporate records;
  • collaboration – the ability to share content with team members;
  • web content management – the ability to publish and update web sites;
  • digital asset management – the ability to manage digital assets like powerpoint slides and movies.
Some content management systems are free, such as Drupal, TYPO3, Joomla, and WordPress. Others may be affordable based on size subscriptions. Although subscriptions can be expensive, overall the cost of not having to hire full-time developers can lower the total costs. In addition, for many CMSs software can be bought based on need. In addition, many CMS can be deployed in a cloud thus further decreasing costs.

CMSs are designed with non-technical people in mind. Simplicity in design of the administrator UI allows content managers and other users to update content without much training in coding or technical aspects of system maintenance.

Many CMS tools use a drag and drop AJAX system for their design modes. It makes it easy for beginner users to create custom front-ends.

Once you have deployed a CMS, your employees are going to be more efficient and productive and you will save cost in the end.

How to choose a CMS? See my blog post on this subject.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

User Acceptance Testing

I have mentioned in my posts that if users either find a system difficult to use or find problems with it, then user adoption of this system is going to be extremely difficult. One of the ways to eliminate potential problems and provide user adoption is user acceptance testing.

User Acceptance Testing (UAT) is a process to obtain confirmation that a system meets mutually agreed upon requirements for the system. Major stakeholders, the project sponsor, and users across an organization provide such confirmation after testing the system. UAT is done using real world scenarios relevant to the users' tasks in the system.

Users of the system perform these tests, which you would derive from the user requirements documents. The UAT acts as a final verification of the required business functions and proper functioning of the system, emulating real-world usage conditions. UAT is one of the final stages of a content management project and often occurs before users accept the system. This type of testing gives users the confidence that the system being deployed for them meets their requirements. This testing also helps to find bugs related to usability of the system.


Before UAT is conducted the system needs to be fully developed. Various levels of QA testing should already be completed before UAT. Most of the technical bugs should have already been fixed before UAT.

What to Test?

To ensure an effective UAT test cases are created. These Test cases can be created using various use cases identified during the requirements definition stage. The Test cases ensure proper coverage of all the scenarios during testing.

During this type of testing the specific focus is the exact real world usage of the system. The testing is done in an environment that simulates the production environment. The test cases are written using real world scenarios for the system.

How to Test?

Focus is on the functionality and the usability of the system rather than the technical aspects. It is assumed that the system already has undergone QA testing.

UAT typically involves the following:
  • UAT planning;
  • designing UA test cases;
  • selecting a team that would execute the UAT test cases;
  • executing test cases;
  • documenting the defects found during UAT;
  • resolving the issues/bug fixing
  • sign Off.

UAT Planning

As always the planning process is the most important of all the steps. This affects the effectiveness of the testing Process. The planning process outlines the UAT Strategy. It also describes the key focus areas, entry and exit criteria.

Designing UAT Test Cases

UAT test cases help the test execution team to test the system. This also helps to ensure that the UAT provides sufficient coverage of all the scenarios. The Use Cases created during the requirements definition stage may be used as input for creating test cases. The input from users can also be used for creating test cases.

Each UAT test case describes in a simple language the precise steps to be taken to test something.

Selecting a Team That Would Execute the UAT Test Cases

The UAT Team is generally a good representation of users across the organization. Be sure to involve major stakeholders and sponsors.

Executing Test Cases

The testing team executes the test cases and may additionally perform random tests relevant to their tasks in the system. Lead the team by executing the test cases with them and guide users as necessary.

Documenting the Defects found During UAT

The team logs their comments and any defects or issues found during testing.

Resolving the Issues/Bug Fixing

Discuss the issues/defects found during testing with your project team and sponsors. The issues are resolved as per the mutual consensus and to the satisfaction of the users. Sometimes you may have to prioritize these issues/bugs. After these issues/bugs were either fixed, allow users to re-test the system. If you decided to prioritize and fix them later, inform your users about it with the estimated date of the fix.

Sign Off

Upon successful completion of the UAT and resolution of the issues the team generally indicates the acceptance of the system. Once users "Accept" the system, they indicate that the system meets their requirements.

Users now would feel confident that the system meets their needs and they feel "invested" in the system. There may also be legal or contractual requirements for acceptance of the system.

UAT Key Deliverables
  • the test plan - outlines the testing strategy;
  • test cases – help the team to effectively test the system;
  • the test log – a log of all the test cases executed and the actual results;
  • user sign off – this indicates that the users find the system is delivered to their satisfaction.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

SharePoint - Lists and Libraries Management

When a SharePoint list or library has a large number of items, you must carefully plan its organization, taking into account how users need to access documents or data. By planning and using a few key list and library features, you can ensure that users can find information without adversely affecting the performance of the rest of your site.

SharePoint contains a Document Center site template that you can use when you want to create a site that is optimized for creating, managing, and storing large numbers of documents.

Manage large numbers of documents using Document Center site

A Document Center is a specialized site designed to serve as a centralized repository for managing documents. You can use a Document Center site as an authoring environment or a content archive.

In an authoring environment, users actively check files in and out and create folder structures for those files. Versioning is enabled, and 10 or more earlier versions of each document can exist. Users check documents in and out frequently, and workflows can help automate actions on the documents.

In contrast, very little authoring occurs in a content archive. Users only view or upload documents. The Document Center site template supports creating knowledge base archives.

You can also create another type of large-scale archive by using the Records Center site template. The Records Center site template contains features for managing the retention and disposition of records.

Document Center Features

Tree View Navigation

The tree view should be a familiar navigation element for most Microsoft Windows users. A documents library can have folders so you can use the tree view to quickly browse to the document that you want. Be careful when you create folders. It is not advisable to create sub-folders, i.e. folders inside folders because users have to click many times to get to documents. If you need to separate documents inside the folder, perhaps it is the time to create a new library to create more space.

Major and Minor Document Versioning

You can turn on versioning for any document library. Versioning lets you track changes to documents, and it helps you manage content as you revise it. Versioning is especially helpful when several people work together on projects, or when information goes through several stages of development and review.

With versioning turned on, you can restore an earlier version as your current document, or view an earlier version without overwriting the current document.

Check-in and Check-out

The default settings in the Document Center require users to check out and check in files. Requiring check-out helps prevent conflicts and confusion over changes, because only one user can change a file at a time. When you require check-out, a file is checked out automatically when someone opens it for editing, unless another user already has it checked out.

While you have a file checked out, your changes are not visible to others until you check the file back in. This is true whether you are working on your hard disk or on the server. When you check in a file, you are prompted to enter comments about your changes, and the comments become part of the version history. And because the Documents library tracks major and minor versions of a file, you are prompted to choose which type of version you are checking in. Minor version is usually still a draft document, and a major version is a completed version of this document.

Content Types

A content type is a reusable group of settings for a category of content. You can use content types to manage the metadata, templates, and behaviors of items and documents consistently. See my post on SharePoint content types for more details on how to work with content types in SharePoint.

Create Specialized Views

You can create specialized views in libraries which will allow users to see only one set of items at a time. Views are based on metadata fields assigned to documents or data. When you create these views, choose only those metadata fields that you want to see in these views. You can also specify the order in which metadata will appear. You also will be able to filter these views to see only specific items.


You can create workflows to automate movement of documents. SharePoint has the following workflows: approval, review, collect signature. You can also set up a workflow to flag obsolete documents - it is called three-state workflow. You can create specialized workflows using SharePoint Designer. See my post on SharePoint workflows for more details on how to set up and manage workflows.

Content Approval

If you set up content approval, you can control the publication of new content. This will help to ensure that only completed documents are uploaded, that documents are uploaded into correct locations, and metadata is populated correctly.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Document Control Systems Reviews - Arena

There are few applications specifically designed for document control. Arena is one of them and it is the subject of my today's post.

Arena has the following modules:

  • item management;
  • Bill of Materials Management (BOM);
  • change management;
  • supplier collaboration;
  • compliance tracking;
  • project collaboration.

Item Management

Item management allows you to have part data, assemblies and documents including drawings and data sheets in one place. This is a centralized product record. You can give your team and designated suppliers controlled access to all the information they need to design and manufacture your product.

You can create a unique record for every part in your item master with customizable part numbering schemes and categories. Customizable categories can be used to determine the layout and sequence of fields in your part record.

You can see the entire revision history of an item in a single place to understand the decisions and changes that brought you to the current design. BOMControl Item Management allows you to toggle easily between the current working revision and any previous revision with one click.

Bill of Materials Management (BOM)

Your bill of materials (BOM) contains the parts and instructions that make your product. BOMControl keeps bill of material data centralized, controlled, and up-to-date.

You can quickly compare multiple BOMs to see what has changed, or what is different. You can optimize procurement and production with side-by-side bill of materials comparisons that reveal component needs across multiple product lines.

With BOM preview panels and where used panels accessible from each line in every BOM, you can move through your BOMs with ease. From top-level assembly to specific subassemblies and components, you can view specific item details, grab files and compliance information and review change order status at a glance—all without disrupting your flow.

You can specify acceptable part substitutions directly in the BOM. BOMControl allows you to designate alternate items and conditions where you might want to use them instead of the primary item designated in the BOM. You can provide alternatives for hard-to-source parts, or specify an earlier revision of an existing item as a substitute to utilize on-hand stock of a part that has been updated.

Change Management

There is a voting scheme that shows changes to one or many key stakeholders as you require their input. There is a notification system that reminds participants to vote when their input is needed. You can send virtual change packages to stakeholders and suppliers anywhere in the world, review and approve engineering change requests (ECR) and engineering change orders (ECO) from any location. With redlines and comment functionality, the BOMControl engineering change management process is controlled and transparent, so you can confidently include your supply chain in your innovation efforts.

You can capture deviations, and send them out for approval and release with a time-based user notification flag on products under deviation. BOMControl supports overlapping deviations and allows you to extend the expiration date or force expiration as needed.

You can document the decisions that led to each deviation, and the associated approval process for a complete product history. For more complete change request management, BOMControl offers detailed notification options.

Anyone with proper permissions can create a documented change request which can include files, supporting reasoning and discussion history and send it to the engineer that owns the product for more timely approvals. You can capture field failures and product feedback from operations, customer care and your supply chain to make better sourcing, purchasing and design decisions.

Incoming ideas are connected to their corresponding items so engineers know which changes affect the items they manage.

Capture the detailed cost, availability, compliance and market decisions that shape your design and manufacturing processes over time. Track approvals in threaded conversations, and control supplier participation in your process by hiding sensitive information in the discussion panel.

BOMControl engineering change management preserves not only the changes you've made, but also the full history of what influenced those decisions.

Supplier Collaboration

Everyone in your supply chain can see the same up-to-date information at all times. You can control what information you share by setting a level of access for each supplier—from read-only or component-level access, to full BOM access for trusted partners. You can even bring suppliers into your change process for more efficient feedback loops. You can protect sensitive information by designating any file as private.

Designated suppliers can view your bill of materials, compare redlines, enter quotes, upload files or even participate in your change process. Automatic notifications let partners know when their input is required, when new revisions are introduced or when a part is deviated.

BOMControl’s export functionality makes sending snapshots of your BOM and other key information an easy, repeatable process. Export in CSV, XLS or PDX format, and save your settings for consistency. You can specify a commonly used export format for key partners, and generate the BOM in the format they prefer.

Compliance Tracking

Meet regulatory requirements and manage compliance information for your products and processes with BOMControl. Track, manage and comply with medical, environmental, safety and process standards and regulations.

You can track product compliance for environmental requirements like the Restriction of Hazardous Substances directive (RoHS). BOMControl compliance tracking helps you ensure that dangerous components of electronic and electrical manufacturing are managed to acceptable levels.

BOMControl enables you to efficiently and accurately track standards and certificates of compliance including UL, CE, CCC, FCC, VCCI and others.

Dedicated BOM views and reporting capabilities for compliance enable consistent conformity assessments, while engineering change management capabilities ensure that compliance can be maintained throughout a product’s lifecycle.

BOMControl has native document control capabilities that enable companies to meet ISO 9001:2000 requirements. BOMs and individual files can be managed under revision control with appropriate approvals and notifications.

You can verify and document any internal testing and standards within BOMControl, complete with approvals and notifications.

Project Collaboration

During the new product introduction (NPI) process, detailed project metrics show you the entire project at a glance and allow you to focus on the issues that most need attention. You can check the dashboard to make sure things are on track, or click through for more in-depth analysis.

You can track thousands of detailed tasks, or just a few critical project activities, so you can advance your products from one development phase to the next, even if your product structure is highly dynamic.

You can easily analyze progress at any level of the product assembly, any step in the project, or across a portfolio of projects to enable fast recognition and reaction to problems, changes and critical points.

You can define project templates that represent your high-level business processes, with milestones and phases for various types of projects such as New Product Development/Introduction or RoHS Compliance.

You can automatically generate detailed plans that keep task lists current and enable consistency enterprise-wide.

You can view late, unassigned and behind tasks associated with a project or tracked item in a project and perform "on-the-fly" problem analysis by displaying the earliest deadlines for parent items and latest deadlines for their child items. You can quickly and easily identify and drill down into problems at the portfolio, project or tracked item level.

You can notify users including suppliers of late phases, milestones and new task assignments and automatically trigger alerts for key task deadlines during the new product introduction process.

Additional Features

Flexible, persistent search - Search for components and assemblies, change orders, requests, etc. using multiple criteria including categories, attribute values, etc., then save search criteria to run the same search any time.

Document search - Locate documents by performing attribute search or by searching associations including items, suppliers, requests and changes.

Browsing history - Return to a recently viewed item with one click.

Bookmarks - Access any BOMControl record with one click from saved links on the main Dashboard page.

Configurable reports - Specify complex criteria to filter, sort and download item data. Save and share report formats, and even allow modification at run-time.

Collaborative access - Work with your authorized partners and suppliers by granting them restricted access to item information and enable them to easily download current product information including items, BOMs, and files.

Help - A help system is available on every page.

Built-In Chat and Calls - Discuss product issues and changes with your local team or your global supply chain with Skype. See who is connected to the workspace at a glance.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Content Management Systems Reviews - Documentum - Records Management

EMC Documentum Record Management Solution helps organizations to comply with legal and regulatory requirements for documents retention. This solution allows to capture and manage records generated in the company allowing for its automation. It also expands classic records management with features that track and dispose of non-records in order to reduce discovery costs and mitigate legal risks.

Records management solution is fully unified with Documentum content management platform.

Key Benefits

Risk Mitigation – reduce your content liability by disposing of records and non-records once they fulfilled all legal and regulatory and compliance obligations.

Automation – automate the capture and classification of records.

Comprehensive Management – manage all records regardless of file type or content type.

Centralized Management – allows to manage all records in one place regardless of disparate repositories and regardless of type or location.

Flexibility – it can be aligned with your needs as necessary.

Seamless Integration – integrate with your systems infrastructure including SharePoint.


File Plan Administration – organize recordkeeping requirements across the enterprise with corporate and departmental taxonomies.

Platform Unification – simplify user retrieval with files that remain in place and preserve audit trail integrity for documents creation.

Physical Records Support – manage paper, microfiche, and other types of hard copy records.

Classification – organize records manually or automatically to specify authorities and disposition instructions.

Management of Compound Records – manage multiple documents as single record.

Records Disposal – ensure timely disposal with automation tools for identifying eligible records, requesting authorizations, and scheduling deletions.

Microsoft Integration – declare records within Microsoft Office products including SharePoint.

Automated Capture – integrate Line-of-Business (LOB) systems with little or no customization.

The solution provides: document expiration dates, superseding or prior versions, notifications and reminders, reports, disposition console, automation, digital shredding.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Taxonomy and CMS

Any information system should have two access points - search and browse. When users know exactly what they are looking for, they are going to use search. If you have enabled metadata search in your system, this search is going to be precise and will retrieve documents that users are looking for.

If users do not know what they are looking for, they are going to use browse to navigate to documents. Somewhere, some time during their browsing they may switch to search and then back to browsing.

In order to enable browsing or navigation in your system, you must create taxonomy and organize your documents according to this taxonomy.

But how do you apply the taxonomy that you created to your content management system (CMS)? Each CMS has a hierarchical structure. For example, SharePoint has the following structure: site collection --> site --> sub-site (optional) --> library --> folder, Vasont has collection group --> collection --> content type. And so each CMS has a hierarchical structure which could be adopted to your taxonomy.

Let's look at a specific example. Your taxonomy may look something like this: department --> unit --> content type --> subject --> date.

If we take SharePoint as the CMS you use, then: department = site collection; unit = site; content type = library; date = folder (for some content types) or subject = folder (for other content types).

In other words, each taxonomy unit is the same as a unit in the hierarchical structure of your CMS.

So, our example within CMS would look like this:

Engineering Department Site Collection --> Electrical Engineering Site --> Drawings Library --> Building Electrical Wiring Folder


Engineering Department Site Collection --> Electrical Engineering Site --> White Papers Library --> 2012 Folder

So, if somebody tells you that a CMS does not have a functionality to create taxonomy, ask them what is the hierarchical structure of this CMS and adopt this structure to your taxonomy.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Taxonomy and Controlled Vocabulary

A taxonomy is an organizing principle. It is a foundation on which to base any kind of system. It does not matter what kind of project you are involved in, it will benefit from clearly defined, concise language and terminology. A taxonomy and controlled vocabulary help to fine tune search tools, they creates a common language for sharing concepts, and it allows an efficient organization of documents and content across information sources.

Whether a structured tool such as a CRM system, or a less structured one, like a content management system that organizes information for web sites or intranets, all technologies that deal with information require a basis in taxonomy. This is even more important when various systems must interact.

Taxonomies use controlled vocabularies. For example, the issue of language: I call the person I do business with a Customer. Someone else calls them a Client. When we need to exchange or combine or analyze data which entity are we talking about? What is the document that outlines what we are providing, is it a statement of work, a proposal, an SOW or something else? Controlled vocabulary helps to make terms consistent.

When employees search for information, do they use language that is unambiguous? Can this information be easily found and re-purposed? Are employees sure they are not recreating information that already exists?

These are important questions, but there are larger issues that can have an even greater impact on the organization. Are all of these challenges of business going to be magically solved with a taxonomy? Of course not, but if the underlying structure is not in place, then essential tools, technologies and processes will not function together. Connecting system A to system B makes little sense when a common language has not been established to have information make sense in the new context.

Business Problem

Consider what happens if each department does their job, but accounting people spoke British English, IT spoke a Cajun dialect, legal an inner city slang, and business people spoke the language of scientific researchers. For all practical purposes, the languages they use in communicating with their professional peers are as different as these corners of the English language. In order for documents and pieces of content to be reusable and understandable in all of these different contexts and for these different audiences we need to develop a Rosetta stone of the enterprise. That is an enterprise taxonomy and controlled vocabulary.

Some people think that this is an insurmountable task – getting people to agree on common terms and meanings. Language is too ambiguous and variable, needs are too diverse to be able to develop a common denominator of communication for all circumstances. Instead we create a structure for defining and applying terms and for managing change. The alternative is uncontrolled and chaotic. But too much control is impractical. Determining where to control and centralize and where to allow variability is part of the process of developing and implementing an enterprise taxonomy and controlled vocabulary.

Enterprise Search

There is a prevalent opinion that a Google-like search interface is the answer to the search problem. There are many reasons why this is not true. One is that in a company, many of the clues that Google uses to deliver results are missing. Google will use links between sites to determine how to rank results. If lots of other sites point to a document then that document is deemed to be more valuable. In the corporate intranet, there is no equivalent way of ranking results.

Another fundamental flaw with pure search solutions is that meaning, value, and applicability are context dependent. The usefulness of a piece of content is in the eye of the beholder. A document is useful to a person if this person can use it to solve a problem. This depends upon this person role, task, and background.

A search engine cannot determine these factors and present results based on this person's needs. However, if you perform some process analysis in order to understand a user’s tasks and how they go about solving their problem, you can present information in anticipation of their needs. The role of a taxonomy and controlled vocabulary is to define the labels that correspond to user tasks, experience, needs, and context that helps to refine their search or guide their navigation.

Leveraging Taxonomies

Part of the analysis phase in taxonomy development is to understand what users are trying to accomplish, and then present a set of documents that users should look at when they are performing these tasks. For example, a sales person may be preparing a proposal for a customer. If he/she searches in a large repository for documents, he/she will likely pull up a lot of documents that may contain the term "proposal", but they may not be example proposals that he/she can use.

On the other hand, if this sales person defines the business development function as including proposal creation, he can find sample proposals that will be useful. You can define a tag called "sample proposal" or some other label that we agree will designate documents that can be useful for this purpose.

You may want to go further and define the specific industry, the product or service offering, the size of the deal and so on. By carefully defining labels for the documents you can search based on these labels or navigate to a place where these documents reside. These results will be precisely for your task at hand and will save you from creating a proposal from scratch or from endless searching for relevant documents.

So in the first case search using "proposal" retrieved perhaps hundreds of documents containing the term proposal. In the second case the search contains a smaller subset of documents that more closely meet your criteria.

Imagine that in one repository you refer to proposals for customer service outsourcing as "service outsourcing" and in another repository, you refer to it as "business process outsourcing". If you search on one term, you really also want the documents with the other term. These terms are synonymous. You could make a note of terms that may be used interchangeably and apply a synonym ring to the search mechanism, enabling search on one term to return documents containing the other terms.


As we just observed, search is one area where taxonomies can be leveraged. What about navigation also called browsing? Some people equate taxonomy with navigation. Taxonomy makes navigation possible. By understanding the underlying structure of information and how people access that information, you can propose a structure by which users can click through the content. Navigational structures directly reflect the taxonomy. For example, if you organize content according to departments or functional areas, with geographies comprising navigational nodes, this would be your taxonomy. In other cases, users may navigate according to a task or business process that could start out with a geography and then move to a task, such as customer service.

Taxonomy Development and Maintenance

Taxonomy and controlled vocabulary development and maintenance is an ongoing process. This is very important process. It is essential that we agree on terminology in order to integrate, collaborate, and communicate most effectively. Not addressing this issue will lead to more problems of information overload, difficulties in integrating systems and inefficiencies in the organization.

The short term goal should be to educate your organization on these issues, medium term - to begin the process of formalizing sharing and application of consistent language across systems and processes, long term - the goal would be to develop a mature process for ongoing maintenance and governance of enterprise taxonomies. It is important to start the process now, rather than wait for search, navigation, and access of information to become a big problem.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

How to Select a Content Management System

You have decided to deploy a content management system? How do you select a system? This is the subject of my today's post.

The process of selecting a content management system (CMS) centers on the list of requirements you users have for the system, then vendor presentations, and some sort of selection committee. The process contains the following steps:

  • create a high-level overview of the CMS project and your users requirements;
  • review the market for the products that seem to fit your project and your users requirements;
  • make the first cut from the list of candidates, selecting those that seem worth really pursuing;
  • send a Request for Proposal (RFP) to those who make the first cut;
  • select a small number of finalists by scoring the RFP responses and any follow-up questions that you ask;
  • have technical drill-down meetings and check references from each of the finalists;
  • have a presentation from the remaining candidates;
  • make a final decision by combining the scores for the references and presentations with those for the RRP.

High-Level Overview

To start the selection process, it is useful to create a short project overview that you can include in early correspondence with the vendors. The overview also should orient your selection committee to the major points toward which you are aiming.

To create the overview, take the high points from your project mandate, requirements, and logical analysis. Include in the overview the short description of features that your product should have to make it successful in meeting your needs. Use this overview to orient all involved parties to the key selection criteria and also to provide them with an introduction to the fuller analysis you might have created.

Review the Market

Perform a broad overview of the CMS market looking for products that address your general needs. Here are few tips to conduct your research:

Get recommendations: try sending your overview via email to anyone you can think of who may have an opinion. The recommendations would give you a place to start and a set of products to which you can compare the ones that you find yourself.

Keep your analysis close at hand: have your requirements, logical design, and the selection criteria that you think are most important. Look at them often as you do your search.

Develop a short set of questions that you ask at each web site that you visit: this helps you stay on task and give an even, standard treatment to each product.

Consider core products versus peripherals: develop a quick eye for products that do not have enough core content management functionality to qualify for your search.

Keep a list of your special needs: this list should go beyond standard content management concerns, for example special marketing needs, unusual publications, particular integration, etc. You may come across products that do not address all your needs, but try to find a product that addresses at least some of them. You may find these products helpful later on, either as add-ons to the system that your purchase or as good examples of how a particular need can be met.

Document your search: track down the url of the web site, so you could return to it later.

Do not spend too much time on this process: if in doubt, include a product on your list, you can remove it later.

Start a file: both a physical and a computer file on each product. You eventually will accumulate a lot of material on the ones that make it to the end of the process.

Making the First Cut

Limit your list from the large number of products that have something to do with content management to few that seem to address your particular needs and budget. If you have time, you can contact each company and request a complete marketing package. Be sure to request white papers, case studies, demos, industry analysis, and pricing sheets. In addition, go back to each site and collect as much relevant information as you can about each candidate. Do not be afraid to dismiss those candidates who do not meet your requirements.

The core of the first cut is a preliminary set of evaluation criteria, usually a spreadsheet. Apply your selection criteria to this list of candidates. Involve your selection committee in this process. Score each candidate product using all the resources that you have. Do not do complete and exhaustive analysis especially with your selection committee. Just have them quickly review your list.

The first cut should include 5 to 10 candidates.

Sales Presentation

Now it is the time to get serious. Invite these candidates to present a demo of their product. Do not require preparation of your team or the vendor. Ask for the standard presentation. At the next meeting you can get down to details if necessary. It gives a vendor the opportunity to present their product. Save your probing questions and became immersed in the product as you can. Be positive and try to understand each product positive and negative features.

The vendor tries to qualify you as a prospect as much as you are trying to qualify the company. Try to answer vendor's questions as openly as possible and present your requirements and what you are want to accomplish. Learn the names of the people inside the product organization that you can contact directly for specific information.

Request For Proposal (RFP)

Create the complete selection criteria and turn it into Request For Proposal (RFP). Most likely it would be a spreadsheet that lists all the questions you need answered in order to arrive at a list of finalists.

Selecting Finalists

Plant to have follow-up meetings with candidates that made RFP cut. Before you schedule these meetings, see if you can eliminate any candidates due to lack of response or unacceptable response or poor performance on RFP. In these meetings, go over questions. In the first pass, focus on the issues that candidates did particularly well or poorly in their RFP responses. Make the list of the weak points and determine if these points disqualify these candidates. If you still have questions, ask the vendor to find the right person to answer some specific questions. Use emails, phone, and on-site meetings to move each question to a final score.

Technical Drilldowns

With a small list of finalists you can get down to details. Do a most thorough job of analyzing the RFP and follow-up questions from the finalists and schedule one or more meetings where your technical experts (IT) and vendors' technical experts gather to envision how the system would work and what the relationship is going to be between you and the vendor.

You may also want to schedule additional demos of the product. These discussions should result in a clear idea of how your team would accomplish different task with different systems. Share your full list of requirements with the vendors. Vendors would bring their development or professional services groups who would contribute to the process. Try to ask vendors to bring actual people to these meetings who would be assigned to your project.


Try to contact some companies who use these products. Vendors should be able to help you to identify these companies. But do not leave this process entirely up to vendors. Check the web, check logos on the vendor's site, check conferences, analysts' reports, etc. You need information to help you decide whether a specific product is right for you and whether vendors would deliver what they promised.

Final Presentations

By now you are very close to a decision or you may have a clear leader or you may have decided who you want to work with. But there is no contract yet, only a lot of discussions. You also may have a list of issues that have never been resolved. And you may have people who have the authority to sign the purchase order. You could combine all these needs into a final vendor presentation. It would have the following purposes:

  • final resolution or any outstanding problems;
  • full discussion of the terms of the agreement;
  • executive review of the vendor company;
  • cost estimate.

It is not the meeting to demo the product. It is a meeting to make the final determination whether you want to work together with this company.

Making the Final Call

Now you should be ready to make your final decision. You should have all the information you need. You should also have a numerical winner in the RFP scores as well as project costs. In addition, you have one or more subjective assessments from our team and sponsors. Try to drive for consensus in your selection committee. Create an objective scoring method for the subjective factors. Escalate the decision to someone who can make and enforce this decision. Provide the decision maker with all the information that you have collected.

If you followed this process, you will have succeeded in selecting a system that meets your needs!

Monday, June 4, 2012

SharePoint - Site Content and Structure

Site Content and Structure page is used to manage both the content and structure of your SharePoint site collection. In SharePoint, navigation is dynamically generated from the site collection hierarchy. This means that when you change the structure of the site (for example, if you move a subsite), that change is carried through to the site navigation. Where the item now appears in the site navigation reflects the new location of the underlying subsite.

The actions you can take on this page include more than changing the structure of the site. You can manage content by performing other actions on lists and list items. For example, you check out or check in, publish, and copy items.

To ensure that the interface for the Site Content and Structure page is familiar to you, it was designed to be similar to Windows Explorer. You can see the site collection hierarchy in the navigation pane as a tree view on the left of the Site Content and Structure page. On the right, items are listed in the list pane. To access the Site Content and Structure page, you must have a minimum of Contribute permissions.

You can go to the Site Content and Structure page through the Site Actions menu. If you are at the top level of your site, you will see the menu item listed on the Site Actions menu. If you are in a subsite, you can navigate to the Site Settings page and then navigate to the Site Content and Structure page.

You can use features such as check-out, discard check-outs, submit for approval, or publish items. In addition, you can restructure the site collection by moving, copying, or deleting content items. When content is copied, moved, or deleted, the links associated with that content are also updated.

The actions that are enabled for an item in the Site Content and Structure page are context sensitive and depend on the status of the item. For example, if an item is checked out, the check-out action is not enabled. The actions that are enabled depend on the security context of the current user. Beyond whether an action is enabled for a feature, actions that are enabled or even displayed depend on other factors such as the type of list an item is contained in or if certain features, such as publishing, are enabled in the site collection.

The discard check-outs action, which enables you to undo the check-out action for a different user on either a single item or multiple items, restores items to the state that they were in when they were last checked out. A typical scenario is if an employee forgets to check in files before going on vacation. The manager can use the discard check-outs action to release the files. This action is only available from the Manage Content and Structure page and only if you have the appropriate permissions.

On the Site Content and Structure page, any action that you can perform on a single item you can perform on multiple items by first selecting the items and then selecting an action.

You can copy entire subsites or lists to another subsite in the site collection hierarchy or you can copy individual content items to any compatible library. However, it is not possible to use the copy action to duplicate a library item in the same library.

After you perform the copy action, the site navigation is updated for all navigation components, and the site navigation will reflect that the subsites, libraries or library items are in both locations.

You can move individual library items or entire subsites to another subsite within the site collection. A subsite can be moved to be directly under the top level in the site collection hierarchy or under another subsite in the site collection hierarchy. When you move a subsite, all of the content in the subsite is moved. However, you cannot move only a library (for example, only the socuments library) to another subsite.

When you move a subsite or an item, because the navigation is generated dynamically from the site collection hierarchy, the navigation components are automatically updated so that the new location for the item or subsite is reflected in the navigation.

You can use the move action to efficiently re-architect your site. For example, you might need to rebuild the navigation for your site or move the subsite for a department because they have been reorganized to be under a different group.

This feature enables a site administrator to reorganize a site without forcing site administrators to delete each item individually. Entire subsites or individual items can be deleted from the site collection hierarchy.

If the recycle bin is enabled for the site, list items can be recovered after they have been deleted. However, deleting a subsite is a drastic action: the entire branch is permanently deleted even if the recycle bin is enabled.

You can use the feature "Show and Hide Related Resources" to determine the resources that are called by an item. Resources are any elements used by the page, including page layout, images, Cascading Style Sheets (CSS), links from the page to other pages, links to the page from within the site collection, and links to or from this page. Identifying the related resources for an item is especially useful if, for example, you need to delete an image. By determining the dependencies for that image, you can update the links or resources as necessary.

This feature only shows the related resources for one item at a time. If you do not have an item selected when you click Show Related Resources, the first item in the list pane is selected. Whenever you select a different item in the list, resources are displayed for that item.If your objective is to not display a subsite or page in the site navigation, you should not delete the site; instead you must go to the Navigation Options page and use the Hide function.

There are reports in the Site Content and Structure page. Seven reports are available. When you select a report, all the items that match the filter in the current site and any subsites under the current site are returned. To determine the container for the item in a report, you can point to the name column, and the path is displayed in the browser status bar.

If you have the appropriate permissions on your site, you can create or edit reports to make them specific to your situation or environment. For example, authors might have difficulty locating all of the pages that they are working on throughout the site collection. By running a report, they can find all the items and then, from the report view, they can perform actions on the items in the same way they can in the All Documents view.

Because reports are items in a list, after you create a new report, it is automatically deployed. Also, because reports are list items, they can be version-controlled so that they must be checked before they can be edited.