How do you evaluate a CMS?

It depends.

Have you decided to become a Switcher? Or do you want to do an even-handed comparison between your current CMS and others out there that may or may not be a better fit for your institution?

I almost said, “meet your requirements.”

I avoided that because I want to make the point that when institutions begin the process of comparing solutions, we often don’t even know what our requirements are.

We may think we do. And so the traditional method of preparing a Request for Proposal (RFP) is written with everything we think are our requirements. Generally technical requirements. A big honkin’ document.

The vendors who self-select, or whom we invite to respond, return a similar major document in response. We invite them to campus; they demonstrate what their system does and during this demonstration we actually learn a few more of our ‘requirements’ as the vendor shows us. Sometimes we learn most of what we need to know about what we want that way. Sometimes we misunderstand what they said their system could do, and sadly, find out while implementing.

But what if there were another way?

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4 responses to “How do you evaluate a CMS?

  1. I want to make the point that when institutions begin the process of comparing solutions, we often don’t even know what our requirements are.
    I want to isolate that sentence in all its tragic beauty. Unknown requirements are the root of most evil.

  2. Don’t you know it! ~Laura

  3. Requirements are the things to help you reach goals. So, to build your requirements, you have to decide what you wish to accomplish. Then you have to decide how you will know the goal was accomplished. Only then can you come up with your guesses about what will accomplish them and test they seem to work.
    I’d think your overly generic goals are something like:
    1) Students learn effectively.
    2) Faculty teach effectively.
    You will probably want something more specific.

  4. I just read the PPT here: http://bugs.sakaiproject.org/confluence/pages/viewpageattachments.action?pageId=43330
    It makes several interesting points:
    1) Open source doesn’t have sales people and is obscured in often outdated info.
    2) Sandboxes don’t reflect real-life. Pilots should be just like real-life to tell anything.
    3) Surveys are useless.
    Plus, how do you get around the politics?
    There will not be an obvious choice, but deciding what can be lived without.
    Depressing…. 😦

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