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Asides

CMS Vendor Meme


Many moons ago now (26th February 2009), Kas Thomas – an analyst at CMS Watch – wrote an article “A reality checklist for vendors“. A month later (17th March 2009), Day – a CMS vendor – responded with “Introducing the ‘CMS Vendor Meme’” – scoring themselves against Kas’ criteria and challenging other CMS vendors to do the same. Open Text responded (”Open Text on the CMS Vendor Meme“) on the 20th March 2009.

You can get a great wrap up on Jon Mark’s blog “CMS Celebrity Deathmatch – The Aftermath” or by doing a Google search for articles tagged with meme identifier 9c56d0fcf93175d70e1c9b9d188167cf.

What seemed to be missing, however, is some client and developer feedback on specific CMS vendor responses – some “keep the bastards honest” if you will. So this is my belated effort with respects to the Open Text response from a humble developer. I hope the conversation stirs up some comments/feedback from other clients/developers and provides more value than just a number. Oh – and I will ignore the ludicrousness of a scoring system that gives even my non-existent CMS a 15/45!

Removing buzzwords and marketese, we can safely ignore the first four paragraphs of the Open Text response and get straight to the questions.

1. Our software comes with an installer program.
Open Text’s Response
: Yes
Open Text’s Score: 3 (Jon scored all of Open Text’s responses as Open Text didn’t)
Adrian’s Response: Yes, though I think I have only used it once for an upgrade.
Adrian Score: 3

2. Installing or uninstalling our software does not require a reboot of your machine.
Open Text’s Response: Sort of; the response is dependent on the underlying OS choice of the customer.
Open Text’s Score: 2
Adrian’s Response: Hmmm. Not sure. I have often seen the server rebooted after an upgrade, but I am not sure whether it is necessary. Certainly there doesn’t appear to be good tools for restarting the services – but I do think the install/upgrade does this for you… Assuming we are both talking about Management Server (aka RedDot CMS) I am not sure what OS choice they are referring to – unless it is for various flavours of Windows?
Adrian Score: 2 (happy to carry Open Text’s score)

3. You can choose your locale and language at install time, and never have to see English again after that.
Open Text’s Response: Yes, as a global company with sales and support offices in most major regions, we have invested in multi-lingual product and support, a key requirement to help enterprises that span multiple geographies and time zones.
Open Text’s Score: 3
Adrian’s Response: Again, I haven’t been directly involved in many installs – and then I only use English anyway – so I can’t confirm. It would have helped for Open Text to provide a screenshot of the appropriate install screen to back up their answer – much more than the wordy marketing response. Or maybe as a developer I just prefer a succint yes/no answer with actual proof?
Adrian Score: 3 (Erring on Open Text’s side minus confirmed experience)

4. Eval versions of the latest edition(s) of our software are always available for download from the company website.
Open Text’s Response: Yes, all our software is always available for download to our customers. The same is true for early beta version to those customers and partners that participate in beta programs.
Open Text’s Score: 3
Adrian’s Response: Although this is true, I don’t think it answers the spirit of the question – which is that this software should be available to non customers to evaluate – which as far as I am aware, it definately isn’t. In my experience, the whole procurement process of Management Server is very tightly controlled by Open Text and its sales team and is in no way “open” *until* you have signed on.
Adrian Score: 1

5. Our WCM software comes with a fully templated “sample web site” and sample workflows, which work out-of-the-box.
Open Text’s Response: Yes, we deliver a demo project with the software. But the demands of global business today require Web Solution products that provide integrations into any eco-system from SAP to Microsoft. Therefore we decided to also provide customer workshops targeted to meet increasingly complex requirements of our customers, e.g. web solutions for SAP or Web Solutions for Multi-Sites.
Open Text’s Score: 3
Adrian’s Response: Again, true – but I think the wordiness of the response hides the fact that the demo project is rather basic. You *need* the workshops because the demo project doesn’t show enough of the system for what you actually *want* to accomplish. Oh, and this is an extra cost thank you as well :) (for the workshops and training that is, not the demo project) Images would help here – or maybe not :)
Adrian Score: 3 (technically has, but very basic – no real world challenges)

6. We ship a tutorial.
Open Text’s Response: Yes
Open Text’s Score: 3
Adrian’s Response: I am not certain what tutorial Open Text is talking about here. The demo project? The context sensitive help? The additional cost training and workshops? Apart from the training and workshops, there is no step by step tutorial showing you how to setup your project, templates and authoring environment to my knowledge. The context sensitive help is probably as close as you get with the product – but it is hardly a tutorial. Images would again help here.
Adrian Score: 2 (because I am nice)

7. You can raise a support issue via a button, link, or menu command in our administrative interface.
Open Text’s Response: “Issues” require a dialogue, and we have built-in support systems and tools that enhance the dialogue but not a single button to “call” support. But the really interesting question here should be, “Do you provide enterprise-class, global service level agreement support?” We serve our customers 24/7 at Open Text.
Open Text’s Score: 1
Adrian’s Response: Yes there is no single button to call support. Funnily enough I have implemented one before (A “bug” red dot to submit an issue to Trac complete with all that information the users forget to provide like server, project and page id!). But still, there seems to be a bit of controversy around this question regardless of Open Text’s wordy answer. What they don’t mention is that you now have to go through two levels of support to get to someone who actually knows the product and standard response is 8 hours. (Ah the joys of being enterprisey – see I can use big words too!)
Adrian Score: 1

8. All help files and documentation for the product are laid down as part of the install.
Open Text’s Response: Yes, in fact we take it one step further and provide an online community called the Knowledge Centre for our customers and partners to get access to the latest and greatest information they need whenever they need it. This ranges from basic information like the documentation and software updates, to best practices and active community discussions with their peers.
Open Text’s Score: 2
Adrian’s Response: Another controversial question, especially with regards to maintaining up to date information. Open Text do provide substantial help files and documenation as part of the install. No, it isn’t everything – training/workshops plus the Knowledge Centre hold more. Haven’t witnessed/participated in any active community discussions with my peers though (through Open Text anyway)
Adrian Score: 2

9. We run our entire company website using the latest version of our own WCM products.
Open Text’s Response: Sort of. The Web Solutions site is running on the latest Web Solutions technology; but some areas of Open Text run on earlier versions. Our priority was to build a platform that allows us to design micro sites we have affectionately named iVillages–sites designed to quickly integrate the newest acquisitions, and adopt emerging social marketplace requirements in a fast and efficient manner.
Open Text’s Score: 2
Adrian’s Response: Can’t add much here. Certainly all of the previously RedDot sites are run in Management Server, and the community site (before it was subsumed into the Knowledge Centre) was run in Delivery Server.
Adrian Score: 2 (I concur)

10. Our salespeople understand how our products work.
Open Text’s Response: Yes, our Web Solutions specialist sales people certainly understand our web solutions products. Given that we offer the entire spectrum of ECM technologies; from WCM to Social Networking (did we forget to mention we have built our own, highly secure and enterprise-friendly social networking platform?) to Records Management (we would be interested to learn what the other vendors’ compliance and e-discovery capabilities are) to enterprise class Process Management … We have specialists and generalists in all these exciting fields.
Open Text’s Score: 3
Adrian’s Response: Well it seems Open Text aren’t the only vendor that believe this. Of course this is going to come down to individuals to some extent, but I can’t help but feeling the support and Web Solution consultants know a lot more about the products than the salespeople. This is the first of the “perception” issue questions.
Adrian Score: 2

11. Our software does what we say it does.
Open Text’s Response: Yes, and more importantly, our customers tell us it does what they ask of it and rely on it for.
Open Text’s Score: 3
Adrian’s Response: The second “perception” issue question, especially relevant as (according to Kas Thomas) it flys in the face of customer satisfaction research – the issue being it not doing what the customers thought it would do! I think Management Server suffers from this in spades. It is very good at ticking checkboxes. It is not very good at being flexible in how it achieves those ticks. Or put another way, so long as you implement the way Management Server wants you to, and you have few additional requirements, you shouldn’t have a problem. Try to get too smart or start considering square pegs in round holes and you will start on a sure and steady journey to implementation hell. Unfortunately, real life is not good at sticking to arbitrary constraints.
Adrian Score: 3 (but make sure it actually does what you want it to do!)

12. We don’t charge extra for our SDK.
Open Text’s Response: Yes, our solutions come with an API.
Open Text’s Score: 3
Adrian’s Response: Doesn’t really answer the question. I have had some fun with this in the past. The SDK seemed to be freely available to US customers, but is definately not freely available to UK customers (requires additional module purchase). Not sure if this has changed with the move to the Knowledge Centre – but doubt it. Regardless, it is certainly not free and posted on the public-facing company web site (not a password-protected extranet).
Adrian Score: 1

13. Our licensing model is simple enough for a 5-year-old to understand.
Open Text’s Response: Let’s say yes. We only had one 6 year old in our focus group, but when I checked with my colleague’s son, he verified in crayon: “one engine and as many wheels you want to add.”
Open Text’s Score: 3
Adrian’s Response: Don’t know, haven’t been involved on the licensing/pricing side. Seems to be a fairly closely guarded secret – certainly isn’t discoverable on their web sites.
Adrian Score: 3 (Err on side of Open Text pending more information)

14. We have one price sheet for all customers.
Open Text’s Response: Yes, but keep in mind we do business in 45 countries across all industry verticals and particular bundling preferences for specific markets will mean differences. We are also unique in the technology space in that we provide end-to-end Enterprise Content Management infrastructures for entire governments. WCM being one element in this holistic information governance strategy. In such specialized cases we are happy to work with our customers to assess a suitable pricing structure for their complete web content requirements.
Open Text’s Score: 3
Adrian’s Response: Sounds like a lot of verbage for a yes answer! Or a very large single sheet! Again, it doesn’t appear to be publicly available, so its hard to confirm. I don’t have any experience to comment one way or the other.
Adrian Score: 3 (Err on side of Open Text pending more information)

15. Our top executives are on Skype, Twitter, or some similar channel, and: Feel free to contact them directly at any time.
Open Text’s Response: Many are, but not all. e.g. Daniel is (he runs web solutions): @danielkraft/www.myifridge.com/myifridge (skype), and most of the web & social networking team is @CherylMcKinnon/candyandaspirin.blogspot.com, @DaveChalmers1, @craighepburn. Maybe it is also worth mentioning that all of our people (including all executives) use internal social networking tools like communities, forums, wikis, IM or blogs based on our own technology…so we walk the talk.

Given our continued growth as a major ECM vendor, we have a healthy diversity among our executive management team that ranges from early adopter technology and marketing strategists to pure business management C-levels responsible for the bottom line. Given the current economy I am glad to have that diversity of experience, street-smarts and education steering the ship, even if they don’t all Twitter…yet.

Cuneyt Uysal, Product Marketing, Open Text Web Solutions/@cuneytuysal/www.cuneytuysal.com/cuneyt.uysal (skype)
Open Text’s Score: 3
Adrian’s Response: Can’t argue with the proof – not that I have ever tried to contact any of them directly. Interestingly, Daniel Kraft is no longer with the company.
Adrian Score: 3

FINAL SCORE
Open Text: 40
Adrian: 34

Conclusion
The scores mean very little – what with the validity of the questions, their particular interpretations and a simple 1 to 3 scoring mechanism. So don’t get hung up on the scores. Who knows what the other systems would score if scored by their clients and/or developers :) What is (hopefully) interesting is the conversation. As a customer and/or developer do you agree, disagree, don’t care or have more to add?

Regardless of our opinions, my hat goes off to Open Text for actually responding – it puts them a lot closer to “getting it” in my opinion than any scoring system. It is interesting that the only other ECM vendor to respond (Vignette) is being bought by Open Text – perhaps they have more in common moving forward than first thought. Now if only they could drop the buzzwords and marketese… (and release the API publicly!)

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About the author:

Adrian Mateljan Adrian Mateljan lives in Reading, United Kingdom but is actually an Australian hailing from Perth, Western Australia. Currently contracting in London specialising in RedDot CMS.

Discussion

7 comments for “CMS Vendor Meme”

  1. Thanks for putting that up Adrian. Your comments echoed most of my thoughts whilst reading the original opentext response. Also regarding point 12. Australian customers get access to the sdk as i think we’re tied in with the US region licensing model.

    Posted by Morgan Ritchings | May 12, 2009, 6:00 am
  2. [...] were extremely corporate and towed the party line. So I was overjoyed to see Adrian Mateljan post his view on the Open Text response to the meme. Score one for the good [...]

    Posted by CMS Celebrity Deathmatch: The Developers Speak | Jon On Tech | May 12, 2009, 8:56 am
  3. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

    This is exactly the kind of posting I was hoping to see. I hope it encourages more of the same. So happy I’ve even written a blog post about it:
    http://jonontech.com/2009/05/12/cms-celebrity-deathmatch-the-developers-speak/

    Seeing you’re also based in London town, I’d love to buy you a pint one day :-)

    Posted by Jon Marks | May 12, 2009, 8:56 am
  4. Thanks for this excellent post, Adrian. I agree that the scoring is, if not totally meaningless, the least important part of the whole exercise. The real point is to see how vendors talk about themselves in public when given a chance to speak honestly about some very simple concerns that apply to almost all software (not just ECM/CMS offerings). It’s obvious that almost every respondent applied a significant amount of “spin” to their answers. In fact I worry sometimes that it may affect the earth’s orbit. :)

    In any case, thanks again for the fine post.

    Posted by Kas Thomas | May 12, 2009, 1:36 pm
  5. Adrian, If you would like to discuss point 12 then feel free to ask your friendly local OT sales rep… me!

    Posted by Ross J | May 12, 2009, 2:37 pm
  6. @Kas: Did the real point achieve anything? (other than some laughter amongst developers?) Unless some of the CMS vendors were brutally honest (or just that good), nothing came out of it except another marketing avenue. We already knew they were good at spin :)

    @Jon: I find it hard to believe I am the first to challenge the CMS vendor responses – but I guess you have to start somewhere. Thanks for the support – with a bit of luck we will be able to derive some real value from the meme. BTW, I don’t drink – so make mine a bourbon and coke, minus the bourbon :)

    @Ross: Will be in touch soon :) (missed you at the Content Day UK)

    Posted by Adrian Mateljan | May 13, 2009, 8:44 am
  7. Nice one, Adrian! Thanks.
    Some additional thoughts:

    2. Installing or uninstalling our software does not require a reboot of your machine.

    Tobias: For the Management Server we *always* had to reboot machines to be sure all services run nicely respectively are removed completly. The Delivery Server can be installed/uninstalled without rebooting the machine depending on the os.

    4. Eval versions of the latest edition(s) of our software are always available for download from the company website.

    Tobias: I fully agree with your score: Eval versions are not available without some kind of sales-interaction. Makes sense to me as – though a lot is out-of-the-box – installation and tests without training/support can be quite unsatisfying.

    Posted by Tobias | May 14, 2009, 4:49 pm

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