Content management paves the Way

Improving the long-term health of the community is the mandate of the United Way of Greater Toronto.

And that’s a goal this non-profit charity is likely to meet more easily following a recent content management software (CMS) rollout.

The application, from New York-based enterprise content management (ECM) vendor RedDot Solutions Corp., will help automate and centralize United Way’s Web site administration processes.

The business case for the implementation was around managing Web content and streamlining online business processes, according to David Cook, United Way’s information services and e-business vice-president.

United Way routinely publishes details of campaigns and programs offered on its Web site. Previously, the organization managed its Web content manually using an HMTL editor.

According to Cook, this created too many internal system administration problems for the organization’s marketing and IT teams.

Darren Guarnaccia, RedDot’s director of technology said his company’s CMS 6.1 offering targets the mid-market and is suited for organizations with small IT departments. Features such as the SmartDrop function, Guarnaccia said, enables content authors to drag and drop text or images directly on the page.

The CMS solution features enhanced template versioning for workflow control and the ability to version-control the actual structure of the site in addition to the content of the site, he added.

As for its Web content requirements, the organization shares many of the main issues and challenges average enterprises face, Cook said. The goal is to move towards a centralized solution that enables the firm to quickly push content to the Web, he added.

The project started earlier this year with the creation of a central data repository, Cook said.

The organization, he said, has a broad constituent base including donors, agencies and volunteers. “The ability to gather information and present content that’s interesting to [specific] individuals is the unique challenge for us.”

Instead of a single IT staff member bearing sole responsible for the Web content, multiple content authors can now quickly push content to the Web site, Cook said. “[In the past] thousands of pages were managed by (one person)…it was quite cumbersome and complex and the time to market was just too long,” Cook said.

“We can use the same technology to help us distribute information internally into an intranet which we don’t have today,” Cook said. “We typically just share information using public folders in (Microsoft Corp.’s) Outlook.”

The organization also intends to integrate the technology with Web sites of other Canadian United Way branches to support national campaigns in regions that primarily speak French, and to provide content aimed at particular ethnic communities, Cook added.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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