Monday, July 07, 2003

Jack of all trades and the custom CMS disease
There is a vendor I work with that really wants to get our CMS business. I've committed to CrownPeak Technology's ASP offering for at least one site. I enjoy working with this vendor who wants our business. They only put forth the utmost effort and never whine about the 100's of stupid questions I ask just about every week.

The problem I have with this vendor doing our CMS is the fact that we would be their first CMS customer. They want to use Merant's Collage CMS, which Merant presented a demo to me on. I was impressed with what they had but still had to come back to the fact that CrownPeak gives me a solid product with the experience to back it up. Plus, CrownPeak's core business is CMS. This other vendor is a jack of all trades. They don't have a single commercial CMS package installation under their belt. My concerns, as I've expressed them to this vendor, are clear.

Today some of the services this vendor provides have been a bit shaky. A server crashed causing one service to go down completely. Another service is behaving in odd manners. Yet another one is failing on a critical process and doesn't handle the errors properly. I can't help but think about the consequences of doing CMS with this vendor. If you aren't an expert at any one thing, then how can I depend on you to make a very important project (for us anyway) like CMS successful? I can't afford to have these types of hiccups. The users are suspect of IT these days. We don't communicate and we often don't appear to deliver on our promises or, worse yet, we don't deliver. I can't let this project fall into the category of “yet another failed IT project.” I need a company, a product and a service that delivers the goods. I need a company that has a history of delivering the goods. CMS isn't rocket science (as this vendor pointed out to me) but it can definitely turn into a mess real quick if you don't do it right.

I wanted to post this to remind myself that it's important to deliver on the work you already have with a client. Don't go chasing more business when the existing business you have with the client is beginning to crumble due to your not being able to deliver.

Also important to note here: If you are an agency of any sorts that provides web site development services, please do not continue to build custom CMS systems for every client you encounter. Buy, don't build. Standardize on one or two CMSes that will do the job for most of your clientele. Become experts on those systems and watch the smiles on your clients' faces as they get a solid CMS on time and for less money. You benefit and the client benefits. It's a win-win. This makes so much more sense than building custom CMSes that require extensive coding and testing and provide maybe 50% of what a commercial package/service can offer. If you're concerned your client will bypass you and go with the packaged solution, then you most likely don't provide much added value to your client. Sell your expertise. Sell the client on how much faster and how much cheaper you can implement a CMS for them with one of your preferred packages/services. Heck, sell the client on an ASP like offering. You host the CMS and provide everything the client needs to get up and running. The client doesn't sink a dime into infrastructure and you have a new reoccurring revenue stream. But please, whatever you do, don't sell the client on a custom built CMS. Enough said.
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The RIAA first concern is for the artist
CNET: This has to do with artists and creators. Artists and creators, like anybody else who creates something, should have the right to sell what they create...Indeed, most artists spend a lifetime trying to sell the result of their efforts to record companies so that they may make a living making music. At the end of the day, that is a great thing for music lovers--otherwise artists would have a lot less time to create the music we all love.

Does the RIAA expect us to believe the line that their case is all about the artists and creators? No way. This is about an industry that is being turned upside down and wants to protect its old way of doing this. If this was about the artists, then the RIAA would be pushing for P2P networks to work even better. Artists benefit from the power of the Internet, old school record labels do not.
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Feedster == Fast
Chris Sells points out that Feedster is a lot faster now. I tried it out and it screams. I'm going to start using it now.
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Where are the Liberia related protests?

BBC: A US military team arrives in Monrovia to assess how best to bring stability to war-ravaged Liberia.

We may very well be going into Liberia.  Where are all the protestors on this one?  It's different you say.  We're going to be going in as a peace keeping force to protect millions of people from being killed off by a brutal dictator... Oh wait, that's not so different.  Nevermind.

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Last minute projects
I worked on a very last minute project last week. I got it up and running within a couple of days — enough time for those heading up the project to review the work. I didn't hear anything back. I requested feedback several times — nothing. I figured the work was OK so on Thursday last week it went live on the site. The person heading up the project comings rushing into my cube this morning saying it was a disaster. The data wasn't complete and they had to fix it themselves. I apologized for the mistake on my part and let it go at that. Mind you, I wouldn't know if the data was complete or right but oh well. In a follow up email I added that next time we need to review the work before it goes live. Isn't this just common sense? If it was important enough for her to come and make me aware of the problem she already emailed me on earlier, then shouldn't it be important enough to take five minutes and review the work? She claimed last week that she was “swamped.” Fair enough. But don't expect things to go off without a hitch when you're not willing to finish the job.

In the end, I admit I should have pushed harder for a review prior to go-live and not let the project go live until it got signed off on. That is completely my fault and that is why I needed to apologize.

Alright, it's over. I've made my point clear and whined enough already this morning. I'm praying God gives me patience and strength to let it go and improve on things for the future.
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The Colonel