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ESSENT IAL BUSINESS TECH EXECUTIVES, PROFESSIONALS & ENTREPRENEURS expense report back to the salesperson, who must then change the report and begin the process over again. These are only two real-world ex- amples out of a magnitude of potential cases that illustrate content collabora- tion, and more importantly, how inef- ficient it can be. However, CMS (content management system) software can help, by allowing users to more easily com- plete work tasks and processes that re- quire input from several parties. WHAT CMS IS CMS allows users to access a single Web-based interface to collaborate on content that is shared and made avail- able to those that need to access it on a real-time basis. In this way, CMS can facilitate the management of content and workflows that require direct input from two or more users. Common fea- tures of CMS include the ability for users to edit and store content with a shared template. In addition to updating websites or processing expense reports as de- scribed in the example above, CMS can be useful for a number of tasks. These might include processing and cre- ating invoices, contracts, bill of lading, purchasing orders, customer records, policy documents, or any content that requires input from different users. For website updates, CMS allows users to make changes to content on a template, while others can make changes to it without having to rely on the webmaster to complete the task. Expense reports are filed and stored with scanned receipts, which anyone who needs to can process and change as needed. LOW-HANGING FRUIT Enterprises commonly get their feet wet with CMS by using it for Web publishing. This is because al- most all businesses have a website and they need an efficient way to up- date it on a regular basis, which CMS can help them to do more efficiently. As with the first scenario described above, users without access to CMS often have to post content by emailing it to the webmaster. The webmaster also has to intervene anytime changes must be made. Instead, non-technical users can use CMS to post and pub- lish content directly on a commonly shared template in a matter of minutes. Anybody who needs to change the con- tent or approve it prior to publication does so on the same template. As a real-world example, CMS has lead to significant improvements in the management of the website for the Schwartz Center for Economic Policy Analysis at the New School in New York, says Bridget C. Fisher, who works as an associate director for the Schwartz Center For Economic Policy Analysis (www.economicpolicyresearch .org) at the New School in New York. Posting new Web content used to be very difficult and complex, but now it is easy and straightforward, she says. Fisher’s team uses Joomla (www .joomla.org) for its CMS website needs, which she says is free to use as an open source alternative while installa- tion, training, and design costs totaled $12,000. “With CMS, [our team] can ac- tively engage in putting content up on the website,” Fisher said. “Previously, it was terrible and complicated. I had to call up the Web department at the uni- versity just to do anything.” Fisher also says that CMS has stream- lined how content is collaboratively cre- ated and posted. While she describes herself as a non-technical user, Fisher says she is able to complete advanced tasks for the site by herself, such as the warehousing and archiving of research papers, posting video content, creating search functions, or adding blog rolls. While they take more time to complete than posting text and pictures, they are not overly complex or difficult with CMS. “Before CMS, I had to go through the webmaster to do these types of things, which I usually would just not have time to do,” Fisher said. One of the beauties of Web CMS is that different users who need to can access content with an Internet con- nection. For Fisher’s team, anyone can Bridget C. Fisher associate director, Schwartz Center For Economic Policy Analysis “With CMS, [our team] can actively engage in putting content up on the website. Previously, it was terrible and com- plicated. I had to call up the Web depart- ment at the university just to do anything.” Alan Weintraub analyst, Forrester Research “For internal [col- laboration], CMS can work for anything for which you are acquiring information and integrating it into a back-office system while automating the process. It’s going to have an easier and high ROI because it is really hard to do those things [without CMS]. You can show efficiencies and speed to process.” PC Today / January 2012 15