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Management models in CMS

There's been conversation recently on the uwebd (University Web Developers) listserv about the appropriate management model in a CMS environment. Specifically, if content updates should be managed by a central unit or through a distributed network of department web editors.

Just to be clear, when it comes to monitoring and maintaining website content through a CMS, there are two basic management models

  1. Centralized: Consists of a smaller group or team in which content change requests from university clients are funnelled through; access to the CMS software is limited to people within the group/team who are typically given greater administrative authority.
  2. Distributed: Consists of a larger network of individuals from university departments who are directly responsible for content changes; access to the CMS software is unlimited, but authority to perform certain functions may be restricted.

Because colleges and universities are insanely diverse places, most end up with a hybrid of both. Even for the most seasoned web manager, keeping an enterprise-level website current amidst people with a wide variety of skills (and high turnover), small (and shrinking) budgets, few (and frozen) resources is a daunting challenge. It's no wonder why some are discovering simply implementing a CMS isn't the golden chalice they'd expected, or the vendor promised.

Even though both models present different challenges, the distributed model will prove to be more effective in maintaining higher education websites.

The reality is very few institutions will ever invest in web departments to the degree necessary to sustain a centralized management model. Also, website content is expanding beyond our websites. With Web 2.0, managing content now takes on dimensions not limited to the .edu domain or even just text and images.

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