Capturing Customer Requirements for Content Management

Using Customer Scenario® Mapping to Gather Requirements for Information Attributes, Metadata, Roles, and Responsibilities

December 24, 2003

Enterprise content management initiatives are notoriously difficult to scope and to pull off well. That’s because unmanaged content is everywhere, organizational boundaries and fiefdoms abound, and information and content is housed in a plethora of information silos. Here’s the best way to launch any ECM initiative: start with the audience for the information; identify that audience’s critical scenarios; then identify the information and content required to support those scenarios, the content attributes and metadata, and the roles and responsibilities. Here’s how.


Implementing enterprise content management solutions is a daunting task. It’s probably the most difficult challenge confronting most organizations. Unlike an ERP or CRM initiative, it’s very difficult to bound the scope of a content management initiative. Content is everywhere throughout your organization, and most of it is unmanaged.

The goal of enterprise content management is to ensure that the information being used by the different audiences who interact with your organization—both external audiences and internal audiences—is current, accurate and consistent (in print, online, from a contact center rep) and relevant to the task(s) at hand.

We recommend that you bound the scope of each content management project by focusing first on the audience for whom the content is intended and, second, on the three-to-six most critical scenarios for that audience. Ideally, you should do your requirements gathering across audiences and scenarios but implement your projects one audience at a time.

How should you gather audience requirements? We suggest that you use the same Customer Scenario® Mapping (CSM) technique you can use to gather customer requirements for any project or initiative. What follows is a description of how to apply the technique to capturing content management requirements. You’ll see that, in each mapping session(1), you can capture audience priorities, metrics, and identify audience-critical content attributes. You can identify information objects at the correct level of granularity to be managed and determine what metadata is required to make those objects manageable. You can also easily identify the roles and responsibilities of the creators and custodians for each type of information object.

The purpose of this Report is to describe the kinds of content management requirements that can be easily captured in a Customer Scenario Mapping session. But “don’t try this at home”! In order to get the desired results, you will need to be trained in the methodology (or to work with a certified CSM consultant).


Impact and Investment are Underestimated

Most organizations vastly underestimate the investment they’ll need to make in implementing and instilling a content management culture in their organizations. Now that we’ve moved to the era in which all information is created, stored, and distributed electronically, we have unleashed an unmanageable mess within our organizations—a mess that is spilling out of our firms to adversely impact our key stakeholders.

CULTURE-CHANGE TAKES TIME! We believe that it will take most organizations at least five years to instill and/or to clean up their content management processes. This content management process clean-up will require the informed participation of most employees. Content management is a cultural and organizational initiative, not a technology solution.

Requirements Are Usually Gathered from Current Content Creators and Disseminators, Not the Audience for the Information!

Many content management projects go awry because the requirements’ gathering is done inside out. We’ve seen too many projects founder because content management teams focused primarily on defining the content lifecycle and the metadata needed to support the lifecycle. Don’t start by documenting your existing information flows and interviewing the current content providers, maintainers, and disseminators! Instead, you should focus first on what information is most critical to the audience for whom the content is intended and, second, on how that content should be created and maintained.


If you want to deliver both quick benefits and lasting change from enterprise content management, start your initiative by capturing the kinds of information your intended audience needs to access. Then work from the audience’s requirements back to identify the content and information you’d need to have in place in order to ensure that the intended audience always is presented with the correct information in context.

You’ll discover that it’s easy to pinpoint the types of information your audience needs, categorized in the ways that they typically think about things. You’ll learn what kinds of content and data need to be integrated in order to anticipate and address your audience’s questions. You’ll uncover the interactive information tools your customers will need, such as comparison charts and calculators. You’ll learn what real-time information your audience will want, such as current audience-specific pricing, inventory-on-hand, bug fixes, and promotional offers.

You can capture the audience-critical moments of truth and metrics about content consistency and accuracy; those audience requirements will yield the metrics that should drive and prioritize your editorial workflows and business processes.

Using customer scenarios to gather content and information requirements, you’ll discover many of the ways in which the same content will need to be leveraged or reused in different formats, contexts and media (from contact center scripts to printed catalogs, to e-markets, to customer self-service wizards).

Once you’ve pinpointed the information you need to manage, you can identify the roles and responsibilities for everyone involved in creating and maintaining the information you’ve identified. At the same time, you’ll be able to describe the metadata you’ll want to have in place to make that information easy to maintain and to update.


The audience for whom information is intended is the “customer” or end-user of any content you’re creating and/or maintaining. Doesn’t it make sense to begin your content management requirements gathering by beginning with the intended audience(s) for each type of information?

Don’t begin your requirements gathering by interviewing everyone involved in creating and maintaining today’s content. That’s a waste of time...

Sign in to download the full article


Be the first one to comment.

You must be a member to comment. Sign in or create a free account.