The Business-Technology Weave

Feb 27 2011   12:38PM GMT

SSA Revisited (see prior post) – and – Content Management

David Scott David Scott Profile: David Scott


If you’ll bear with me, I may have a rather novel use for a Content Management System.


I had a question from someone recently:  “What is a Content Management System?” (CMS).  Great question –  further, what can a CMS become?


I was presenting a rather high-level view of The Business-Technology Weave, so I mentioned briefly that a Content Management System enables the efficient control and use of information in the organization:  setting triggers for archive, destruct, filing… sometimes just the removal of data from the “active environment” to preclude a glut of information.


It’s so much more of course:  It’s the assignation of metadata (simply:  data about data), tags, “handles,” for the ready “pull” of data into whatever reporting you need.  It sets classifications for data.   A CMS can cough up abstracts for larger information elements:  pointing to papers, reports, related volumes of information – independent of whether reinforcing-content is a document, spreadsheet, presentation, record in a database… info in your finance and accounting system – that is, independent of where content resides (system, building, desk… electronic or paper).  CMS manages the content contained within large, sophisticated, data repositories.  (CMS is a very large subject:  There’s an entire chapter on content and its management in I.T. Wars).


Therefore, CMS grants the ability to leverage dispersed and formerly hidden content, in bringing together scattered information assets that may be silo’d in diverse systems, repositories, departments, and so on.  A good CMS even documents the location of content that exists solely on physical paper assets.


In looking at the Social Security Administration (SSA), and related problems with their new data facilitiy and allied project, I wonder if CMS was being employed in any way? 


Most folks assume CMS is for the tracking, leveraging, reporting, and managing of information – for sole purpose of delivering to the “outside” mission.  That mission can be educating students, selling widgets to customers, providing legal services to clients, manufacturing cars, surveying labs for regulatory compliancies…  managing and dispensing payments to social security recipients…   the mission can be anything.  The “doing” of whatever it is you “do.”  Most folks employ CMS largely for what I’ve mentioned above.


But CMS can do something that may be a rather novel application:  You can register and track assets – an inventory (nothing new there), but one with “tethers” – the metadata to note any asset’s relationship, support to, and vulnerability within other supports, against all other inventoried assets – “CMS’d” assets.  I wonder if anyone is utilizing CMS in this manner?


Once all assets are “CMS’d”, keeping up-to-date is fairly easy:  Upon procurement of any resource, it is a fairly rapid and efficient task to create a record in a CMS for it.  Populated are key metadata fields with the date of procurement, purpose, class of employees supported, some history regarding the vendor (years in business, size, market presence…etc. – yielding anticipated longevity), and all associated assets and systems with dependencies and supports.  A general notes section adds to the metadata, all searchable within CMS, blooming any and all of the organization’s critical infrastructure and systems supports and dependencies; anticipated dates of major updates; anticipated dates of obsolescence, or consideration thereof.  As to that consideration, remember BIT anyone?  Ah… it all weaves together…


This does a couple things:  You don’t get surprised by antiquated, incompetently produced, cabling schemes that grew over the years as different people procured new systems, stuffed more cables under a raised computer room floor, cramming them in until it’s a snake pit.  A snake pit with no accompanying documentation or possibility of anything resembling this millennium’s best-practice-discipline of Wire/Cable Management.


Critical power sources are not located near water.  If they are, a plan for the relocation of power (or water) is at least considered.  It goes somewhere on the Five Year Plan (hopefully more near-term than far), and gets budgeted and scheduled according to the other priorities and initiatives in the organization.


It may seem a burden to administer this – but you have someone, or a whole department, inventorying already:  This is an inventory with relationships; the who, what, when, where and why for each asset, its intentions, and its relationships.  It can be done; with efficiency and accuracy.  Then turn the CMS wheel in updating, retiring, acquiring, and blending all assets for maximum gains vis-à-vis ROI, TtV, and TCO.


The Weave; it serves.



Thought for today:   

Few people are capable of expressing with equanimity opinions which differ from the prejudices of their social environment.  Most people are even incapable of forming such opinions.   Albert Einstein

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