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Content Authoring: This allows your content contributors to create content and store it in the repository. There are many tools and styles.

Workflow Management: This allows you to monitor, adjust, and maintain the process through which the creation and publishing tasks are done in your organization. Systems range from highly complex to quite simple, but all give you a set of tools to manage the activities of authors and the progress of content.

Content Storage: This feature keeps the content sensibly organized and accessible. Most CMS use a relational database; the point is to store the content in one place and in a consistent fashion.

Publication Management: This allows you to organize your content with metadata and formatting. CMS have different ways of approaching this, but the better ones allow you to define and manage your metadata and your templates.

Publishing: Publishing allows you to merge the content data and the content formatting and move it from the repository to your publication. Different methods exist, but they all allow you to push the content out to some publicly accessible place without the help of your tech team.

Content portability: Since the CMS stores content as data, that data can be inserted into any appropriate output format or template. If you want your article to appear with a blue background in your Members section, but with a yellow background in your General Information section, you don't need to write your article twice. Instead, you write it once and assign it to the blue template and the yellow template.

Design flexibility: Similarly, since the CMS stores the templates separate from the content data, if you want to make a design change, however small (such as changing the font color on a particular type of page) or sweeping (such as changing the font color, type, and size throughout your site), you only need to change the template; the CMS handles the rest.

Single Storage in a Single Place:In a CMS, all the content data is stored in one place, in a consistent way, and perhaps most importantly, only once.

If you've ever suffered because you have nine different versions of an article and you can't figure out which one to use, you'll be happier with a CMS. The system maintains one copy of the content, regardless of how you plan to use it. If, for example, you have a press release that's displayed in your Press Release section, your News Section, and your Archives section, and a mistake is discovered, the process for fixing it will be easier. Without a CMS, you would probably have to fix the mistake in three files; with a CMS, you would fix it in one file (because there's only one data file anyway), and the change appears in all three locations.

Because your content is stored consistently in one system, it's much easier to create relationships (usually hyperlinks) between content pieces and maintain them. For example, if you have several pieces that link to each other, and you move one, the CMS will make the necessary changes to keep the links working.

It's also simpler to create a new piece of content by aggregating other pieces. For example, let's say you have a collection of Internet tips, each stored as a separate piece of content, but all united by the same metadata. A CMS makes it easy to present all those pieces together by creating a template that shows all content that had the metadata, in this case, "type: tip" and "subject: internet". It's also much easier to survey what you have

Finally, should you decide to take all your content and migrate it to some new format, the process should be much easier

All of this means more time and money saved: you don't duplicate work, you don't lose content, and you spend less time managing content.

Workflow Management : Any good CMS will have some sort of workflow management scheme. This usually involves defining certain roles -- such as author, editor, and publisher -- and giving each of those roles some abilities and responsibilities.

Likewise, content can exist in a number of states, such as draft, final, published, or archive, and each state has certain characteristics.

Combine the roles and the states, wrap some logic around it, and you have a workflow system. The author is assigned to create the draft, the editor is notified that the draft is ready to be edited, etc.

Workflow management facilitates better communication, progress tracking, and more efficient content transitions. Even a basic system will notify the appropriate role that a piece of content has reached a state where it needs attention. More advanced systems allow all sorts of triggers and controls to be put into place. None of these features are going to do the work of managing your processes; rather, they give you better visibility into the process and better tools to do the work.

The major gain here is control, which saves time and money by speeding communication and preventing mistakes. The workflow system handles much of the communication, tracking, and measuring so your authors, editors, and publishers can concentrate on writing, reviewing, and publishing, instead of walking around checking on things, looking for lost drafts, and trying to figure out where all the time has gone.

Automated Publishing: When it comes to freeing technical resources from publishing tasks, almost any CMS shines. The CMS allows non-technical people to schedule, trigger, and otherwise manage the process of moving the content to the production environment.

If your valuable technical people are constantly distracted by pushing out small text changes, regularly releasing new articles, or fixing layout issues, the CMS will change their worlds. With a CMS in place, these tasks become things that publishers and editors can do, usually with a powerful set of tools available within the CMS. The technical people maintain the CMS, but it's at much higher level, and their time is greatly freed to handle more technical issues throughout your organization.

Usually, the actual time required to publish your content is reduced. More importantly, the time it does take is spent by the most appropriate people (authors, editors, publishers), and not by people who are probably supposed to be working on a new Web site feature or tuning up the network.

Hopefully, you have a more specific idea of what a CMS does, and how a CMS might save your organization time, effort, and therefore money. On top of that, a CMS will enable you to better manage your content, therefore making it more usable for you and your constituency

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