Web Content Management System Consulting for New York University

NYU retained DPCI to assist in business and functional requirements analysis and then in the selection of the best-fit Web content management system to support the redesign of the Institution’s Website.

Founded in 1831, New York University (NYU) is the largest private university in the United States. The University, which is composed of 14 schools, colleges, and divisions, occupies five major centers in Manhattan. It operates branch campus and research programs in other parts of the United States and abroad, as well as study abroad programs in more than 25 countries. NYU is also one of the largest employers in New York City, with over 16,000 employees.

In 2008, NYU set out to redesign the Institution’s Website. The site was an HTML based site where staff had to rely heavily on Web Communications for coding HTML and publishing new content. An extensible platform was needed that would provide multi-site administration and support the vast set of requirements, including the ability for non-technical users across departments at NYU to update and own content.

Realizing the extent of product options in the market, NYU retained DPCI to manage the procurement process for NYU to select an enterprise Web content management system.

DPCI began the project by conducting onsite interviews with key business stakeholders to elicit and document requirements for the Web content management system. DPCI also met with the IT services group to discuss specific architectural, performance, security and regulatory or governance constraints that any solution would need to meet to be considered. NYU ITS expressed a strong preference for a Java-based technology that they could deploy and support across the entire global organization.

DPCI next helped NYU prefilter the considerably long list of Web content management systems on the marketplace down to 13 that roughly met major architectural requirements. DPCI then sent a questionnaire to product vendors to begin assessing how the different products measured up to NYU’s major business and technical requirements.

NYU also retained DPCI to help evaluate three open source projects in the procurement process. These included Drupal, Plone and Joomla.  Whereas vendors replied to the questionnaires directly, DPCI and NYU jointly filled out the questionnaires on the open source solutions.

Next, through internal knowledge, commercially available tools and conversations with the vendors, DPCI staff consultants validated the vendor responses for accuracy. Products that did not meet scoring parameters were dropped from consideration. As a result, the field of vendors was narrowed down from 13 to 9 semifinalists.

Concurrent to the initial filtering process, DPCI conducted stakeholder interviews to elicit functional requirements for the new Web content management system. Using the results of these functional requirements interviews, DPCI worked with NYU to prepare and prioritize a vendor evaluation matrix, made up of a series of worksheets that were distributed to the 9 semifinalists for response.

This methodology was instrumental in helping NYU conduct direct comparisons on the features and functionality that were most important, while minimizing the marketing content that is often submitted during a regular RFP process.

As each vendor response was submitted, DPCI worked with the vendors to ensure that the responses were comprehensive and represented the products in the best light. This information was then compiled and rated, eliminating some vendors that did not match specific criteria, and revealing the strengths and weaknesses of the remaining participants. The top-rated vendors differentiated themselves by most closely matching NYU’s requirements. From these vendor responses, the NYU team reduced the list to four finalists.

As the final step in the Web content management system selection process, NYU invited each finalist to present their solution to the stakeholder team. On NYU’s behalf, DPCI developed a demonstration script derived from the requirements so that vendors could showcase exactly how their system would meet NYU’s needs. Once vendors completed presenting the functionality defined within the demonstration script, they would be given the opportunity to demonstrate other unique features that would differentiate them from the others.

After viewing the vendor demonstrations, NYU was able to compare each system's feature set and select the most appropriate fit for its requirements

Through this consulting engagement, NYU leveraged DPCI’s enterprise content management strategy expertise to elicit requirements, then verify which product best met NYU’s business, stakeholder, functional, and technical needs. This resulted in a quicker, more objective selection process.

At the end of the evaluation process, NYU determined that the Adobe Communiqué solution was the best fit Web content management system for the Institution’s current and future needs. Since the consultation, NYU has implemented Communiqué on behalf of the University’s web communications department as well as other colleges and departments globally.