My first week at Systems Alliance has been jam-packed with meetings, project kick-offs, project hand-offs and CMS training. Unlike my earlier experience with CMS training, which involved visiting vendors in Boston and Denver, this time all I had to do was walk down the hall to SiteExecutive training room where my colleague – and ace trainer – Sabrina Mosley was ready to give me the first of several private lessons on using SE.

With the week’s lessons fresh in my head, I found myself reflecting on the CMS training I’ve had and the impact of CMS training on the short and long-term success of client deployments. Considering the investment made in Web projects, the cost of CMS licenses (and customizations) and the value-creation potential of an effective website, clients ought to take full advantage of CMS training.

Anyway, check out these tips – they’re guaranteed to help you get more value from your CMS:

Tip 1: Allocate sufficient budget. When you are budgeting for your CMS deployment, don’t skimp on training. Take advantage of the training that is available; attend all sessions aligned with your needs. If you have a larger team of content editors, authors and approvers, make sure your budget allows for multiple sessions for those different users. Break them up into different sessions – an author session, approver/editor session, an administrator session and so on. By under-investing in training, you undermine your team’s confidence and competence, impacting the quality of content creation, site maintenance and value creation.

Tip 2: Assign a “Champion.” Before you arrive for training, someone internal to your organization must be identified as the CMS “champion.” This person will take charge of learning the system and absorbing the training so that they will be able to retrain other users.  Face it, the team you train initially is not going to be with your organization forever. To protect your investment, make sure someone on your team (and for larger organizations make it more than one) can be the trainer – the champion – who supports your evolving team.

Tip 3: Spread out your users.  Make sure that you have a good number of users in each session. It’s really easy to say, “We have 10 authors and we want to include all 10 of them in the author training session.” That’s often not the most efficient approach. When sessions get too large, you can lose a lot of time answering the same questions and going over content again. Six to eight users is about the right number for an in-depth hands-on session.

Tip 4: Be Prepared.  If you are moving from one CMS to another, when you attend the training, come prepared with real-world examples of how you are currently creating content, e.g., press releases, articles, events, profiles, etc.  This will help your trainer help you not only learn the new system, but potentially optimize your content creation processes.

Tip 5: Take home Materials. At the end of your training, get as much training documentation as you can in an editable format, like a Word document or PowerPoint file. Using editable documents will let you or your team’s champion customize the training by adding your own comments, directions and tips. Chances are you will find a slightly different or more efficient way of managing your content. Hence, by capturing your updates you can ensure these process improvements will be passed on to other team members. Likewise, you may find it makes sense to share your adaptations with others in your CMS user community.

BONUS Tip: Along with your training documentation, create an internal style guide that shows examples of how your site’s content should be formatted. This would include link styles, un-ordered or bulleted lists, header tags (H1, H2, H3, etc.), and all other common content elements. Having an official and complete guide eliminates confusion, reduces errors and revisions saving time, and improves the overall quality of your site.

Systems Alliance offers a variety of training options to improve your content management experience. SiteExecutive customers can learn more by visiting the training section in our Support Center.