Monday, January 30, 2012

Top 7 project-killing "Best Practices" - Part 3

Thanks for checking back! Here's the final post in the series and the last two Oracle UCM anti-patterns you gotta be aware of:

Component Hell

Just  as the name suggests, this is an all too common final destination of these dozens of Content Server installations maintained by Component Lovers. Whether for the love of java code, pride of craftsmanship or an old stupid belief that complexity creates job security, these folks package everything as java components.
A component for a custom check in form, when a simple HCSP page or a content profile can do the job... A component for duplicating the out of the box content expiry feature... A component for custom reporting instead of using the Content Tracker.... A component for custom Content Server User Interface and then putting it into an iFrame inside the Site Studio web site... Cheez! A 5 week project that was replaced by a simple HCSP Region Template, done by a junior developer in a day!
Reinventing the features that come ready to use with the Content Server, the Site Studio or any of these many supported and documented additional components from Oracle – for no good reason is a crime so when a business is asking for a few feature to be developed – make absolutely sure you’ve checked all the features and all supporting products in the UCM suite and building a custom component is justified.

Short Names

Or meaningless names used in the titles, content IDs and identifier names in your iDoc scripts better be avoided. When you check in a Page Template and Site Studio – be sure to specify a content id. If you don’t – the template will look funny in the Designer.
When creating a Region Template, I personally prefer to call it _RT_
There you have it. Not an exhaustive list by any means and not an earth-shattering revelation. I bet you were aware of many of these before... But hopefully, this article have stirred up some thoughts and you will “make 3 steps back” re-examine your UCM practices and your system from a new angle. It’s one of those “small things” that can reverse the trend and bring forth the big things you really want to see in your projects.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Top 7 project-killing "Best Practices" - Part 2

This is the follow up to the post I've cooked up for you over the holidays. Here're another two oh... way too common, embarrassing situations a UCM project may end up in... and how to prevent them:

The Snowball

This is what happens when you ignore the rule above.

Picture yourself having a nicely configured system with clean data. Every document has correct meta values. Now you begin asking for a field that doesn't make sense.

Your contributors will begin putting garbage there... And they'll be putting garbage in other fields as well! How?

Once you done it in one filed - you just keep on typing "asdf" all the way down the form...

The system will soon become polluted. And you might end up losing the meta values for your entire repository. Why?

You won’t know which records have the real values - and which just garbage. Soon enough you won’t be able to trust the data anymore!

Keep an eye on what content is getting entered. And always keep communicating with your business users. Know this single, most expensive type of ECM activity - manual Cleansing and Matching. Unless you have an army of data analysts looking for stuff to do - I don't recommend you letting your project get to this point, so you must try really hard to prevent it.

Gold Plating

This one is a UCM-specific twist on every developer’s all times favourite. All too often I see technical teams continuing to toy with a task or project way past the point when its ripe and ready for the business to start using it.

The key here is to have a live working system in the hands of your business people - as soon as you possibly can.

And then keep improving it. All you need to do is make small incremental changes. Like adding different types of documents, new modules, new workflows etc.

Keep listening to feedback. If business is happy - you did great. If not - all you have to undo is just a few more of these small changes!

And don’t try to bite more then you can chew and don’t sit on an egg that has already hutched! You build 80% of value in the first 20% of the time you're working on the project and that's a really good time to have a business take a look and make a call if they'd like to start using it.

Sounds good?

Ok, gotta go...  back to client's work!

Stay tuned for more.