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Getting a charge from content management

This article appears in the issue February 2005 [Volume 14, Issue 2]

A few years ago, BC Hydro, a large electric utility company in British Columbia, decided to evaluate content management systems because of the rapidly growing body of sophisticated content on its Web site and intranet. Its goals were to gain control of that content, to implement template-based designs and to increase the overall efficiency of its online publishing.

The company eventually chose Rhythmyx Content Management System from Percussion. "We chose it because it was more open standards-based; it was based on Java and it had a more open architecture," says Mike Wenzlaff, Web architect of BC Hydro's Customer Communications department. "There was less proprietary setup involved than with the competition, and it had more flexible architecture. Plus, some solutions were only Microsoft-based, and we didn't want to be locked into any single platform."

In 2002, BC Hydro rolled out is implementation of the solution simultaneously with a major redesign of its Web site. Wenzlaff's department manages both the external Web site and the company's Rhythmyx implementation.

"We maintain only one to two Web developers, but they've been able to manage four times the amount of content than they could before we started using the solution," Wenzlaff says. "Plus, we have other employees on the intranet side who can manage much more content more easily. On the external Web site, the management of all our content is completely centralized. But on the intranet side, the management of content is completely decentralized to the department level. We find this approach works quite well."

In summer 2003, BC Hydro began what was at that point its largest Rhythmyx project to date—deploying its internal knowledgebase of customer service information, which it calls Genius. Genius contained about 3,000 content items, including policies, procedures, consumer Q&As and public information on many topics. The content ranges from regulatory information to conservation issues, sales and services, and aboriginal relations. Once stored in the new system, the volume quickly grew to 10,000 content items and now numbers more than 12,000 systemwide.

Before moving to the new system, Wenzlaff says, two people supported 2,000 to 3,000 Web pages and files. With the new system, one or two people manage more than 12,000 items—quadrupling the productivity.

Early in 2004, BC Hydro implemented Rhythmyx 5 ECM, upgrading from Version 4. "Version 5 really gave us big improvements from the user perspective," says Wenzlaff. "It makes things easier for our users, requiring very little training for them and supporting the easy reuse of content ... When it's time to present it with a new look and feel, we just create a new design template and the content is republished in a half an hour."


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