Case Study: Digital Experience and Mobile
SITUATION & BUSINESS CHALLENGE
A nonprofit healthcare organization in the western U.S. providing hospital care, community health, and educational services saw the opportunity to dramatically enhance one of its mobile apps targeted toward a user base of nearly 30,000 expectant mothers. The organization reviewed, wrote and uploaded articles involving all stages of pregnancy into the app, and also licensed the app to several external providers who branded it under their own names.
The client’s goals were to expand the user base to exceed 1 million subscribers, triple the outside provider license base, and expand their third-party content beyond the realm of pregnancy from the current 4,900 articles to nearly 50,000 articles.
The mobile app’s content management system (CMS) was a barebones pilot developed by a third party based on Django open-source technology. The ad-hoc Django solution met the organization’s basic needs for hosting content and feeding it into the app experience, but the architecture design presented big hurdles in trying to support the massive growth projected. Several limitations stood in the way:
- Content input formats used for import were not standardized, and there was no structured content review and approval process.
- The solution lacked basic role-based permissions, so basically all users had equal rights to add, remove, modify, and publish content.
- Content lacked versioning and had no recycle bin functionality. Changes to published content required that it be deactivated and replaced.
- Browsing and searching digital assets within the CMS was arduous, and search suffered from severe performance issues.
- The ad-hoc system also made use of overly complex tagging, and lacked accessibility support.
Wanting to scale the app but lacking the knowledge and skillsets for the effort, the organization was at a crossroads. The client could not decide whether to continue building out their custom open-source solution or invest in a more mature off-the-shelf CMS solution.
The client decided to look for outside expertise to help make its decision. In talking with some well-established consulting firms that specialized in CMS, they were still unconvinced. Their situation had the unique nature of exclusively using native mobile apps to deliver content to subscribers. Most firms were conflating mobile web with mobile apps and failing to recognize and articulate the isolated native mobile experience.
As a result, they looked to AIM Consulting, who had already delivered several successful projects related to content management and native mobile experiences throughout the organization.
AIM brought together a team of experts in business analysis, native mobile experiences, and open-source and mainstream content management technologies and solutions. The team worked with the client to articulate and verify their business and functional requirements. They then used those requirements to evaluate the existing platform and compare it to other potential solutions. Working with the client, the team then scored and ranked each potential outcome and presented the resulting recommendation and strategy to the client for consideration.
As part of the engagement, AIM produced the following deliverables for the client to use going forward:
- Vendor Demos – The AIM team invited select CMS solution vendors to respond to the requirements and demo their solutions to the client team, which were recorded for later reference.
- Research Findings – A detailed report was produced outlining the team’s research, observations and conclusions, including but not limited to the following:
- A summary of the major challenges, frustrations, and inefficiencies plaguing content managers and possible future challenges they will face as the team attempts to scale.
- The key findings from the evaluation of the existing CMS with several recommended feature enhancements to alleviate the team’s concerns, short and long term.
- Proposed roadmaps and frameworks for the respective proposed strategies, including a summary of the pros and cons for each, with mitigation options:
- Scale and manage the current open-source solution, allowing the client to tailor the solution to thier own needs, but with a high cost and complexity.
- Build on a decoupled Platform as a Service (PaaS) solution, enabling the client to build out requirements over time, but with less flexibility.
- Buy or subscribe to a Software as a Service (SaaS) solution, which would provide speed to market with out-of-the-box features. Conversely, the client would have to contend with added vendor involvement and higher up-front costs.
A scorecard comparing and ranking the existing and alternative solution paths, weighted according to priority and capability.
After compiling a list of comprehensive recommendations, AIM presented its findings to key stakeholders. The presentation was eye-opening for the client in many aspects. Managers realized that their knowledge and understanding of their current CMS, including their content management processes and solutions was not as deep as they had thought. AIM emphasized that the client would need to acquire a number of new skillsets regardless of its chosen path, and that significant development would be needed going forward. The client would also need to ramp up its content owners and managers on more standardized content management practices.
AIM emphasized that open-source software licensing models, versus vendor licensing models, can best be viewed in terms of total cost of ownership (TCO), where the associated pros and cons are largely driven by the business, internal staff, aspirations and scalability and alignment of the platform to the goals of the business and customers offers the best outcome.
The client was very satisfied with the results and outcome of the study. AIM not only delivered a clear picture of the problem and challenges, but also a pragmatic path forward that the client could take. They are now armed with a much deeper sense of where they currently stand and what steps are necessary to move forward. Moreover, the client now has scorecards for dissecting costs and determining what features it might or might not be able to incorporate in its solution. It also has the guidelines to further disseminate the various approaches if it chooses to do so.
Following the engagement with AIM, the client was able to make an informed decision.