When is 30% Better Than 80%?


There is a basic misconception that is plaguing the Content Management industry. This misconception is that 80% is better than 30%. Without context, it doesn’t seem like much of a misconception, but trust me, it is a problem.

The missing context? What percentage of features that organizations are looking for does a solution have out-of-the-box?

The answer is never 100% unless you are the ONE organization that matches the generic solution template. Still, you can usually find a solution that gets pretty close if you tweak a few internal business rules that are more of a business tradition than an actual need.

Selecting the Solution

Imagine you are selecting a new Content Management solution. It is vendor selection week. You have narrowed it down to two vendors. One is a traditional vendor that meets 80% of your needs with basic configurations, though they are claiming 95% to get the win. The other vendor is a cloud vendor with 30% of your requirements and telling a story of how people in your organizations is already using the product.

Which vendor do you choose?

Assuming equal cost, which likely favors the cloud vendor, you might be tempted to take the 80% solution. The part that most people don’t realized that the problem here isn’t just the difference in features.

The real problem here is project risk and adoption.

Risk Factors

No projects are risk free, you CAN limit and mitigate risks. Permanently ignore anyone who insists on making that statement.

Risk is also dependent on the measurement of success. If I measure success as 40 blog posts written in a quarter, there is significantly more risk to success than if I set the goal at 20 blog posts.

Let’s apply risk to the our Content Management project.

With the traditional vendor, let’s assume that you don’t buy into the 95% claim and are willing to settle for 80% to keeps the project from getting too bloated with development, a major risk factor itself. That still leaves configuration for the 80% to be delivered, involving requirement and design sessions and getting people to agree on things like content models and business rules. If you add Records Management into the fray it gets more convoluted.

Slide 4Historically, most of these 80% scale projects fail. Even when they “succeed”, they aren’t widely adopted and groups either revert to file shares, email, or start using the cloud vendor that you didn’t select in the first place.

With the cloud vendor, there are limited options to configure, and no servers, so you will be able to roll the solution out more quickly than the other solution. You already have users using the system so you have insight into the usability. Let’s say that there is a 90% chance that you will be able to deploy the goal of 30% functionality.

Adoption is Success

To measure success, we will measure adoption. If 98% of users using the proscribed Content Management System as their DEFAULT storage and 99% of all important content stored in the system, we have a successful project.

Keep in mind, projects that don’t get deployed due to project failure have a 0% adoption rate. Based upon that, your chance of success for the cloud vendor is 90% and only 20% for the traditional vendor.

Sure you can decrease the desired adoption rate to improve your success rate, but isn’t the whole point of an Enterprise-wide Content Management System that it captures all the content?

The Math

To calculate the end-result of a project, just take the features that are planned to be delivered and multiply that against the success rate.

  • Cloud: 30% * 90% = 27%
  • Traditional: 80% * 20% = 16%

If you take 100 projects, those that choose the cloud vendor will have almost 70% better overall Content Management than those that choose the traditional vendor. Even worse is this fact:

If People do not use a system, the system may as well not exist.

If I told you that you had a 90% chance of meeting 30% of your Content Management needs in the next three to six months or a 80% chance of none of your Content Management needs in the next year, which would you choose?

Play with the numbers all you like, but keep this in mind: If everyone uses the system, you capture all the content. If you have all the content, it is easier to retroactively tag and manage the content than it is when the content is stored EVERYWHERE.

As an industry we have two choices, either dramatically improve our usability and adoption OR wait for those cloud vendors to climb their way up to 80%.

I don’t know about you, but I’m not that patient.

One thought on “When is 30% Better Than 80%?

Comments are closed.