Content Entry System Design

We have been trying to avoid having to do all the design and architecture of the new content entry system ourselves since we are paying the outsourcing company to do it. However, we have had quite a few false starts, which I think could have been avoided if we had gotten together to explain things much earlier in the process.
The first week after we signed their proposal, they said they wanted to work on brainstorming by themselves.  We tried several times to be involved on some level because we felt it was important for them to understand how the Vignette system worked and how our Content Delivery Application (CDA) works because they will have to integrate with it.  They came to us at the end of the second week with a highly abstracted design, which had some pluses to it, but they thought all they had to deal with was articles, when in fact, we have about 30 different content types.  We had mentioned this to them several timeswhile they were writing the proposal, but somehow it didn’t completely sink in.

They decided to do some more braintorming and design sessions by themselves and again we offered assistance severral times.  They wanted a copy of our Oracle tables, so we exported them to a DVD so they could have their own install.  They came back at the end of the third week with a hybrid system which would use their system for content entry of items the editors deal with and the Vignette system for control of the websites themselves.  This might seem like a good solution for breaking the large project up into smaller pieces, but again, we had already told them that they could not integrate with the Vignette system tables – there is too much prioprietary code which inserts items all over the tables – and it would be a lot of work for the CDA to handle pulling some content from Vignette’s tables and some content from the content entry tables.  The database object layer would be a mess – plus we’d have to rewrite the CDA twice (or more) to handle the steps from the content entry project.

Finally, they sat down with our lead programmer (now the web systems manager) to really listen to how the Vignette system worked and how our CDA works.  After a couple of hour+ sessioins, we think they are finally on the right track.  They have a database layout that seems to be doing in the right direction, and now we are waiting for them to integrate versioning.
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