Friday, February 18, 2005

CMS and Compliance Systems

There was an interesting thread on the CM Professionals mail list about the applicability of OS CMS for Policy and Procedures manuals. Apparently, this is an important enough issue that there is a group within CM Pros that wants to create an interest group on "Compliance Systems."

While much of the discussion was about special requirements that a P&P system has (access control, auditing content history, and who has read what) there was also disagreement over whether open source could be the platform for or could deliver such a system. The initial argument against was that this use of a CMS was so specialized it was doubtful that there would be enough interest within the OS community to support it. I find that hard to believe since the existence of the thread and the proposal for setting up an interest group is evidence of a common need. Also, the same argument could be made to disbelieve the existence of commercial products in this space - just substitute the word "market" for "community". That argument died out pretty quickly.

The second argument, which is even more interesting, is that you want to buy a commercial product so you have someone to sue if something goes wrong (such as a bug, I guess). This was made by the representative of a vendor. I wonder if the insurance companies know that their coverage is considered a primary benefit of their customers' product. There has been a lot of talk about lawsuits as a risk of using open source software: such as getting wrapped up in the SCO lawsuit. Some software companies offer indemnification for licensing violations. Now it seems we are jumping the legal shark by naming lawsuits as feature. I guess this means that the concern about support for open source (the old FUD factor) is dying down.