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Communications Planning
8 minutes read

Shift to a modular system landscape for content management

“All-in-one” is how traditional software vendors tried to conceive and market their products. One product for all needs of a newsroom, editorial, or communications department. 

Huge monolithic systems with inadequate APIs were sold for huge sums. Now, that model is coming under severe pressure. 

Instead of one big system, content teams use various smaller tools, many of them coming from different vendors.  

There are several reasons for this shift: 

  • There are more digital platforms to publish to than 15 years or so ago. 
  • More and more digital formats such as podcasts require their own tools. 
  • Publishing digitally requires more than just a CMS. It would be best if you had analysis tools, personalization, etc. 
  • No vendor has proven capable of providing all or nearly all these tools to the market at adequate quality. 
  • Integrating tools has become significantly easier over time; often, it just takes a few clicks. 
Shifting from monolithic to modular systems

And this affected the architecture of a CMS as well. Traditionally a CMS would support both:

  • the text entry and editing, as well as 
  • the actual publishing of the content on the website, including the management of the site’s structure, layout, etc. 

With the rapid increase in the number of platforms, many of them such as Facebook, outside of the sphere of influence of a CMS, this model ran into trouble. 

As a result, we are witnessing the break-up of the CMS model into: 

  • a headless CMS (or Decoupled CMS) for entering and editing content for all kinds of platforms and 
  • the publishing platforms such as websites, newsletters, social media. 

New vendors such as Contentstack or Contentful and existing systems such as WordPress or Drupal try to position themselves in this ecosphere as well. 

This means the separation of the typical tasks of a CMS happens within the scope of an over-arching modularisation of the system landscape for content management. 

At the core is a headless CMS in conjunction with a Digital Asset Management tool (DAM) 

So what are the core elements of a modular system landscape around a headless CMS? 

Typically, the system landscape centers around the:  

  • headless CMS, 
  • a Digital Asset Management tool (DAM, or Media Asset Management – MAM) and the 
  • distribution platforms such as websites, newsletters, social media, etc. 
The system landscape of a Headless CSM

Where does a content calendar tool fit in? 

Structurally, a content calendar which is used to plan and coordinate content sits at the beginning of the content workflow.  

It defines what content gets created by whom. When or if an integration happens, and reflects when and where the content has been published. 

This can even be the case for non-scheduled content such as breaking news. They may not have been planned ahead in the content calendar but show up in its content lists nevertheless. 

The role of a content calendar in a Headless CMS

What tools should the content calendar be integrated with? 

Contrary to former times, providing an API with open documentation is a core element of vendors’ offering. Some even call their product approach, “API first.” 

This makes connecting tools a lot easier. 

However, as companies discover, sometimes setting up an integration is not worth the effort. Too high costs vs. low benefits. This is especially true when no out-of-the-box integration is available. 

Therefore a prioritization of integration tasks is needed.  

In our experience, we see three main integration strategies for a content calendar tool as part of a landscape with a headless CMS. 

  • Integration with the headless CMS 
  • Integration with the Digital Asset Management tool 
  • No integration 

Integration with the headless CMS 

This is the most straightforward integration. A piece of content is planned in the editorial calendar tool. This triggers the creation of a story entry in the CMS. 

Depending on the depth of the integration, data such as the description, slug, scheduled date and time, etc., are handed over. 

And the entries in the editor and the content calendar tool contain deep links to the entry in the other system. 

After the initial data transfer, changes on either side are then synced over to the other. One of the most important ones being the status change to Published once a story has been published. 

And while the idea of having _one_ central headless CMS for all platforms is at the core of a modular system landscape, in reality, there are always some platforms such as a newsletter tool or certain social media platforms that are not integrated. 

To publish content via those tools, users use the secondary editing tools that come with those platforms. A good editorial calendar integrates with those secondary editing tools as well. 

Integrating an editorial calendar with a Headless CMS

This can work the other way around as well. Not all content gets planned in a content calendar. Maybe it is breaking news, and maybe there are other reasons it was not entered into the content calendar.

No matter the reason, once it has been entered into or even published with the help of the headless CMS, the content calendar tool is notified about this story. 

This way, the content lists remain comprehensive, turning the editorial calendar tool into a sort of dashboard for the entire content management operations of a company. 

Integration with the Digital Asset Management tool 

Depending on how the content teams operate, it may make sense to integrate a content calendar with a DAM. 

The fundamental integration concept would be similar to the integration with a headless CMS. 

However, a specific focus is typically put on moving content that has been uploaded by freelancers to the planning tool to the DAM. Internal users would, however, continue to upload content via the headless CMS.  

In this scenario, external users would not need access to the headless CMS, which reduces security risks and reduces the number of paid licenses needed. 

No integration 

As it turns out often, an integration of the planning tool with the headless CMS is not needed. 

While it clearly makes sense to integrate, we at Desk-Net have noticed that many customers find out it works without an integration (almost) as well. 

The main reason is that the data sets, a calendar tool, and a headless CMS handle are somewhat different to quite a degree.  

While the content calendar may feature a description, assignments, and tags that are needed to assign a story to a company’s content strategy. A headless CMS in conjunction with a DAM focuses on the actual content, i.e., the copy, pictures, video files, etc. 

Want to see what tools Desk-Net integrates with? Check out our Integrations page