During a short-lived stint as a science major in college, I used to write my biology labs in the narrative format, rather than using the mandated department guidelines of appropriate lab-speak. I did this because I took pity on the teacher's assistant, who'd be grading report after report, and who may find my descriptive narration of Petri dishes and mold to be a welcome respite. Though the bio department was none too appreciative of my creative writing, narrative tendencies have proven effective in life outside the lab for helping explain how a website meets the needs of different users. Indeed, nothing paints a better picture than scenario-building to inspire a purchase.James Robertson agrees. As the managing director of Step Two Designs, an intranet and content management consultancy based in Sydney, Australia, James specializes in intranet strategy, web content management, information architecture and usability. He is also a big fan of using scenarios to help others understand how content management systems will be used by an organization. We all have a story to tell. A CMS does too. Its day in the life is demanding, and it is expected to fulfill many roles within an organization. A single CMS will be different things to different people. How to determine which one is best suited for your needs is dependent upon how it will ultimately be used. By creating scenarios, vendors have an innovative resource that makes it easier for customers to compare solutions, and will help to provide "a strong foundation for scoring the products against functional requirements." (Not to mention it can spice up an otherwise monotonous vendor demonstration.) Scenarios can also help employees envision incorporating a CMS into their everyday duties. If you don't have your team aboard the Goodship Content Management, chances are high that any implementation you choose is not going to work. But creating scenarios needn't be long or laborious. Robertson says scenarios are most effective "when they demonstrate the system in motion." A few tips: * Focus on common tasks for which the system will be used, as well as "tricky" areas that may be a bit more advanced. * Emphasize specific uses for certain functionalities. * Finally, write scenarios to "reflect the current realities within the organization," while acknowledging that the system is open to revisions and improvements. Ultimately, vendors will have a dynamic script and their prospective clients will have a better understanding about how to use their products. The very process of writing these scenarios will ensure that your vendors know the 'ins and outs' of the product. Their delivery will convey a level of confidence that resonates with customers and motivates employees. Don't be afraid to break out of the mold. Boring presentations are not engaging. Your CMS has a personality; don't let it get lost in the crowd.