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Agile Content Teams Part 2: Roles

Agile practices can empower your content teams and maximize the value of their time. In part 1 of this two-part blog series, we discussed content team implementation of agile ceremonies. Now, in part 2, we follow up with a discussion of traditional Scrum roles and how they can be applied to content teams.

Agile Content Team Roles

We’ve heard the agile values before: “Individuals and interactions over processes and tools.” Since agile is known for putting people at the center, the roles to which people are assigned are of great importance. Scrum teams (the most common type of agile team) generally have three key roles: Product Owner, ScrumMaster, and team member. Here’s how we at EK have seen those roles have play out on agile content teams.

Product Owner

The product owner is a high-level sponsor with the strategic vision for the content. This might be a program manager (if content is about the specific program) or a technical product owner (if all content is to be published on one platform).

As with any agile team, product owners have the final say about what content tasks are added to the product backlog and prioritization of content tasks.

ScrumMaster

On a content team, the role of the ScrumMaster overlaps with the role of the editor. The ScrumMaster/editor is a facilitator for the content team, ensuring team members have access to everything they need to do their job well, including editorial standards, style guides, and accessibility requirements. This person also removes roadblocks for team members.  Roadblocks which might be experienced by content teams include:

  • Technical roadblocks: I can’t upload this content because of a bug in the system.
  • Political roadblocks: I can’t get administrative approval to publish this news post about a sensitive topic.
  • Resource roadblocks: I can’t publish this video until a subject matter expert has reviewed it.

Content Team

It is absolutely necessary for a content team to be cross-functional. There are so many diverse skills necessary to create quality content that it’s almost impossible to meet publication deadlines or ensure completion of tasks in a sprint if those diverse skillsets are not represented on the content team. The skills essential to your cross-functional content team will depend upon the type of content which you produce, but a few common skills are:

  • Writing and editing
  • Graphic design
  • Technical CMS skills
  • Video production
  • Knowledge about how to create accessible (508 compliant) content

While not always possible, it is very helpful to have a subject matter expert on the content team as well.

Workflow and Content Approval

The topic of roles in regards to a content team naturally dovetails with discussions of workflow and approvals. While the particulars of the content approval and publication workflow will vary from system to system, a general rule of thumb for agile content teams is as follows:

  • Content Team members create and edit content. They may work independently or collaboratively on individual content tasks, but they generally do not have publishing authority – they will submit content for review.
  • ScrumMasters/editors review any content in a “For Review” status. ScrumMasters/editors review content for alignment with editorial standards, style guides, and accessibility requirements.
  • Product Owners conduct a final review of content to ensure it meets business requirements. Product Owners may need to enlist a subject matter expert to co-review content. It is often Product Owners to publish content within the system.

Conclusion

It is really common to adopt agile principles with development teams, but these values and practices can enhance additional processes – including your content production. Would you like to discuss how agile can revitalize your content strategy? EK can help.

Rebecca Wyatt Rebecca Wyatt Skilled trainer, content strategist, and project manager who is focused on empowering teams and maximizing learning. Rebecca is a self-described "learning addict" who is at her best collaborating with and inspiring teams to greater success. More from Rebecca Wyatt »