The Importance of Content Governance, Part I: Enhancing Content Governance By Involving the Right People

Content Governance is more than just rule-making. It is about coordinating efforts, creating opportunities, being responsive to the surroundings, acting decisively, and moving your team towards a common objective. When we talk about Governance this way, it sounds a lot like a game or a sport. With FIFA’s Women’s World Cup hosted by France this year, let us exemplify Content Governance teams with the beautiful game.

For those who are unfamiliar with the World Cup, each soccer team (or “football” team, if you are outside of the US) fields 11 players, and broadly speaking, each team is composed of a mix of attackers, defenders, midfielders, and a goalie. Ideally, a team brings together players that fit into their soccer philosophy (I.e. their approach to the sport, and the play style that defines their team), players whose skills complement their teammates’, and players who are willing to put their own interests aside in search for a larger objective: bring home the cup. 

Similarly, every effective content governance process requires a team. We can call it a Governance Council, a Governance Board, or whatever fits best with your organization’s language. No matter the name, this is the decision-making body that shapes content strategy and oversees content operations with a single objective: helping the organization’s knowledge workers achieve their goals through content. In this case,”bringing home the cup” may include helping a customer find the perfect gift for their loved one, providing the help-desk agent with some relief by maintaining an accurate and up-to-date self-service knowledge base, or making it easier for a new employee to navigate the organization’s HR bureaucracy.

The first key to better governance is choosing the right people to bring into the Governance Council. This involves ensuring that your key players possess diverse profiles and can bring a variety of skills and experiences to the table. In soccer, this diversity translates to wanting both offensive and defensive players: Perhaps strikers who are good at heading balls in from set plays, offensive midfielders who can dribble past defensive lines, wingers who can outpace any defender, a strong defender who can stop any offensive play, and finally a goalkeeper with cat-like reflexes. Similarly, for content governance purposes, we need a variety of members who can provide their expertise and advocate for their users’ needs. Having diverse voices on the Governance Council stops it from becoming an echo chamber, avoids groupthink, and lays the foundation for the rest of the governance work. So, who needs to be a part of this team?

We can categorize participants in two classes: Our business stakeholders and our core support group.

The core support group is composed of experts in diverse fields, such as communications, user experience (UX), search, and IT. As the name suggests, it is the core support group’s main task to support the content strategy – processes such as authoring, tagging, systems integration, searching, and defining workflows fall under their core responsibilities. These experts can talk to the capabilities and limitations of the organization’s systems and processes. 

The organizational stakeholders are representatives of units from around the organization whose interests lie in having good, quality content. Content enables them to achieve their objectives. This may be to engage with their target audience, it may heighten their visibility across the organization, or help their employees be more efficient in their jobs. It is important that organizational stakeholders have been empowered to make content-related decisions on behalf of the unit they represent. Moreover, it is important that they feel ownership over their section of the site, so that they can claim responsibility over the content and can be held accountable for keeping the site relevant, informative, and up-to-date. This responsibility and accountability provides additional leverage when requesting new features for the site because it signals a business need, and thus, establishes a direct relationship between decisions about the content platform and business benefits.

Finally, every team needs a good captain. Good captains set the tone for their team, they support their teammates, and they make sure that every member is doing their part to play according to the strategy to ultimately win the game. For Content Governance, the team captain is the Content Strategy Owner. The content strategy owner steers every individual’s efforts towards the vision and the goals that the organization is delivering through its content strategy.

A significant amount of the work that occurs within this governing body revolves around conversations. Conversations allow us to collectively make sense of the content needs and challenges, achieve a shared understanding of the work that needs to happen, and align our various priorities. The Content Strategy Owner ensures that the Governance Council is having the right conversations at the right times, with the right inputs. In Part 2 of this blog series, you will be able to learn what inputs your team will need to accomplish their goals.

Do you need help defining a content strategy and governance at your organization? Let’s continue the conversation. Contact us at [email protected] and tell us more.

Guillermo Galdamez Guillermo Galdamez Guillermo Galdamez is an information professional specializing in knowledge management, taxonomies, and enterprise search. He enjoys collaborating across organizational boundaries to deliver solutions that help clients meet their strategic objectives. More from Guillermo Galdamez »