Organizational change, although deeply beneficial, is no easy task. One particularly daunting task is initiating an effective content management effort that will be embraced by their users. Organizations often want to change their content practices, make it more findable, less duplicative, and easier to understand, but they often fall short when setting out to make these changes. This blog will describe three important factors for an organization to consider in order to develop and implement effective and productive content management strategies: People, Content, and Technology.
The People factor is the one that is most important to first address in any content management effort, it involves the individuals and underlying culture that surround content management within an organization. People can include content creators, editors, and publishers, and culture can include the general attitudes and views that employees hold when creating and managing content. Common challenges our clients face when facing the People factor of content management include:
- People are overly reliant on technologies and content repositories to store their information and documents without considering user-centric design elements that are needed for the technology to work effectively;
- There are no defined roles, responsibilities, or processes in place for maintaining, organizing, and updating content.
- There are no systems of recognition or reward for those who make meaningful efforts to create and maintain content to encourage good behaviors and adherence to best practices; and
- The common cultural attitudes towards content are not recognized or seen as having an impact on the organization as a whole.
These challenges can make it difficult for organizations to keep their content up to date, applicable, and organized. It also means that employees rarely take the initiative to organize their own content as it isn’t promoted across all levels of the organization. In order to help alleviate these challenges, I often recommend the following:
- Promote the maintenance of content by clearly communicating the benefits to content creators, managers, and consumers;
- Provide staff with the opportunities and guidelines to integrate content and knowledge management into their daily tasks in order to ensure collective buy-in and active upkeep of content;
- Facilitate working sessions, meetings, and leverage other communication methods to help people recognize that content repositories are places to foster organizational learning and maintain institutional knowledge, even among colleagues that they don’t interact with on a day to day basis, not just giant folders in which to throw documents for storage purposes;
- Define roles and assign clear responsibilities to employees for creating and managing their content;
- Train employees so that they understand what they are expected to do to perform content management and how they can do it successfully; and
- Create a recognition system such as an easily accessible dashboard that shows who has updated content most recently. This can visualize the work people have done and encourage other users to participate, especially those who want to be recognized for the work they are doing within a new system to tag, upload, or share content, and need to know that their work contributes not only to their own success, but to the success of others.
It is important for organizations to provide their staff with better opportunities to manage their content and change their attitudes towards content management. For example, a principal revenue collection agency was facing challenges keeping their content up to date and easy to find, which resulted in staff frustrations and slow response times by call agents. EK helped to design a plan that helped to standardize the way information is captured and managed in SharePoint, as well as better provide staff with the training and abilities to maintain their old and newly created content which resulted in greater efficiency and decreased in time finding applicable content during high-pressure calls from citizens.
In order to implement proper content management, an organization must know the type of content that lives within all their KM systems, or within the systems they prioritize for change. The term “content” can apply to a wide array of information, and any knowledge that is written, stored, and readily accessed (such as knowledge articles, blogs, podcasts, presentations, etc). The content factor can feel the most daunting due to the following challenges:
- Organizations do not know what content exists, where it exists, or whether it is up to date;
- There are no content creation and editing processes and procedures in place, and if they do exist, staff are not trained or aware of the proper processes;
- There is no standardized approach as to which metadata needs to be completed to describe, structure, and manage content in a consistent manner; and
- Content management is not embedded in daily practices and is often seen as an extra task for employees, meaning it is consistently deprioritized.
Organizations need structures in place to maintain and govern their content. Without it, content enters the cycle of being created, duplicated, becoming outdated, and then remaining in the system in which it was originally placed. The following solutions can begin to address an organization’s content management challenges:
- Conduct an in-depth content inventory and analysis to identify and map the content critical to the organization. This analysis should be highly detailed and cover many areas of the organization and topics in order to give those on any content management initiative an accurate starting point. This can also lead to the prioritization of content that needs to be addressed first in following content management initiatives;
- Design and implement content types, which can lead to structural guidelines and easy content creation for employees, ensuring that content stays consistent.
- Designing and implementing a taxonomy, which can be used to tag content the same way throughout the enterprise and allow content to be more searchable and findable; and
- Create and socialize content governance guidelines that include processes for editing, uploading, and publishing content. These guidelines should include a process to check content on a regular basis for accuracy and consistency.
Conducting content analyses and inventory assessments are important to help organizations what they’ve got, what’s working, and what’s not. For instance, a leading Fortune 500 Company had an excess of outdated, siloed, and hard to find content, which put an increased burden on staff trying to find the content to do their jobs. EK performed a detailed and extensive content inventory across the organization’s main content repositories in order to assess their state of content. As a result of the content inventory, EK was able to provide the organization with short- and long-term actions they can take to mitigate the risk of duplicate and outdated content and ensure that staff have confidence that they are accessing the right content at the point of need.
The last piece to the effective implementation of content management is technology. Although technology can be the most appealing or tangible element of content management, it’s important to view it as an enabling factor rather than an end unto itself. Without the previously discussed foundations in place to support people, culture, and content, your organization will likely not realize the full benefit of new tools. Technology should enable and empower people to do their day to day work while ensuring they can seamlessly maintain their content and apply best practices, while avoiding common KM technology mistakes.
Organizations often face the following technology challenges:
- Different parts of the organization prefer different tools and systems, and there are no overarching guidelines in place for selecting and implementing new technologies;
- Technologies used by the organization are siloed and don’t interact with one another. If a change is made to content in one system, the same content housed in a different system remains unchanged;
- Employees don’t have a common or integrated content management system, so information is either siloed into limited access folders or stored on personal computers and file systems; and
- Employees use different technological tools on a day to day basis, but these tools are not integrated well with proper content management guidelines and practices.
Organizations should take an integrated approach to technology, investigating the dynamic ways in which they can integrate search, content management, metadata management, and a taxonomy, which will give them an extremely robust system and foundation upon which content can be built and accessed. Technologies enable content improvement and allow the cultural and content changes being implemented to be successful. The following solutions can help organizations successfully integrate technology with content management strategies:
- Consolidating systems or creating new avenues for information to flow between existing systems;
- Implement a “Headless” Content Management System (CMS) that is focused on the creation and accessibility of content despite the source platform;
- Integrating repositories with an enterprise search interface that makes finding content intuitive and user-friendly, helping overcome content silos;
- Define and apply usage metrics and other analytics, which can help provide constant feedback to content teams and help them learn ways to improve the accessibility and usability of content;
- Implement additional solutions that will integrate content repositories through a metadata hub that creates a “single source of truth” for all content and allows content to be surfaced and reused; and
- Designing artificial intelligence solutions based on ontologies and knowledge graphs to improve content findability and discoverability by enabling content recommendations, chatbots, and other advanced semantic features.
Integrating content management with new or existing technologies at organizations is an important step in the content management process. The learning team for an international retailer was struggling to search for, find, and deliver learning content to in-store associates due to not having a standardized taxonomy. EK partnered with the organization to assess the current state and define the target state of the retailer’s content management maturity, which ultimately resulted in a fully customized, iterative, task-based content management strategy, implementation roadmap, and KM systems architecture to help the learning team achieve their target state. The KM systems architecture design featured recommendations to leverage new and existing technologies including a metadata management hub, taxonomy management system, knowledge graph, and search engine. This plan results in greater technical capabilities and content management maturity for this organization and will rapidly improve their staff’s efficiency and their content’s findability.
The path to creating a robust technological environment for content varies depending on the organization, but the philosophy behind it should always remain the same: technology exists to amplify content efforts, provide structure and support processes, and help reinforce good content management behaviors.
If implemented right, an organization can expect to see the following outcomes from a content management initiative:
- Content becomes findable and the systems are easy to navigate;
- Out of date content is updated regularly or is removed until it can be updated, reviewed, and/or deleted;
- Employees know what the systems are used for and are confident in the accuracy of content and the information they find within the systems;
- Staff know their roles regarding content, and have a collective buy in to the benefits of proper content system management;
- Systems are integrated with one another, allowing for expanded accessibility and usability of content;
- Content is consolidated where it can be accessed by the people who need to access it, and content that is intended to be restricted access follows similar or even the same governance rules to maintain consistency across a system and ultimately the enterprise.
Understanding the changes that need to be made to the workstreams of People, Content, and Technology can allow an organization to work towards a more mature and robust content management environment. This will promote employee satisfaction, reduce time searching for content, and create a more effective and collaborative work environment at any organization. If you’re interested in starting on the path to more effective content management, implementing a content management system, or have questions, contact us at EK.