Introduction

The underlying power and versatility of CCM comes from its ability to let you reuse your content in multiple documents or websites. Simply put, CCM allows you to write something once, maintain or amend it in one place only, then reuse it anywhere and everywhere.

But before we look in more detail at the how this really works, it’s especially important to understand the key and crucial differences between document management (DM) solutions and CCM solutions.

A typical DM solution

DM solutions manage (and publish) company informational assets in the form of separate documents. When you need to change a document in a DM solution, you need to amend, review, approve and re-publish the whole document.

This type of solution best fits an organisation that creates and publishes standalone, static, documents, such as legal contracts, invoices, company records, and client data. In the case of product or services documentation (informational content that is often more dynamic and can change regularly), companies often make the mistake of going for a DM solution.

To elaborate: many companies continue to confuse the capabilities and benefits of a DM solution with the more powerful options that are now available for a much more productive and flexible way of building and delivering the information needed by all relevant parties in the business and developer ecosystem.

The rationale behind DM is simply that ‘if it exists as a document, and is available as a document, then the job is done’.

A typical CCM solution

CCM solutions work with informational content at a lower, more modular, level, in which a document’s constituent parts have been broken down into elements or components. These components are usually referred to as single source topics or modules. It’s this ability to manage and reuse content at a modular level that makes it so powerful.

For example, when you need to change or update a document, you only need to change or update those specific topics, press a button, and then all documents using those new or amended topics will instantly be updated and published, and, consequently, instantly available to the customer.

CCM solutions allow you to reuse those topics in clever ways, in different documents.

The ability to manage content at component level, rather than at document level, is of huge benefit to your organisation’s productivity and the customer value you deliver. It gives you the power, the flexibility (and the underlying data security, easily managed) to track and reuse content whenever you want, wherever you want – without copying and pasting and, importantly, without having to amend and re-publish multiple documents just because one thing changes.

If you have a CCM solution in place, you only need to change the topic or topics that change and then press a button so that the document is automatically updated. The CCM solution simply rebuilds and publishes the new document with the new or amended topics included. You cannot do this with a DM solution.

Let’s dig deeper here

So, let’s look in more detail at the power and versatility that CCM solutions can bring to an organisation and the value chain it purports to offer its customers and partners. Here are two typical scenarios:

1. For starters, let’s look at this from another angle: from the customer’s perspective

2. And how about companies producing product variants, with similar but also different informational assets to support those different product variants?

Here’s how we can do that with CCM. Only the needed information (or content) topics are assembled to fit (and as required by) each specific customer, depending on which product they have purchased and need to work with. It’s about delivering exactly what the customer (and its dedicated teams) truly need. No less, no more. Only just what they need. Naturally with the options to search for other information as and when they need it (that goes without saying, of course).

A typical case study

Let’s look at an example to illustrate what typically happens (and the problems that subsequently unfold) in many companies deploying DM technology solutions to manage and deliver informational content to their customers, employees, and to other partner organisations.

Because the company (let’s call it Company A) does not have a CCM solution deployed (maybe a DM solution is there, but maybe not), it ends up being in the unfortunate position of sending out four different versions of the truth.

Here’s an example of what can happen (and regularly does):

We see immediately that each of the four departments put together their own version of a product overview document, and delivered it to the customer. Result?The customer received four different variants of a document instead of a single version (as was naturally expected).

  • In parts, the content in all four versions was noticeably similar but, in other parts, the information was quite different, and in several cases it was clearly conflicting.
  • It was the same story across the board. For example, the list of features described in the marketing document totalled 13. The total in the TechComms user guide was 10, and the total in the training module only 8.
  • Additionally, the definitions contained in the different versions of the glossary varied wildly.

The customers were less than impressed, to say the least.

It’s not just Company A’s customers and partners that struggle with this state of affairs and begin to question the company’s professional credibility. It’s also the people working inside the company that are adversely affected (the ones that get tasked with doing the work).

More often than not, employees and consultants/contractors never really know whether the information they have to work with is accurate and up-to-date. It’s not their fault. It’s due to a ‘siloed mentality and organisation structure’ inside Company A (an organisational mindset that is very hard to change).

Companies that have different departments independently producing their own documentation and other informational content are often referred to as ‘siloed organisations’. In these companies, enterprise-wide collaboration is minimal and the re-use of information, apart from the traditional ‘cut and paste’ method, is practically non-existent.

For Company A, the end result is dangerous and worrying, to say the least. The costs and the risks are high, productivity is low, and money is going ‘down the drain’. That is a sad state of affairs that the executive board (or leadership team) needs to be very concerned about.

Summary

The arrival of powerful enterprise-strength CCMS solutions represented a paradigm shift for the technical communications and publications sector. At last, enterprises had the means to manage their key content assets as single source modules and to configure and reuse any combination of them easily into exactly the right information set as required by a given customer, for a specific task.

  • The major advantage of a CCMS solution is that it allows any module of information or content topic to be updated on-the-fly and published instantly, in real-time. The changes are reflected back automatically, wherever they are used, wherever they are published. There are many other advantages, not least from the perspective of data security and regulatory compliance.
  • In the ‘bad old days’, companies having to make changes to traditional documentation sets had to rebuild and republish every affected document separately. In the case of major changes or revisions, companies had to resort to printing errata lists (which were duly sent on to the customer) and plan those changes in for the next update and reprinting round.

It is only through CCM that the greatest cost savings and benefits can be achieved within your own organisation, across your supply chain and your partner ecosystem, and for your customers and employees. Here’s a brief summary of the CCM value proposition that supports and underlines that.

The CCM value proposition

The value proposition for component content management originates primarily from your ability to access all the information assets and intellectual capital locked up inside your organisation, unlock it, and reuse it for the ultimate benefit of everyone in the end to end (E2E) supply, delivery, and value chain.

The value proposition is usually derived from the potential benefits that can be achieved across four key categories:cost reduction, risk reduction, productivity improvement, and value creation.

In more general terms, it’s about using your information and knowledge assets to win customers, to win hearts and minds, and to secure long-term people productivity, business efficiency, cost savings, and security. It’s about gaining a bottom line advantage in a highly competitive world where every single dollar counts.

Wouldn’t it be great if it looked something like this?

And finally…

Why not contact us and let us help you understand the enormous benefits and cost savings that a CCM solution can bring to your organisation and your value chain? We’ll show you how that will also win the hearts and minds of your customers, improve customer experience (CX), developer experience (DX) and user experience (UX), and help you steal the march on your competitors.

The customer experience is the next competitive battleground

Jerry Gregoire, Former SVP and Chief Information Officer at Dell