You probably already know that a lot of your organisation’s informational content is being created, re-created, and re-worked by different people in different teams, probably in different locations and time zones as well. You’ll also be aware that a lot of duplication of effort is going on around you and that a large amount of the content you are seeing is itself being duplicated, resulting in multiple, inconsistent versions of important, even critical information.
Even worse, it’s quite likely to be the case that informational content is being developed and managed in different teams or departments completely independently and in isolation from each other. The content is stored in file and folder systems inside departmental or workgroup servers to which access by other groups or departments is restricted or barred. There is no collaboration between different departments producing and publishing the same or similar content. This is commonly referred to as the ‘silo effect’.
The end result? Poor customer value perception, unnecessary business inefficiency, low levels of staff productivity, and unnecessarily high levels of both direct and indirect costs. There is also an increasingly higher risk of legal or regulatory non-compliance.
If you have recognised the above then you have almost certainly worked out that your organisation badly needs a single source strategy (also known as a unified content strategy) to help resolve these deeply worrying problems. You’ll know that means centralising the development and distribution of informational content and bringing it under stricter control.
In this article, we outline the steps you need to take in order to plan and implement a single source/unified content strategy. There are three main activities involved in getting from early-stage problem definition to the point where you have a solution up and running in the business:
- Project inception: the current state analysis and research you need to carry out to ensure there is a business case and the justification to proceed
- Business plan development: the cold hard facts and figures you will need to gather together and communicate in order to win the funding required to go ahead operationally with the project
- Solution design and development: what you need to do in order to get from your detailed requirements to having a working solution being piloted and tested.
Where do you want to be… where are you now?
We recommend you start your research and analysis by first talking to your customers and asking them where they want to be and what they struggle with now.
Keep in mind your customers are everywhere in your supply and value chain. They can, for example, be:
- Members of the general public who are the purchasers and consumers or end users of your products.
- Employees of external fee paying customer organisations who have purchased your products and are also the end users of your products.
- Staff at partner and licensee organisations who collaborate in many different ways with your company and its products.
- Personnel working for third-party development or software engineering companies who, for example, extend or adapt your products for other markets or platforms.
- Your colleagues. Significantly, let’s not forget that your customers almost always include the employees of your own company.
Knowing where your customers want to be and where they are now makes it that much easier to understand and define where you want to be and what solution you will ultimately design and deploy. Or, to put it another way: by first understanding your customers’ requirements and their pain points, the task of defining your own requirements will be easier to do and you will do it faster and be more effective. You’ll develop your final, detailed set of requirements later, prior to starting the solution design and development stage of your project.
You’ll be looking to build a picture of where content is developed, managed and maintained, translated, and published; how and where (and by whom) that content is used (internally and externally); and how and when (if at all) content is being developed collaboratively; and much more.
The questions you’ll want answers to will include: