When winter weather makes commuting to Scriptorium’s NC office difficult, we work from home. We have set up a cloud-based infrastructure to support remote employees (hello, Bill Swallow!), and it works well for the rest of us during weather events and business travel.
Our work infrastructure reminded me that contingency plans are vital for a successful content strategy. Here are some tips for content strategy contingency plans.
Develop the basics first
For Scriptorium’s cloud-based infrastructure to work, team members need to have their laptops with them, electrical power, and Internet. Without those basics, any work based on technology won’t happen.
Your content strategy must also have a baseline from which to build. If your content is not accurate, does not address the audience correctly, and does not support overall business requirements, contingency plans should not be your priority: get the basics right, and then build your “what if…” plans.
Support all content contributors
Content consumers want helpful content served up in the format they prefer at the very time they need it. Let’s apply that logic to content creators, too. Your content development process should support all content contributors, regardless of the content creation tools they prefer.
The authoring tools that content professionals use in marcom and techcomm, for example, may not be a good fit for part-time contributors in support and product development. Can your content process support different content creation tools?
Also, some departments, such as sales, travel a lot. Systems must enable remote access if those teams are to easily contribute and review content. There are some industries that have security requirements that prevent remote access by anyone. That said, at some companies, lack of remote access is as much or more about dated tools and processes.
As content reuse becomes prevalent across departments, your content strategy must accommodate content contributions from everyone.
Anticipate future content format types
Look at how content consumption has evolved, especially over the last 20 years: print, PDF, web pages, ebooks, video, apps, chatbots. What’s going to happen next? We can make educated guesses about the next content format requirements, but no one can say for sure.
If your content strategy is based on tools that are strong in creating particular content formats, what happens when that format is no longer in demand? Can you count on your tool vendor to adapt to new formats, and to do so well?
A better plan is to create content in a vendor-neutral, extensible format: yep, XML. It is generally easier to transform XML source into a content format than to convert a proprietary tool format into something else. Yes, XML-based content workflows are a great overall contingency plan because they can better accommodate the latest content format types consumers demand.
Be ready for corporate changes
What happens if your corporate identity changes (logos, taglines, colors, and so on)? If updating corporate look-and-feel in content formats will require a lot of manual rework, you are doing it wrong. The expense of manual updates is significant, so a better plan is to adopt a content strategy that enables you to automate swapping out of corporate identity. Again, a more flexible workflow based on XML is ideal to efficiently handle rebranding changes.
If your organization has a culture of mergers and acquisitions, it is far better to invest in a content strategy that handles such changes with automation instead of bearing the cost of manual updating every time.
In summary, a flexible infrastructure for your content strategy is the key to anticipating and mitigating changes, whether they are in content format, corporate identity, or other factors. How else can organizations handle content strategy contingency plans?
And stay tuned for when hurricane preparedness becomes part of our contingency planning at Scriptorium later this year!