Unifying content to support enterprise content strategy
Enterprise content strategy means including all customer-facing content in your planning. Our enterprise content strategy maturity model provides requirements for that strategy. This article focuses on content integration. How do you unify content across disparate content teams and technology stacks?
In theory, you can execute enterprise content strategy without changing your organization’s structure or workflows. You must ensure that each group has the same style guidelines and then build out publishing pipelines for each group that deliver consistent user experience.
In practice, though, consolidation is sensible for efficiency and long-term maintenance. You have several options to consider:
- Developing an enterprise content model that covers all content
- Reducing the number of silos by merging some content workflows
- Connecting content across silos
- Aligning some components of content models across departments
Enterprise content model
An enterprise content model provides support for multiple content types. It might include technical content, knowledge/support content, training support, and more. Creating an overarching model requires the organization to manage content and develop governance models at the enterprise level.
Building out an enterprise content model requires close collaboration among multiple stakeholders across the organization. That, in turn, requires executive sponsorship to ensure that the project is supported properly.
Consider starting with a smaller pilot project before attempting the enterprise content model. Most organizations need to establish goodwill and have contributors build social capital across the enterprise to ensure success. Building that level of collaboration, communication, and trust takes time.
Many or most organizations are completely siloed. A typical enterprise might have a learning management system (LMS) for training content and a component content management system (CCMS) for product content. The two systems are entirely incompatible and disconnected. To move content from one system to another, the best and only option is to copy and paste.
The enterprise content model has the potential to address this problem, but it has major implications, including the following:
- Tools: Your tools must be able to support the enterprise model. If you have a tool that uses a proprietary or fixed content model, that may be a show-stopper.
- Corporate culture: Each part of the organization must be willing to compromise on content requirements to help create the enterprise model. If you do not have a culture of collaboration across departments, this effort is likely to stall on corporate infighting. Consider some smaller low-risk pilot projects to start to build confidence before you go after the big prize.
- Resources: You will need sufficient resources (internal or external) to support the development effort.
If an enterprise content model looks like too big an effort, read on for some other options.
Merging content workflows
Consider whether you can reduce the number of content platforms in use across the enterprise. You might, for example, merge the tech support (knowledge base), learning/training, and technical content groups onto a single platform. Or perhaps the software product content (UX strings, usually) could be integrated with the user documentation?
If you can get multiple groups to use the same toolchain, it becomes much easier to keep their content in alignment.
Also consider your localization workflows. Are they using common terminology databases, translation memory, and so on?
As an alternative to shifting platforms, take a look at whether and how you could connect the silos. Perhaps your technical content could be pushed into the learning platform on a regular basis. Or maybe you can establish a process that lets you use knowledge base content in technical content.
Connecting silos can improve collaboration without requiring major changes from any of the content creators.
Aligning content models
Aligning content models provides you with another less risky option. You can assess the various content models and identify places where information can or should overlap. Metadata is often a good place to start—if your organization has a set of products, you probably have metadata in each division that lets you classify information by product.
As a first step toward content integration, you can bring the product labels into alignment. If changing the values to make them consistent is too painful, consider a mapping table that documents how one department’s labels map to the other.
Toward enterprise content strategy
Our enterprise content strategy maturity model envisions a customer-centric future, where the customer experience is prioritized and the back-end systems integrate transparently. But the transition toward that state can begin with smaller and relatively less intimidating efforts.
Wondering if your organization is ready to tackle enterprise content strategy? Contact us and we’ll be happy to discuss.