How Scriptorium optimizes content to transform your business
It started with a layoff.
Scriptorium, that is.
Who is Scriptorium?
The year was 1996. Scriptorium CEO Sarah O’Keefe and COO Alan Pringle were working for a software company that experienced explosive growth — from 80 to 500 people in 18 months. Then, their employer was acquired, along with several other companies.
What could go wrong?
In the aftermath of the acquisition, many team members, including Sarah and Alan, were laid off. As Sarah puts it, “we were all a little cranky about it.”I decided that if executives were going to make dumb decisions, I could be the executive making dumb decisions. Basically I was angry, and here we are 26 years later!
I decided that if executives were going to make dumb decisions, I could be the executive making dumb decisions. Basically I was angry, and here we are 26 years later!
The large number of layoffs meant colleagues were dispersed to numerous new companies. However, after what started as an unfortunate transition, Sarah and Alan discovered a business opportunity.
What does Scriptorium do?
We exist at the intersection where content, technology, and publishing processes meet.
The question that drives us is, How do we take “necessary evil” content and transform it into a future-proof asset?
Or more simply, How can we make the most out of the investment that you’ve already made in your content?
We apply cutting-edge technology to content to automate development, delivery, and publishing across multiple channels.
Content strategy is an overloaded term. So, what do we mean by that? For Scriptorium, content strategy is the overarching plan to manage information across its entire lifecycle.
We start our projects with an analysis of your business needs, review the problems you’ve already identified, and uncover gaps and opportunities in your content and business operations.
Our content strategy analysis covers questions such as:
- Where are you now? What are you trying to achieve?
- What’s working? What isn’t working?
- Where are your pain points?
Why content strategy?
Let’s say your instructional designers have to edit dozens of files to update a basic procedure (for example, “How to log in”) that’s included in multiple courses. (Sadly, this is common.)
Or, you’re missing out on the opportunity to provide content to people in their local language, because your current localization strategy doesn’t scale.
Or, maybe you have problems with people calling tech support with basic questions that are (or should be) in your documentation. But, since the content is unavailable or inaccessible, they’re making an expensive phone call on your dime to get their answers.
These issues all stem from content strategy problems — and we’ve just scratched the surface! Let’s dive deep into the typical pain points Scriptorium is called to solve.
Scalability is the #1 pain point causing businesses to reach out to us.
Companies contact us because they can’t scale their content process. Maybe they’re being asked to publish more formats or translate content into more languages. Maybe they need more content variants because their products are complex or require customer-specific information. The requirement for “more” is impossible in their current workflow, so it’s time to assess and improve content operations.
Here at Scriptorium, we often see situations where an organization uses multiple incompatible content creation systems. Sharing information across systems looks like some sort of terrible copy, then paste, then reformat operation. That works for an occasional paragraph, but it’s completely unsustainable as the volume increases.
Does this sound familiar? We know our content process isn’t great, but it worked okay because we only had to deliver in five languages. Now, we’ve been told we’re expanding into the European Union and we need to translate and localize our content for 30 languages. There’s no way we can do this!
Content is expensive to develop, manage, and translate. It’s wasteful to have multiple copies of the same content, and it’s especially problematic when those copies contradict each other. But, in the daily business slog, these inefficiencies happen all the time, actively draining a company’s resources, and aren’t resolved until they create major operational problems. Conflicting copies of content make it difficult — actually, impossible — to localize your content in a sustainable, cost-effective way.
Conflicting copies of content make it difficult — actually, impossible — to localize your content in a sustainable, cost-effective way.
Any inefficiency in sharing content is multiplied for each language. Eight hours of manual reformatting doesn’t sound too bad, but that’s just English. If you are delivering in 20 languages, eight hours per language is suddenly 160 hours. That’s a full month of someone’s time!
On the flip side, companies gain productivity when companies like Scriptorium clean up their content integration and provide a single source of truth. Imagine having your e-learning or training groups set up to source content from technical documents, which can also flow over and link to your marketing content.
Mergers and acquisitions
Back to the lovely depiction of a seamless merger. Let’s say three companies merge, each with their own content system and inefficiencies. Customers don’t care that the companies merged! They just want the ability to access the products and services as usual, while the merged companies attempt to function with multiple content creation systems that just won’t integrate.
Customers don’t care that the companies merged. They just want the ability to access the products and services as usual, while the merged companies attempt to function with multiple content creation systems that just won’t integrate.
As additional mergers happen over the years, more systems are added to the mix. Companies like Scriptorium are only brought in after the buildup of content inefficiencies (also known as “technical debt,” “content rot,” or “just plain gross”) accumulates to an unmanageable level and becomes an obstacle to business operations.
A solid content strategy effectively orchestrates how you create, edit, review, approve, and distribute content. It also determines how you organize and support the people, processes, and technology to fulfill your business priorities.
At Scriptorium, our concept of content operations is straightforward. Content operations (or content ops) are the people, processes and technology you use to generate content. Therefore, every business that creates content has content operations. However, just because you have content ops doesn’t mean those operations are meeting your business needs. That’s where Scriptorium steps in.
However, just because you have content ops doesn’t mean those operations are meeting your business needs. That’s where Scriptorium steps in.
After creating your content strategy, the next step in our process is to use that strategy to transform your content operations into a well-oiled machine for curating a unified content experience for your customers.
Given proper investment, your content can be an asset that you can leverage as you scale and globalize your business. But if your content can’t be produced, distributed, and accessed sustainably, you won’t see those benefits. Content operations is the engine that determines how fast your content train can go.
Most of our clients need structured content. Here’s what this looks like:
A company decides they need to improve the maturity of their content development processes. They currently use Word to create and revise content. Both their content and their content processes are unstructured. When large projects or problems arise, it’s crunch time. Projects are a nightmare, and scalability is impossible.
Instead, structured content allows the Scriptorium team to design and build out a system that’s more efficient by leveraging reuse, formatting automation, and more. Content developers can focus on producing better content instead of formatting, reformatting, and reformatting their content to fix broken tables and strange auto-numbering problems.
How structured content boosts your ROI
Well-structured content can give you massive returns on your investment. But structured content exists in an ecosystem. You need strategy, structure, and the successful implementation of both to avoid systems incompatibility that produces duplication and redundancy (see what I did there?), and blocks your content from flowing seamlessly throughout your organization.
If you’re looking into those problems in your own business, check out our XML ROI calculator to get an idea of the impact structured content could have on your content operations.
Now it’s time to put all this together by moving into the implementation phase. This is the process of actually building out and configuring the technology for your content operations that we’ve outlined in your content strategy.
Because each content strategy is tailored to a specific situation, implementation looks different for everyone. However, here are some of the common phases that the implementation stage can cover:
- Select and configure a component content management system (CCMS).
- Convert content to its recommended format (very often structured content instead of word processor files).
- Import the content into the CCMS.
- Configure publishing outputs.
- Ensure that staff are trained as we move them into the system so that authors, content contributions, reviewers, and other stakeholders can make a successful transition.
- Go to production!
Fun fact: the Scriptorium team doesn’t have to be the ones to implement your solution, and in some cases, we aren’t. Sometimes clients find other vendors to implement our content strategy. Sometimes it’s more practical to move forward in-house with qualified team members, and we support that approach. (And we have training for that!)
Our metric of success is when your content operations have the right tools, resources, and partnerships so that you can manage your content throughout its entire lifecycle, and you are prepared for future requirements.
We promise you this: Based on our decades of experience, we will provide candid, useful, and, above all, practical recommendations for how to organize, develop, and manage your content so that you can maximize the return on your content investment.
Scriptorium services, not software
A key point we want to emphasize regarding our scope is we are a pure services company. We do not sell or resell commercial software, and we don’t accept referral fees from software vendors.
We believe it is inappropriate for a consulting company to accept referral fees or provide resale services — it’s a conflict of interest. We encourage you to ask all of your vendors about their financial relationship with software providers. When we recommend a particular software, resource, or company, it’s based on your unique business needs.
What’s it like to work with Scriptorium?
Fantastic, of course! There are never any issues or hiccups, so everyone reading this should contact us immediately.
In all seriousness, the process we’ve outlined often takes months or years to complete from strategy to implementation, so we’re intentional about building strong relationships with our clients. Additionally, our team members have been with us for a long time. Most have been here for years, and some have been on the team for decades.
Often, clients come to us with an issue in one area (let’s say technical or product content), and we’re able to enable cross-functionality for their content across multiple data sources (such as marketing, learning, or knowledge bases). We can use new approaches, like Content as a Service (CaaS), to connect your various content systems.
Many of our clients stay with us for years, and increasingly, they opt to have us maintain the systems we created for them. Others come back when more support is needed, or ask us to train their in-house team, so that they can manage them independently.
And while we’d love to be part of every project, if there’s a project or problem where Scriptorium wouldn’t be the best fit, we will tell you and do our best to find a better option for you.
When is it time to contact Scriptorium?
When it becomes apparent that your organization’s current approach to content is not sustainable, it’s time to take a look at whether content strategy, improved systems, and a strategic content lifecycle can get you where you need to be.
Companies typically call us when they reach a breaking point. Though we can definitely get you back on track, you don’t have to wait until then. Our advice? Don’t let “good enough” be enough, because “good enough” turns into “not good enough,” quickly devolving into “we need help, NOW.”
By optimizing your content assets before major problems arise, you save time, resources, and create revenue-generating opportunities.
If you’re ready to get started, contact our team at [email protected], or fill out the contact form below.
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