Content Management: Resourcing for It.


What is content management? Wikipedia defines content management (cm) as “a set of processes and technologies that supports the collection, managing, and publishing of information in any form or medium. When stored and accessed via computers, this information may be more specifically referred to as digital content, or simply as content.

Over my 20+ years in numerous business industries consisting of Mortgage/Finance,  Aerospace/Defense, Semiconductors, and Market Research, I haven’t seen “content management” fully accepted and implemented. Even while working as part of the initial knowledge management teams rolling out SharePoint CMS to U.S. Navy Special Warfare  commands, troops (aka 'warfighters') were still desiring and using their email and shared drive folders as the primary management tools for their content (e.g., folder within a folder, within a folder, etc.) It wasn’t until a directive from high-up within the command hierarchy that KM principles and methodologies took hold.

One of the main reasons I've found as to why people had difficulty accepting the idea of content management was because they simply didn’t want to learn a new technology (content management is driven by efficient cloud technologies that comprise what is called a CMS (Content Management System). It is somewhat understandable since most employees don’t like change in their work processes and to learn a new technology requires you to change your ways. However, utilizing content management isn't just about learning new technology; the fundamental core aspect is about incorporating efficiency.

Some core features of content management are file taxonomy, automated workflows, enhanced search capability, and enhanced UI/UX (User Interface/User Experience). Simply digitizing content and storing it in an electronic repository doesn't necessarily make a good Content Management System (CMS). As I mentioned previously, people like storing their content in shared network drives. A shared drive is a rudimentary content management system, but it lacks the before mentioned core features that save time and money.

Let’s dig deeper into what “content” actually is. Content can be any digital file type (photos, videos, documents, slide decks, etc.). “File” is a broad term to describe digital content. You can have a video file, image file, or document file. Regarding documents, document management is a subset of content management, which deals solely with documents. Documents tend to be more controlled, since they usually comprise authoritative processes, procedures, and work instructions. They normally require approval before new versions can be published, thus having a robust CMS that offers out-of-the-box, no-code, approval workflows is essential.

When I was employed at a semiconductor company, I was an ISO internal auditor; ensuring departments were following their processes as set forth by the latest approved release. We had a document control representative who controlled the official document repository. She ensured that the latest processes were made available to all employees and that the old versions were archived. This was also a fail-safe measure to guarantee old versions were not being utilized.

Getting back to what I originally was talking about, as it pertained to content management not being fully implemented. There are other underlying reasons for two people not wanting to learn new technologies. It has to deal with people not wanting any more processes thrown at them. Now I agree that too many processes can inhibit efficiency. A well-structured set of procedures and processes is like a well-oiled machine, everything working with each other and working in sync with each other.

If a company doesn't have a complicated set of processes that prolong a product or service from being produced, then an employee who is hesitant from learning a new technology, such as a CMS is essentially saying, “I don't want to learn new technologies because I’m just lazy.” We must always push ourselves to learn and innovate, which enables the growth of the company!

Now that we have described and talked about content management, the next question to be asked is: What does it take to manage a CMS? Depending on how many files, documents, etc., are being uploaded daily, as well as the controllability of such files, predicates how the CMS is to be managed. There are many companies employing full-time content management specialists to manage and sustain all of the company's files, but those are extremely large companies with thousands of employees. If a company has less than 500 employees (constituting a small business) then there really shouldn't be much upkeep. The main success factor here is training department heads and first-line managers to manage their libraries and set policies for their direct reports to follow procedures of where files are to be uploaded. Additionally, each file should have a specific naming convention that is adhered to. This can be achieved within one workday’s worth of training and procedure reference sheets (aka work instructions) that can be readily available for employees to view.

I have witnessed in the past, several content managers doing a great job when they need to organize the content libraries. I have also, however; personally executed and implemented processes and procedures, which set forth the before-mentioned collateral-task empowerment of department heads and first-line managers, which in result, didn’t require a dedicated content management specialist or site content manager (SCM) job position.

As a final option in sustaining content management, the use of outsourced contractors is prudent. This saves time and money because these third-party specialists are contracted at regular intervals (say weekly) to conduct “clean-up” tasks, all the while collaborating with the content owners or stakeholders. So, instead of having a person be employed to sit at his/her desk and wait until clean-up is required, contractors step in and are paid per task-hour. A company is then paying for results.