Now Is the Time to Be Strategic With Content Management
Time is a luxury few of us have. We all have the best of intentions of being more strategic and not getting bogged down by tactical concerns. But unfortunately we rarely set aside the time to create a strategic approach that allows us to be proactive rather than reactive. This is especially true when we look at content management.
Over the past year, content management was very much a reactive effort. COVID-19 forced organizations to quickly shift to working digitally for everything. Email bridged the gap for a while, but its long-established flaws became apparent to everyone. Organizations hastily put in place content solutions, which were selected for their convenience, not their ideal fit. As it becomes apparent that we will never fully return to in-person work, it is time to take a strategic view of how you manage your content.
Why You Need a Strategic Approach to Content Management
As long as there have been digital systems, we've known how important it is to think strategically about content. Organizations that had taken the time to think strategically about their content prior to COVID handled the transition to remote work more smoothly. They knew the key lesson:
In the information age, investing in wisely managing your information, including content, is always a smart move.
Unfortunately, many organizations still treat their content as a byproduct of business. Until the ability to find, access, and share content is removed, or moved into email, staff do not understand the importance of properly managing content. The pandemic forced that understanding. But the urgency of fixing things forced a lot of tactical content solutions upon staff.
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What an Ideal CMS Selection Process Would Look Like
One byproduct of strategic thinking about content management content is tool selection. Organizations have been selecting enterprise content management systems for years. Think about the last time you selected your content management system (CMS). What would you have done differently if you had the luxury of time? With ample time, a selection process would involve:
- Capturing how content is currently used within your organization.
- Assessing how that content is currently managed.
- Describing how people would interact with content in an ideal world.
- Measuring the gap between the present and future.
- Identifying what processes and tools are required to get you there.
- Closing the gap one step at a time.
Organizations should look closely at the changes made due to COVID-19. How much of the gap could be closed if the systems had not been rushed into service?
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What About the New Tools?
Many organizations deployed a CMS last year to support the shift to full-time remote work. Some were lucky and selected a solution that was quickly adopted. For those that did not, how can they justify making another change so soon?
To help make that determination, ask your team, group and entire organization the following questions:
- Was there time to educate people on the need for the chosen system?
- Were information governance guidelines developed for the system?
- Did we provide adequate training?
- Do people currently agree on how to collaborate around content? For example, are some people using Microsoft Teams while others still use email?
- Did IT pick the CMS?
These types of issues existed in CMS deployments long before COVID-19. However, if organizations do not address the issues now, they will lead to abandoned systems. Now is the time to solve the problems, or if that's not possible, to begin looking for a permanent solution.
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Figuring out what to do is easy. Look at what you have. If you went back in time and chose a new CMS where time was not an issue, would you have chosen the current one in use? If not, why not? Before replacing it, see if the current system can close the needed usability gaps. Remember that addressing a hurried deployment’s flaws is easier than acquiring and deploying a new system.
Finally, I want to leave you with a professional tip to help decide what to do next: If your staff is collaborating on documents using email, it is time to think strategically about content and make a change.
About the Author
Laurence Hart is a director of consulting services at CGI Federal, with a focus on leading digital transformation efforts that drive his clients’ success. A proven leader in content management and information governance, Laurence has over two decades of experience solving the challenges organizations face as they implement and deploy information solutions.