Tag Archives: Content Management

CM Start

In a recent talk on starting/brainstorming a content management plan, I suggested that people start small. That’s nice, but, then I went on to another bit of the talk. After the talk, I ran into a Washington librarian getting started on a CM program. I had seen him in the session and thought for sure he would ask a question, but he didn’t. I was glad I ran into him, because he told me what his library was doing and said he didn’t know how to start.

Content Management can be big and scary. Yes, you have to define what it means to your organization, but that doesn’t mean you can’t start with some small steps.

How to start:

The easiest thing to do is look at your events calendar. No matter what kind of library-or organization- you work in, events will be happening.

Pick out a couple of events

Create bibliographies of resources that support the event. Include town council  or management reports, videos, podcasts, websites, audiobooks in addition to the print and eBook materials that will surely find their way to your list. Do not segregate by format. If you segregate by format you are missing the point of CM.

Make sure your logo as well as suggestion to “Ask the Librarian for More Resources” and your phone number is on the sheet and pass it out at the next event.

Evolve that to a web page. If you can do it before the event, great. If not, put it up after the event. If you can’t make a webpage, scan it to PDF and create a catalog record.

You have made a good start. What’s next?

Internet Librarian 2018

I was selected to give a talk at Internet Librarian in Monterey again this year, so I went for a quick trip. My session was called Brainstorming Content Management Plans and I talked a lot about what I have discussed on this blog regarding content management.

Somehow my slides did not make it to the speaker site, so I am posting a pdf version here. I’ll also post the slides to Slideshare, if that is more convenient for you.

I was pleased to see a post about my session on another site. Shockingly fast reporting. The reporting is good, but do look at my slides and call if you need a consultation.

The wonderful Doris Helfer was the moderator and she did a great job. I also got a tip about continuing education courses held at Oxford University. I’ll have to put one of those on my list.

Content Management – Systems

As I have tried to make clear in other parts of this series, content management plans have many components and installing a new system, or repurposing an existing system, is only one part. However, systems must be taken into account, because in conjunction with all the other aspects, a well managed and effective system can be a cost effective piece of the content management puzzle. It is important to remember that a new system cannot solve all content management problems.

One of the first tasks, after the company decides to create a content management plan, it is important to review all systems and tools currently in place.

It is important to perform a complete inventory of all systems, software, web applications, etc that have a content management component.

  • Review each system’s perceived strengths and weaknesses
  • Determine who is using each system
  • Identify how systems are being used including hacks and tweaks that have been made
  • Determine overlaps between various systems
  • Identify silos
  • Determine combined cost of systems, including maintenance fees
  • If possible, determine WHY each system is being used

The WHY can be tricky. Systems may be used because that is what was available when a department was formed. Software can be used because that is how an employee was trained. Newer systems might be used because an employee’s boss got a new boss and the new boss likes that system. Systems are chosen because they came up first in a list of search results.

The WHY is when it becomes important to meet with people

  • Survey users – it may be important to target specific users if a tool is specific to a certain department or group
    • ask about current systems
    • try to discover ‘wish list’ systems or functionality
    • find out if employees used software in a different way
    • Ask about information
      • what is stored
      • how it is used
      • when they have problems accessing their own data as well as cross departmental data
      • what external information is being purchased and how is it being used?
      • Survey users again after some changes have been made or a content management plan has started to develop
  • Attend conferences
    • talk to colleagues about what they are using
    • walk the vendor halls and find out what is new and exciting
    • listen to seminar speakers to glean information about creative ways they are using products
  • Talk to vendor-partners
    • are there updates that have not been installed?
    • is the system still being supported?
    • does the company have a current maintenance agreement?
    • who is the regular sales/support rep?
    • are there modules or add-ons that might make the system more user friendly, effective, customizable?
    • do vendor-partners have special offers which can be taken advantage of over time?
    • is training available?

It is important to find out if vendors of entrenched tools can make changes to make products work in a way that furthers the goals of the company. It is also important to find out if they are willing to work to improve their product as you work through your content management challenges. Willing vendor-partners can be the difference in a choice of product. Vendors are partners. They, of course, want to sell their products, but they also want to keep existing clients. It is possible to work with them to adjust tools to meet new needs.

Stakeholders can be the best and the worst when it comes to content management systems. Their friends are higher ups in other companies and they want to support their friends and keep up with the Joneses. Thus, it is important to review new systems in which stakeholders are interested.

  • How do they work with existing silos?
  • Are new systems compatible with existing silos?
  • Are new systems duplicative? How?

Next, a critical step is to identify where content is cross departmental and access is needed by groups with otherwise different functions. This often happens with some financial data. For example, department heads need access to expenditures when compiling their budgets.

  • Where is it important to have information gatekeepers
  • Gatekeepers vs. Content managers

Taxonomies can be an important tool for a company. Review whether or not there are any existing internal taxonomies in use. Next determine whether a department or group has purchased a commercial taxonomy. Taxonomies can be an expensive tool, because of the care and feeding they need. Taxonomies must to be maintained and updated. If they are not being used effectively, training may be required.

  • Consider usage and how well the taxonomies are functioning. Are people adding metadata from existing taxonomies to documents they create and save?
  • Can metadata be searched?
  • How flexible are metadata? Can an employee add any term or are they compelled to choose from the taxonomy?
  • Is someone culling non-standard terms and adding them to the taxonomy or replacing terms with standard terms?

If the company has a well functioning and well maintained taxonomy, consider using taxonomy terms to create a navigation bar on the Intranet, extranet or in other appropriate locations

Data and information owned and created by company employees must also be reviewed.

  • Are tools available already to automatically identify content with certain qualities?
  • Is there a program anywhere in the company to archive previous versions of documents/information?
  • How much stale content must be reviewed and archived?
  • Does saving a document allow employees to create content expiration dates?
  • What does the Enterprise Content Manager want to do about content without metadata?
  • What does the Enterprise Content Manager want to do about content with incomplete or inaccurate metadata?

A potential big problem is content owners leaving the company before a suitable content transition can be created. It is important to immediately reassign content ownership or archive data. This is drastic, however. Try to create a content transition plan and have the new and old owners work through it together.

Finally, products must be discussed. If none of the products you have inventoried are right, or you need an overarching product to place other products under, try to choose a product that is as right as it can be. Understand that no product will be perfect. In addition to “standard” tech products (products popular in technology companies), look to the library world as well. Librarians have been organizing information for years. They have products which can be adapted to your company as well. A couple are:

  • Koha
  • Inmagic/Lucidea Presto

Very popular tech products are:

  • Igloo
  • Jive
  • Drupal
  • some installations of WordPress
  • Drupal

Of course we all know and love 😉 Sharepoint. There are many others. Review and try many to find the one(s) that work for you. Talk to friends and colleagues about their experience using various products.

Information and/or content are valuable company assets. The overall goal of the all pieces of the content management plan I have discussed is to create a coherent set of processes and procedures to make content, data and information secure, findable and useful. Without organization, the content is more difficult to use. Different solutions may be required for different departments or groups. Everyone  has a stake and needs to be involved.

Content Management – Culture

Culture is one of the most important aspects to take into consideration when developing a content management plan. It is also important to note inefficient processes or practices that need improvement. The key is to be respectful of organizational culture and to disrupt workflow as little as possible.

It is also important to realize that change will have to happen in order to implement a content management plan. I like to make changes that mimic a whisper rather than a bulldozer.

Ideas for influencing change:

·        Start to influence culture by creating a new employee appealing looking desktop view with links to valuable information and to spaces where they can easily save their content. Spaces should first, be segregated by department and function, but also by personal and professional. This desktop view should be available and waiting for them on their first day after orientation. Some content to include is:

  • HR content such as forms and policies
  • Department content needed to do their job
  • Orientation schedules
  • Information, maps and connections to co-workers
  • Mentor information
  • Bios of department managers, C-Suite
  • Basic information about the company
  • Maps
  • Resources such as where to go for more information or who to talk to for help

Creating a new employee desktop will start the process of tweaking the content management culture. Ideally, existing employees will see that new employees have a great content space and want one as well. Managers may want to roll something out to all on their teams. This is a small piece of the process.

Develop features and functionality, which make tasks such as metadata application more automated

  • Button on save page that automatically adds department name to metadata

Consider how content in languages other than English may be affecting search and retrieval

  • Does the organization have a policy about creating company content in different languages?
    • how much content is in different languages?
  • Effect on those creating content in non-English language in terms of search and retrieval
    • how does search engine function in non-English languages, in non-Roman alphabets?
  • Effect of non-English content on those searching in English in terms of search and retrieval
  • Consider primary language for metadata and taxonomy
    • is there a need for parallel metadata and taxonomies to accommodate different languages?

Culture develops as a result of the formation of a company, but also independently as the company grows. Different departments can have different traditions and practices around work and personal activities. If your company values preservation of the culture, it is important to take these practices into consideration when organizing company content.
Please contact me to assist with the process of creating a content management plan and infrastructure.

Content Management Plans – People

Take a look at the overview and the post on components.

People need the right information at the right time for the right price. The people in your organization are the most important part of your company. They do the work. They save the documents. They look for documents. People can make or break a system, product or process. People are messy, as my friend CR likes to say. People are also smart, funny, intelligent, hardworking, hard playing and usually want to get their work done. A poor content management policy allows people to use their intelligence to get their work done while engaging in poor CM practices.

It is critically important to work with people by taking their thoughts and ideas into consideration. I aim to incorporate as many of the ideas and thoughts as possible into a content management policy. If employees take the time to voice their concerns, carefully considering their thoughts is money well spent. The morale boost the staff will get when they see their ideas in action is gold.

Feedback in the Process

As I said, it is important that people are heard and that their specific needs are noted and addressed at the process moves along.

  • Talk to major stakeholders
  • Identify different needs based on the function of different departments

Major stakeholders are people, too. People will have different perceptions of the value of different systems. For example, systems someone does not use may have little value unless it is the payroll system which issues their paycheck. The thoughts of major stakeholders from a strategy perspective are important to guide the process. It is also important to discern biases, especially in terms of products. Do they have an interest in XYZ Cloud Storage company? If so, it is important to know early whether XYZ Cloud Storage must be a component in the Content Management Plan.

Departments are different and function differently. I have to identify the critical needs each department has related to CM in order to create a system that works for all. Making a system work for all departments could hinge on different implementations of the same product. It could be buying and implementing different systems that are symbiotic. Regardless of the system, the foundation of policies is the most important component.

Content Management is iterative. There is a no “one and done”. It has to change and evolve as the organization changes and evolves.

Locations and Location

Location has different meanings in the context of Content Management.Where people save their documents, both drives and services (such as cloud storage services) and where employees are located are important to consider.

Consider what people are saving to different locations, especially if they are using tools in different ways. If Finance is saving to Box and the C-Suite does not have access, there needs to be a bridge.

Consider the effects of location on content management

  • What are different sites doing that works/doesn’t work? Learn from people who are in a different office culture
  • Is there informal training going on in different offices that creates trends in use of tools? Could this training be incorporated into overall onboarding?
  • How is culture affecting content management?
  • How is the local language affecting content management
    • different alphabets


  • The Enterprise Content Manager should have an open door policy. It takes people time to get to know the “Boss of Saving and Finding”. If the ECM has an open door policy and really listens when people come in, then s/he will glean a lot of informal information
  • Listening is key. If people don’t think the ECM is listening they will stop talking
  • Build trust by meeting with each group. The first meeting should introduce the enterprise content manager. Later meetings can be centered around CM successes and frustrations. Wish lists and desires cannot be ignored.
  • Survey, survey, survey. I like to survey regularly, but also like to find a pace that does not create survey fatigue. Surveys should be targeted and broad, quick and long as well as department-based. Company-wide surveys should relate to overall policy. Some HR topics are good for company-wide surveys.
  • Be open in your work. Keep people updated via regular news flashes, blog posts or other culturally appropriate method. Make sure readers can provide feedback to these missives. Some word or turn of phrase or topic may spark an idea. It is important to get the thought at the moment the reader thinks it, because making feedback difficult to provide will reduce the number of ideas.
  • Work with a third party moderator/graphic facilitator to lead productive information gathering meetings

There is more where this came from! Contact me for a consultation.

Content Management Plans – the Components

Please read the first post in this series.

A Content Management Plan consists of the following parts:

  • People
  • Culture
  • Systems
  • Process
  • Audit and Control

There are also other considerations and I usually include a summary when I present to a client. The above are the main components. The parts interlock and affect each other, but are also important in and of themselves.

In my work, I like to use the existing data repositories and systems and overlay them with different user interfaces, where possible. This makes for a smoother transition to new processes even knowing that new systems may be coming soon. This idea is based on allowing workflow to continue as uninterrupted as possible. This idea may not be possible or it may be only possible in part or it may be possible as a long term plan. Based on the information gleaned from the process I will outline over a series of posts this idea can adjust and change to become a valuable content management system that works for the organization.

It should also be noted that planning is great, but triage and content crisis management will have to happen simultaneously. Triage consists of calming ruffled feathered and developing interim solutions to facilitate smooth workflow to run the business of the organization while longer term content management issues are resolved and implemented. This element of the process will also provide additional knowledge that will inform the process.

Existing Data Repositories

Many companies have grown up with a fluid approach to content management. Tech companies allow their employees to save content on Box or DropBox or other systems. The policy, if you can call it that, supports other tech companies and allows employees to be comfortable with at least one aspect of their work.

In small companies, this works fine because someone can yell across the room and ask where to find a document. As companies get larger, this doesn’t work as well. Searching these systems isn’t always successful and searching multiple systems, assuming access is granted is time consuming.

I suggest that an information manager or enterprise content manager be brought in early on to begin to build a foundation on which a content management plan can be implemented. Decisions about document lifecycle and versioning can be made not just decided upon by default. Box and DropBox can be connected to a larger system to facilitate searching and findability.

Running the Business

The reality is that most start-ups won’t do this even when they get to 200+ employees. Content Management isn’t their business, funds are often tight. Decisions have to be made. The challenges come to the fore when a company is starting to get its ducks in a row for an IPO. Documents can’t be found, or take a Herculean effort. Nobody knows whether this is the most recent version or if Joe, who left last week kept the most recent version in his DropBox.

What is your content management policy? Content Management has been hijacked by Marketing people and often deals with content creation. There is a whole other layer to which business owners and managers need to pay attention. Information is an asset and should be treated as such.




























[i] http://www.projectmanagement.com/content/processes/9821.cfm
[ii] http://usacac.army.mil/cac2/AOKM/ContentManagement.asp
[iii] https://www.proposalkit.com/htm/business-proposal-templates/content-management-plan-template-document.htm

Content Management Plans

I worked with a client recently on a contract that turned into a project to develop a content management plan. This will be the first in a series of posts about content management plans.

Content has a value in the same way that software or furniture has value. If employees in organizations cannot find the information or content they need to complete tasks critical to the mission of the organization, how much is the content worth? If people have to redo work because they can’t find a template or model, what is the cost of that hidden content? Content, information, data are all assets despite their pseudo-intangible nature. Management needs to understand the value.

A Content Management Plan is used to outline how an organization manages large amounts of information. Any organization that routinely produces large volumes of information is involved in content management[i], whether they have a formal plan or not. It is important keep content up to date and organized as effectively as possible[ii] so that people can find the information they need at the right time. One goal of a content management plan would be to establish repositories where cleared users have easy access to[iii] the information they need. Information can be internal (reports, news, marketing collateral, policies, model documents, etc) and external (books, magazines, commercial databases, other digital materials, etc). Format is immaterial. Content management applies to the entire cycle that information and data must move through in a business environment. This cycle starts with acquisition or creation, moves through editing or updating, publishing, translation or transformation, to archiving and retrieval. Many people may be involved. Creators, editors, technicians, programmers, etc all create content. There are often other departments affected that are not directly responsible for content such as[iv] sales people using marketing collateral created by the Marketing Department or an outside PR firm. In order to get the most value of the organizational content, as a start, lifecycles should be documented and managed.

[i] https://www.proposalkit.com/htm/business-proposal-templates/content-management-plan-template-document.htm

[ii] http://www.projectmanagement.com/content/processes/9821.cfm

[iii] http://usacac.army.mil/cac2/AOKM/ContentManagement.asp

[iv] https://www.proposalkit.com/htm/business-proposal-templates/content-management-plan-template-document.htm


Poor Content Management Affects Customer Service

I also know about content management and customer service. One affects the other. I am, however, no expert on the grocery business, though I do know that margins are tight, which makes me assume that customers are valuable.

I recently visited a large chain grocery store in an effort to find Egg Replacer by Ener-G. I thought, going in, that chances were slim that I would find it there. Thus, my expectation was already for failure.

I wasn’t familiar with Egg Replacer by Ener-G and I didn’t look it up before I left so I wasn’t sure what the container looked like. This store has a cooler section of ‘eggs’ in little cartons that do not have shells or have already been separated so I looked there first. I didn’t find any product I thought might be the item for which I was looking. I headed over to the baking section. This store does have quite a few options for those with allergies and I looked carefully, but didn’t see what I wanted.

Thanks to http://www.clipartguide.com

Thanks to http://www.clipartguide.com

The store has very few people roaming around to offer assistance. The only person who wasn’t busy was the self checkout monitoring lady. I asked her for what I wanted and this is where the problems started:

  1. Helping me was not her job, so she tried to brush me off.
  2. She didn’t really understand what I wanted and, clearly, wasn’t interested in learning.
  3. She made no effort to get help for my question on her own.

Being deeply embroiled in databases and helping people find information makes these qualities are deeply ingrained in my professional psyche. I suggested she look it up in her database of products.

Blank stare.

I asked her if she had access to a system that would allow her to search for the product I wanted.

She stammered that she didn’t think she had access to such a system.

I stared blankly back at her willing her to suggest she call someone to help (customer service!!!). She didn’t come up with that solution until I suggested it.

I waited until the manager finally arrived, asked my question and was told, as I expected, that they did not carry Egg Replacer by Ener-G. I suggested to the manager that people on the floor should have access to some kind of content management system so he would not have to be bothered by such easy questions. I also suggested that the floor staff get additional customer service training since they were on the front lines with customers, which meant they had a direct effect on business. He said he agreed, though he was probably just jollying me along, but that there wasn’t much he could do about it.

Lessons from the Trenches:

  • Customer service is everything. They had a opportunity to renew my faith in their store, even if they didn’t have the Egg Replacer by Ener-G, through an excellent customer service experience.
  • Content/information is valuable. If your information is not organized and employees can’t find it and use it to provide a good customer service experience, you are doing a disservice to your business.
  • Training is key. Customer service skills do not always come naturally to people (I don’t blame the self-checkout monitoring lady for her lack of skills). If employees, such as the self-checkout monitoring lady, don’t have training in customer service, they cannot, necessarily, deliver a good customer service experience.

Content Management costs money, but it is also the foundation of good business practices and saves money in the end. If your information is organized, then employees can find it and reuse it. Recreating existing, but missing, poorly organized or lost, information costs money.

Content Management – Valuing Content Practically

Some time ago, I talked a little about information reuse and content management. I have had the opportunity to talk with a company that is experiencing this right now. The short version is that people cannot find the information they need and doing their jobs is delayed.

This company is several years old, but still young and I applaud them for realizing that their information has value and wondering if it still has value if nobody can find it.

This is interesting to me and I wonder if it is a trend? For years companies had vast libraries with multiple researchers and librarians corralling information and pushing it back out to colleagues for use in the business of the organization.

Libraries started to close in the early the 2000s and that coffin was nailed shut in the crash of 2008. Many libraries were closed or reduced to shadows of their former glory. Law firms, in their bid to recover from the crash have followed suit. Organizations believed the hype about full text search being the ultimate tool. Librarians didn’t help their cause when they stuck to traditional methods and, in many cases, failed to understand and embrace new technologies and methods.

Now Content Managers are being hired. These are not always MLIS grads; they are sensible people who have skills in organization, but may not be trained in standard (library) methods. This is a place where a forward thinking, technologically oriented information professional can thrive if s/he can get past the stereotype of the shushing librarian.