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Content Process

The importance of content workflows

Mat Murray • 4 minutes

At Delete, when we start working with a client for their new website, mobile app or brand communication piece, there’s always a moment in a meeting.

A moment where the mood changes, and a previously happy and engaged client begins to look worried.

It doesn’t always present itself at the beginning, and it’s not there at the end of the meeting, but at some point, the pained expression will appear.

And it’s to do with content.

When we start working with the client and learning about their objectives for the project and what they hope to achieve, the conversation inevitably gravitates towards content.

And that’s when we see that expression.

For many of the clients we come into contact with, “content” has become a dirty word. Something they don’t want to mention or talk about. It seems that there’s always a certain amount of baggage attached to that simple seven letter word.

In fact, there’s a history there. Memories of projects running away with themselves because of poor content management, former employees feeling stressed as they try to produce content while spinning plates and still performing their day job. Thoughts of budgets spiralling out of control to produce thousands of documents, videos and images on a strict deadline.

We’ve seen the expressions and we’ve heard the stories.

But it doesn’t have to be that way any more. In fact, for our clients at least, it isn’t. Content isn’t a bad word anymore; it’s the first word.

What are content workflows?

Alternatively known as a Content Governance Model, content workflows are the definition of roles, responsibilities and ownership, workflow, documentation, and training of employees to make sure they’re fully equipped to do the best job they can.

Content workflows help to remove the common pitfalls when it comes to producing content. It doesn’t matter how big the task is; from planning and publishing a simple Facebook post to a multi-channel campaign spread over numerous online channels, a defined workflow will help, ensuring:

  • Content is accurate, consistent, and timely
  • Content outcomes and deadlines are achievable
  • Common content problems are addressed e.g. bottlenecks and inconsistencies/errors
  • Employees see where they fit into the larger scheme of content creation, contributing to employee engagement
  • Employees with content responsibilities are clearly accountable

Content workflows help to remove the common pitfalls when it comes to producing content.

Through early meetings, stakeholder interviews and client workshops, we work to get a clear and complete picture of our client’s content landscape. By learning about a client’s system for content, we learn about the bottlenecks and current issues to devise a more holistic approach to content production in the business.

To develop a content workflow, we look at the process, the tasks and the people involved when it comes to content creation, publishing and management.

Process: From start to finish – how does content travel through the client, its partners, and onto the web?

Tasks: Which tasks are required to make the client’s content useful, usable, and enjoyable to its audiences?

People: Who is responsible for ensuring that the client’s content is accurate, timely, on brand, consistent, contextual, and so forth?

By learning about a client’s system for content, we learn about the bottlenecks.

Let’s look at each section in more detail.

Process

By looking at the entry and exit point of every piece of content creation, approval, publication and optimisation, we quickly learn where content slows down in the process. We can quickly see where changes can be made, and where efficiencies can be developed to help the entire content process be much smoother for our clients and their customers. The quicker content can be generated and published, the more reactive and relevant it will be.

Tasks

To ensure that content is useful and usable across multiple platforms, the re-use of content is key. When working with clients to develop content workflows, we employ methodologies such as COPE (Create Once, Publish Everywhere) and set up content production standards to ensure that publishing across different platforms and social networks doesn’t require any wholesale changes.

People

This is often where we can make the biggest changes to the way content is handled by our clients. Ultimately, the goal here is to maximise value for our clients. That comes in the form of ensuring the right member of staff, with the right skillset, knows their responsibilities for the task they’ve been assigned to carry out. To do this, we map out the newly defined content process with individual members of staff or internal teams that own that responsibility.

Delete

A new workflow can bring with it many benefits. Employees have a clear understanding of their responsibilities and where they sit in the process. Team members feel empowered and have more ownership of the work they carry out.

Our previous work with clients and their teams has led to improved morale in organisations, improved attitudes and better work ethics across many different types of roles and levels of experience within businesses.

The risks of working without a content workflow

Working without a clear plan of action or defined content workflow, web projects can suffer from the earliest stage. People and processes sit at the heart of content workflows, and by working with clients to create and deliver new, efficient workflows, content production in businesses can flourish.

Working without a defined content workflow will mean web projects suffer from the earliest stage.

Content can be expensive, and by eliminating the bottlenecks or costly problem areas with content production, publishing or content management, workflows help to reduce the chances of spending time, money and resources on unfocused, poorly executed content that doesn’t engage with customers.

In 2013 we worked with a company in the construction industry to reimagine their content landscape and define a new content workflow.

Through client workshops and comprehensive stakeholder sessions, we learned that content was situated in numerous online and offline locations, with no single repository of content available for users to access.

Following a major content inventory exercise and the migration of thousands of images, documents and other pieces of content, the new online solution went live in September 2013. Definition of content workflow was key to the success of this.

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An organisation has many different moving parts, and if those parts aren’t managed effectively, the whole business can fall apart. It’s the same with content.

By defining your content workflow, you stand to increase return on investment, improve efficiency and generate well executed, useful and usable content for your customers.

You can read more about the process at Delete in our case study.

The importance of content workflows.

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Mark McClendon
Our content processes used to involve an ineffective mix of spreadsheets, documents, and a slew of file storage solutions. With GatherContent we've solved all of those problems and more. Mark McClendon — Partner & Executive Director, VML

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About the Author

Mat Murray

Content Strategist, Delete

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