The APQC Blog

KM Professionals Respond: Creating Content People Actually Want

APQC asked a roundtable of KM professionals about how organizations can improve their content management. Our best-practice research says great content management systems have content developed around stakeholder needs. We asked, "Why don't companies create content that meets stakeholder needs, and what can they do to make sure it happens?

Paul Corney and Martin White: Companies rarely understand the importance of information as an asset. Thus, processes related to content curation are fitted in as a “hobby” around other tasks. This makes content management work difficult to prioritize. For example, content management may be invisible to a line manager, and when a content author leaves, it may not be obvious that their replacement needs to assume responsibility for that content. Companies have to adopt good practices in information management and appoint someone at board level to take responsibility for content creation.

Stan Garfield: Organizations tend to think that their content is of interest to their stakeholders, so they attempt to push it out. Instead, organizations should make content attractive so that people will desire to pull it out. To use pull instead of push, organizations should ask stakeholders what they want and listen carefully to their answers, and then be responsive. Organizations can also review search results, queries, email messages sent to distribution lists and official mailboxes, and requests made to knowledge brokers. Look for patterns of missing or hard-to-find content, and then take steps to provide that content and make it easy to find.

Steve Dale: I’m not convinced that many content management implementations make the effort to identify all potential stakeholders, or perhaps even understand what a “stakeholder” is. A content management solution must take into account the needs and motivations of the major stakeholders, which will include developers, content contributors, business owners, content administrators, and production staff.

Some of the reasons why stakeholder needs are not met—or even ignored—include:

  1. The development-operational divide: IT/Developers don’t fully understand the business, and will opt for a technical solution they do understand. This usually entails some compromise by operations staff, business users, and other stakeholders.
  2. Security: access to some external services and websites is blocked.
  3. Support costs: the need for standard applications and devices, which are not necessarily the best that are available.
  4. Accelerating rate of change: organizations are finding it increasingly difficult to keep up with a rapidly changing marketplace. New technologies and content sources take time to be fully integrated into production systems.

The answer may be too radical for some, but it comes down to having a clear strategy for managing rapid change. This will include using cloud products and services or outsourcing some content production processes. Any such strategy must be accompanied by rapid decommissioning of legacy production processes and technology.

To see more KM professionals’ responses, check out this free article: Content Management Roundtable: Developing Content Around Stakeholder Needs. The roundtable included the following participants: