The APQC Blog

Want Better Enterprise Content Management? Make Your Audience Happy

As part of APQC’s Connecting People to Content study, I’ve spent the past six months thinking about the best ways to create, organize, and deliver enterprise content. What does an ideal content strategy look like, and how does it differ from the status quo? Admittedly, there are many different answers to this question, with a lot of nuances and variations (check out the full best practices report or the webinar I gave last month if you want details). But here are my quick-and-dirty tips for organizations that want to better design, manage, and connect people to enterprise content.

  1. Keep your audience in mind. The most effective organizations clearly define their target audiences for content and then build their strategies, processes, and tools around the needs of actual content creators and users. They do scenario planning up front, think about usability, and listen to ongoing user feedback. We all know to put the customer first, but it’s easy to lose sight of that when developing internal content and systems for employees.
  2. Define content broadly. A lot of firms think of content in terms of SOPs and traditional documents. But a good strategy looks at all the information and knowledge being created for and by employees, including things like videos, community and project sites, and Yammer conversation threads. Where appropriate, make sure you’re indexing this content for search and harvesting the best of it as a basis for more “official” or permanent content.
  3. Get rid of stuff. A lot of firms think more is better when it comes to content, and they end up storing things “just in case” someone needs them. But the organizations we studied know that no one wants to wade through outdated stuff, and they take a pretty aggressive stance on archiving and deleting items that haven’t been updated or used within a set period of time. Several even have auto-archival processes so that content automatically goes away unless authors proactively opt to keep it. (Even if a document needs to be kept to satisfy legal or retention policies, that doesn’t necessarily mean it should be junking up the main enterprise repository or search results.)
  4. Think outside the (search) box. Yes, you need a good search capability—that’s table stakes at this point. But top organizations also use analytics and targeted recommendations to push the most relevant content to employees based on their role, location, current projects, community memberships, or what they’ve searched or downloaded in the past. The right delivery mechanism for recommendations varies by organization: it might be a social activity stream or customized links on the intranet, or it might be email if that’s what works. But with so much content being generated and so many distractions, you have to nudge people toward what’s relevant and timely.
  5. Put content where people work. This is a natural extension to #1: If you walk a mile in the shoes of your content audience, then you can ensure content is available when, where, and how they need it. If your audience is field sales, then you need a mobile app that gives them access to product information and expertise on the go. If you’re creating content for insurance underwriters, then you build instructions and tips into the software application they use for underwriting. The bottom line is: If you make access convenient and intuitive, people will use the resources available to them—but if you make it hard, they won’t.

PS: My partner in crime Mercy Harper created a cool infographic based on the content life cycle at the organizations featured in the study. Check it out here.