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Changing the Conversation

February 09, 2011

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Content organizations such as technical publications often acknowledge the need to move to component content management but bemoan their ability to get funding. While the financial crisis of 2008 slowed everything down, businesses can’t stay in business without doing business. They have to release and maintain products. The economic downturn has made companies look for process improvements so they can do more with less. It’s also emphasized the need to shorten product cycles, improve the customer experience, and provide content in multiple languages to support simultaneous releases in multiple geographies. Content management serves as an enabling technology to support all of these goals. So why is there difficulty getting support to move forward? Perhaps it’s conversation. Rather than talking about what content management is, we need to focus on the benefits and link them to the business case.

When you think about making a change such as the move to structured content, do you think in terms of what you need to do rather than the benefits of doing it? If you are going to convince others that there’s value in your CCMS project you need to be clear about the need and understand the benefits. You’ll be most successful if you align your goals to the business goals—not only in your own functional area, but also the highest level business goals.

In general, there are two kinds of business goals: Cutting costs and growing revenue. For a project to be funded you’ll have to show a benefit that links to one of those goals. The benefits of your CCMS project will be operational benefits—doing more with less and capability benefits—doing something new or different. Operational benefits often result in cutting costs and capability benefits often support growth goals such as entering new markets either geographically or by introducing new products, or by meeting customer experience or satisfaction goals.

Understanding the corporate goal is important in the conversation you have. A common reason to move to structured content is to support translation into multiple languages. It can result in operational efficiency—eliminating desktop publishing costs, but it can also result in expanded capability to support simultaneous releases in multiple geographies or shorten the time to market. What is more important to the business? Where’s the biggest benefit to the company? What’s going to get the most support for your project?

Topics: DITA, component content, changing the conversation, business goals