Keeping content accurate and relevant is the difference between documents being an asset that gives teams power, or a liability that causes poor decisions.
Why Content Strategy Matters
This is perhaps the most visible pain point when managing multiple documents. An emergency response procedure, for example, might be re-used for several different emergencies. If you manage static manuals, you probably cut and paste in every place where the procedure is relevant.
But is it in eight locations, or nine?
Changing a policy in one place, updating it in every place, all at the same time, saves time and mitigates the risk of only getting it right eight out of nine times.
Not all locations are the same. While the core procedures are the same, small differences matter.
- A procedure to check-in on patients may vary according to state laws. Every four hours in Texas, every six hours in Florida.
- A procedure for re-ordering inventory varies based on whether your location is full-sized (has a walk-in), or is non-traditional (less freezer space).
- A data center next to a dam has a different set of emergencies to consider than one built near a fault line.
“Evergreen” content can reduce the need to make changes.
- Do you have 57 units, or “more than 50”?
- Do you have a start time of 5:00pm every day, or should they “view schedule for times”?
- Should new customers contact email@example.com, or sales@?
There are dozens of these decisions in every document. Planning them out saves time and makes information more consistent.
Governance is critical to every aspect of content management, and should be given a lot of thought before you ever put pen to paper.
- Topic Ownership: What if one person wants to say “blue” and another says “red”? Who decides? Do you change it one way, then change it back?
- Topic Ownership, Part II: Policies and procedures should be living documents, but who knows that changes need to be made? Roles change, people move on. People tend to worry about day-to-day activities and forget about manuals. What is the schedule? How do you prevent content from going four years without a change?
- Change Frequency: How often do you change the document? Every time you find an error? Monthly? Yearly? Every time you change, you need to print / publish / communicate / distribute those changes. Find the balance between “always up to date” and “users have the correct version”.
Not everyone needs the same amount of detail, but they do all need to understand the objective.
- Leaders care that their point of sale system is accurate and gives them reports.
- Users need to know how to enter orders, how to add exceptions, and what to do if something goes wrong.
“People don’t read anymore.”
They will if they have to, but don’t give them more than they have to. Personalize, localize, and don’t make them read a 600 page document to answer a specific question.
We’d love to help you with solid strategies to avoid duplicated content, maintain version control, and make updating painless.
Your systems should build on themselves from one stage to the next, always planning for change and managing the old along with the new.