Managing Content Effectively
In the field of training there are many difficulties from working with SME’s, Production Software, LMS’ and unrealistic deadlines. But nobody really talks about managing what you have out there. After sometime of content development, you will find yourself with hundreds maybe even thousands of pieces of collateral to maintain; and this is no easy task. Add the complexity of client facing and internal content and you may find yourself facing an abundance of unorganized files and possibly even run into version control issues. That is why managing all of this material in an effective way is so important.
The ideal way of managing content may be subjective, but here are some tips we have learned over the years that have proven to be successful.
The first step is to create a document that allows you to easily manage and audit content.
A great example of this technique can be found in Kristin Halvorson’s book Content Strategy for The Web.
Getting started is simple and creating this document will allow you to really analyze what you have.
Utilizing an Excel spreadsheet or Google Sheet, which we love for ease of accessibility, to list everything that is un-archived, and in production. Don’t just list the items you control, but items from all departments. This will become your Content Audit Document.
In the spreadsheet, create a column for each of the following items:
- Client: Name of the client (Note – keep files organized by client for best results)
- Title: The name of the piece of collateral – Include course name, module name, etc.
- Location: This is the link or file location. If the item is in another software or the cloud, name that as well. For example, in Sharepoint, Dropbox, or Basecamp. This allows you to keep track of the item.
- Type: List the type of material: Online documentation (WordPress site or other), PDF, Articulate module, Powerpoint, etc.
- Description: Use this column to quickly glance at to find out what the content is about. List a topic, keyword, or short sentence. If you’re dealing with 100’s of items, this will help you know what is what if you don’t remember based on title. For example, if you have created several modules within one large course.
- Status: If you work on a team, this section is crucial to staying informed. It is used to set the status of when an item is in pending, in progress, ready for review, complete, etc. This section is also to keep track of when an item has been re-worked and/or updated.
- Notes: This section is for any extra info about the content, or client. For example, if the client requested we keep files for a certain amount of time, etc.
It’s A Team Effort!
You may not have the luxury of working on a team, but if you do, take advantage of the resources you have to build this content audit. Divide and conquer is always the best option here. Utilizing a tool like Google Sheets is a great way to do this, since it can be accessed by anyone who has been given permission. Assign members of your team to compile the material they have worked on into the spreadsheet. Since the last person to work on a file generally has the most knowledge about it.
Your Content Audit Is A Working Document
A content audit should never be finished. This is a working document, so don’t close or archive it. With each new project enter any known information at the start of a project, and continue to populate columns throughout the development process. That way at the end of a project that may have extended a long period of time, you won’t have to populate fields based on memory. This document should not only help you in managing current collateral, but help you easily recognize projects that are ready to be archived, freeing up space and giving you peace of mind that all is accounted for and well organized. You can use this spreadsheet system not only to help you audit existing collateral, but to keep track of and manage ongoing, and new projects.
Using a great content management system? We would love to hear what others are doing to manage their work! Let us know by leaving a comment below.