Wednesday, June 20, 2007

The Need For Content Governance



I think most people who have worked with content management in an organization have experienced the following:
  • Content products are developed and produced but never or rarely used
  • The content that is produced is not always accurate, complete and/or timely when released
  • Content defects are not discovered, managed and resolved in a structured way once the content has been released
  • The efficiency of content products is not measured
  • Content products becomes outdated but are not archived or retired
  • Content is not maintained and updated
  • Content products do not comply with branding standards and guidelines
  • Content does not comply with laws and regulations
  • Content falls into the wrong hands and get
  • Taxonomies grow wild and become inconsistent and more or less unusable over time
A lot of the content within an enterprise is of great importance or even critical to the enterprise and should therefore be managed with the same respect as other kinds of assets. The reason is, simply speaking, that bad content quality can hurt the enterprise badly. Despite this, many content workers seem to put their faith into technology and simply assume that content will automatically remain complete, correct, fresh and relevant once they have produced and released it. Or even worse, they don't care what happens to it after it has been released the first time.

I have experienced this many times. Often it has to do with the fact that the people that produced the content are no longer responsible and accountable for the content. The content was produced and delivered by a project and then it was left to its own devices once the project closed. If the project deliverables were handed over to someone before the project closed, it was probably handed over to someone in an IT maintenance organization, an organization that was set up to maintain and govern IT solutions – not content. Having the wrong person responsible for managing the content is often worse than having no one responsible for it, because then people tend to believe it is managed when it is not.

So how do you avoid this? Well, first of all it is absolutely essential to have disciplined and skilled people that have the right attitude. This is by far the hardest part. If you are failing here, especially if people's attitude is wrong, then your chances of succeeding are small if not minimal. But if you manage to get disciplined and skilled people with the right attitude by your side, then it is just about establishing and implementing a functioning governance model and getting the right processes, resources, tools and infrastructure in place to manage the content throughout its life-cycle.

When discussing governance models and frameworks, it is important to understand that there is no single model or framework that will suit all organizations. Besides that no organization and enterprise is identical to another, it is often hard to draw distinct lines between different areas of responsibilities. For example, it is hard to draw a distinct line between the management of internet-specific content, intranet-specific content, documents and digital assets. Consequently, it is a better approach to define what needs to be done and what resources and roles are needed to do the work instead of finding a model for how to organize these roles. It is also pretty simple to identify what needs to be done to get well functioning governance, such as:
  • Management support
  • Policies, standards and guidelines to follow
  • Functioning processes
  • Clearly defined roles and responsibilities
  • Skilled and disciplined people with the right attitude
  • Supporting tools and infrastructure
  • Routines for auditing and follow up

It is nice to see that so many organizations are getting better and better at governing their IT business. Now they just need to set the same level of ambition for governing their content.