Enterprise content management systems are a necessity for any content-heavy business that needs a more efficient, versatile and powerful approach to online communication.

If you produce content of any form in a reasonable volume – whether that is product pages, news posts, reports, images or anything else critical to your business – then you need enterprise content management.

Enterprise content management systems are usually referred to as Enterprise CMS or ECM systems, and they come in various shapes and sizes; from Alfresco’s pioneering platform that combines elements of ECM with Business Process Management (BPM), to the AI-informed IBM Watson Content Hub CMS.

Finding the right Enterprise CMS that suits your needs will come down to timing, procurement arrangements and technical requirements – and it is beyond the scope of this blog post to compare and recommend enterprise content management vendors.

However, regardless of the CMS chosen there are several ways that your business can be better set up for enterprise-level success in the management of your content. And that certainly is not beyond the scope of this blog post.

It is smack dab in the middle of it.

Enterprise content management planning

Think of the whole enterprise

The first piece of advice is a somewhat wishy-washy mindset issue – but it is nevertheless very important. Success with enterprise-level content management requires a proper enterprise content management strategy that considers the whole business and all of its moving parts online.

Start to think about ‘content’ not in terms of output produced from siloed teams or business divisions, but instead as representations of information that is collaboratively produced by your company on a regular or irregular basis.

The goal is not to get the marketing department to produce better brochures while also helping product managers deliver more up to date tech specs – the goal is instead to improve the information flow of your entire organisation, both from within and without.

The goal of enterprise content management is to improve the information flow of your entire organisation CLICK TO TWEET

Approaching enterprise content management from this viewpoint will help ensure that the best decisions are made for your particular business needs and structure, no matter what you do.

Find opportunities for reusable content

A good ECM system will give you great new opportunities to leverage ‘reusable content.’

Many content elements can be used more than once – for example, basic product descriptions, disclaimer text, staff profiles, sidebar links, even news items. If they can be made to appear identically on several pages this can both enhance the overall user experience and consistency of a website, and make things more efficient for your content creators.

Using the relevant part of your enterprise CMS platform, it should be possible to make repeatable content elements that only need to be edited in a single place in the back-end, and will then automatically update across the site.

The only slight issues you may encounter putting this amazing capability to work for your business are:

  • Duplicate content in Google – Google can penalize a web page’s rankings if it has exactly the same content as another page, and Google can’t work out what the original is. However, provided you don’t have two pages that are more than around 30% identical, this shouldn’t be too much of a problem (but check with your SEO specialist as every site is different).
  • Author/editor update rights – make it clear to all users of the system who is the owner of the original piece of content that gets duplicated. If you have the same legal disclaimer on 300 pages, you do not want to give a junior marketer, tasked with improving layout for just one page, to have the ability to update the duplicated piece across the whole site. Keep your workflow clear and cohesive.

Start to think about your current content in terms of what can be reusable and you can make huge gains in efficiency while also multiplying opportunities for engaging with your customers and audiences in a richer way.

Look for marginal gains in workflow

A new enterprise CMS platform will provide multiple ways for you to carry out new and existing processes in different ways, and will take some time to embed into daily web operations.

It also affords the opportunity to introduce hundreds of small improvements to publishing and analysis workflows across your business that can add up to large cumulative results. This is known as marginal gains – and they are achieved through standardization and simplification.

Your enterprise content management strategy will involve multiple processes, user access rights, publishing responsibilities, KPIs and external engagement goals – but as many of the steps and guidance that your employees need to work through in order to carry out these tasks should be as consistent and simple as possible. Or, ideally, eliminated altogether.

Through regular engagement with your CMS users you can identify bottlenecks or uncover areas where tutorial or training information is lacking, and improve as many of them as possible – for example:

  • If you have an online publishing form with 28 inputting fields, but only 22 are ever used – get rid of the superfluous 6.
  • If division A has carried out detailed keyword research that would be useful for division B’s content – ensured it is shared and collated so that division B marketers aren’t starting from scratch when creating new SEO content.
  • If document publishing takes a week because one step in the process needs manual approval from a single overwhelmed IT worker – consider training 3 others to do the job too, and create a simple task queue and email alerts so they can handle the jobs and track  performance.

Marginal workflow gains empower and encourage employees to do more and do it better. Ensure they are clearly explained and communicated to everyone important (giving the rationale behind alterations so that people know they are done for a good reason – and aren’t changes for change’s sake) and you could get great results.

Provide needs-based training

Nothing makes employees’ eyes glaze over faster than in-depth training on new systems and services. You know, they know it and the trainers certainly know it – but yet it still seems important to go through the motions and give everyone a superficial understanding of all 4,783 different features of the new platform – so that they know just enough to bombard IT with questions and do many small things badly.

Thankfully, there is a better way.

Restructure your approach to training for a new enterprise CMS to focus on employee needs first. Ask different teams what specific tasks and requirements they have which currently require using your CMS, or which they would like to be able to carry out on it, and build practical training sessions around them.

Also provide access to the materials that will teach them what capabilities are possible, so that they can take advantage of the new functions when ready, but by focussing first and foremost on their immediate priorities you can embed the basic functions of the new platform into your processes as painlessly as possible.

Enterprise content management success

Ultimately, your ability to succeed with enterprise content management will come down to many different moving parts and processes all working in harmony.

Unlocking the power of your organisation’s valuable content assets and putting them to work for you in a way that helps build more new business engagement and grows customer lifetime value is an incredible goal and an ongoing challenge that could last as long as you are in business.

So be sure to check a range of enterprise content management vendors to find a system right for you – but also spend the time thinking about how exactly you want to put these powerful tools to work for your business in the first place, and you’ll be much better prepared to take things to the next level.

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How to Succeed with Enterprise Content Management

Also published on Medium.

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