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Intranet Challenges Part 2: Overflowing Intranet Content – cobwebs and redundant information

Date Posted: Thursday, 05 December 2013 14:06
Posted By: Josh Anstey

When you hear the oft-repeated phrase ‘content is King’, or one of the latest variations on it, generally it’s being referred to in terms of its use in content marketing and the quality of said content.

However, it’s also ‘King’ because there’s just so much of it. In the digital world we now live in, media content is easy to store digitally, without the necessity for vast repositories and a plethora of index cards. Whilst this is of course highly convenient to the modern enterprise, it also means that the generation of so much content makes it easy to lose track of it.

intranet-cobwebs

Unless a sound strategy is put into place, on the tail of this, comes all sorts of problems, such as:

  • Duplicate content
  • Documents that are outdated and no longer relevant
  • Confusion over document versions
  • An inability for staff to carry out work that requires the latest information through lost  hours spent searching vast amounts of data

Content Strategy for the Intranet

In order to overcome this, it’s a good idea that when the intranet is set up, a sound content strategy is put in place that will address potential future problems. Of course, this can also be done at a later date if you already have an intranet, but it’s easier to carry out from intranet implementation.

Whichever way, there are means to ensure that content is relevant, that there are certain people within the enterprise that take ownership (on a departmental basis, for example) and that the strategy can make use of content that could remain useful to the company in the first place.

Content Mapping

Content mapping is somewhat like mind mapping. It allows a team to create a visual representation of how content strategy can be implemented. There are several good reasons to carry this out and these include:

  • What CMS to choose which will help you carry out the content strategy
  • Identifying user personas
  • Setting goals for readership of sections and departments
  • Spotting any gaps that are currently not being addressed that will give value to users
  • A starting point for a content audit on an existing intranet

Content mapping can be carried out by brainstorming, using flipcharts or interactive white boards, or using technological group workspaces.

Assigning ownership to content

As we mentioned earlier, responsibility can be assigned to various departments so that they can ‘take ownership’ of the content that the department produces. For example, marketing will produce a lot of content, so by giving ownership to the managers of marketing, then you can ensure a certain amount of continuity.

This means that the department will be responsible for:

  • Archiving older content
  • Setting expiry on content so that it always remains relevant
  • Reusing content that may still be relevant
  • Streamlining the content production process through the use of workflows
  • Implement document management

The design department would also be a good choice for taking ownership, as these will also be involved in the content creation process.

Document management and version control

Imagine that a document was created back in 2009 for, say, the terms and conditions for the company. Then think about how many times regulations or internal changes may require that document to be updated. If, for some reason the older document is found and accidentally replaces the 2013 version, then a lot of extra work could be involved to put it right.

This means that it’s necessary to ensure that the documents that are generated, if they haven’t been archived, should all have version numbers so that it’s clear which the most up-to-date version is. This also reduces the chance of duplicate content being produced and being available to confuse readers.

Again, workflows come into play here and so does setting up the strategy in the first place. It’s likely that more than one person in a larger enterprise will have some input on one document, so this must be avoided with the use of workflows using appropriate technology.

For example, in the marketing department, you may have the following working on one document, such as an article or whitepaper:

  • Content writer
  • Editor(s)
  • SEO professional
  • Designer (this is where is can get tricky if it’s an inter-departmental document)

So to ensure the network isn’t clogged with several saved versions of what is essentially the same document, you can use workflows and approval processes so that just one copy of the document is passed down the line from one person to another.

This is where technology comes in as a good CMS can simplify this in order to ensure that there isn’t a huge digital pile of the same content.

Archiving content

Most of us have at some time or another come across something online that seems relatively exciting, perhaps a piece of news, only to discover that it’s 10 years out of date and is no longer relevant or even correct. The same can happen with company intranets.

To the staff and readers of the content, it’s almost unforgivable, especially if the content they come across is something that they had high hopes for. At best it is frustrating, at worst it can be the cause of internal confusion and reduced productivity if the source information is outdated or incorrect.

This means that it really is necessary to identify content that is no longer of any use and ensure that it’s archived properly and not searchable.

We now produce such a vast amount of content that it’s something that every company should consider when it comes to how they store, discard or archive information so that it’s always current and useful to the reader.

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