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Building Content Engineering Change Within the Organization

A big challenge when developing a content engineering program is defining the CE's role.

A growing consensus believes a content engineer is key to success for any complex content-centric project involving content production and software system development.

Once the organization is ready for content engineering, it must build a practice and center of excellence around content engineering skills, disciplines and process. Most organizations will find that building a content engineering discipline best starts at home. Find the raw aptitude internally; train the skills; augment from the outside; and, grow a CE, or multiple CEs. Then start to document and build the practice around those newly minted.

To find a CE internally, consider staff aptitudes and interests, and introduce the concepts, seeing what resonates. Key candidates will recognize the role immediately, and gravitate to learning more and practicing in the space. The CE might be found in a business analyst (BA) or marketing analyst, or an experienced web developer that carries strategic and technical perspectives.

Build towards talents able to unravel the complexity of disparate content technologies and strategies. The CE should become a pivotal component of the CEM process; working with internal marketing, agency creative and strategy, and platform and implementation partners.

Personalization and a strong customer experience strategy built on adaptive content and responsive design is possible. With help from a CE, the implementation team can bridge the integration gap between content strategy, content management system planning and platforms, and CEM technologies and initiatives. Content engineers and content strategists are often senior members of the CEM team, but ultimately both should be integrated into the development workflow.

Teams where the strategists develop solutions working with business stakeholders exclusively, and then simply issue them to the development teams, are less likely to succeed. Integrating CSs and CEs into the development cycle improves project success.

Content engineering fits well into either an agile or waterfall development lifecycle. Because of the tight alignment between strategy and application development, integrating everyone into a single workflow ensures communication and integration of disciplines. For more traditional waterfall cycles, content engineering can be considered a phase following content strategy, and then running concurrent to development.

In general, for agile teams, a Scrum methodology seems to work well. CEs get integrated into daily team standups; they also work against a backlog and tackle work in sprints. They can see their inputs mapped to outputs, and influence ad-hoc decision-making on the part of development teams.

It’s important for organizations contemplating developing a content engineering practice to understand that content engineering adds significant time and cost up front, but saves even more time and cost on the backend. Whichever methodology is chosen, just know that content engineering is iterative and collaborative, and best played as a team sport.

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