Do I Need Content Operations?

Common Questions About ContentOps

Content Operations is how an organization performs the day-to-day business of acquiring, managing, and leveraging content. It is a management activity that monitors, evaluates, and guides the content lifecycle and experience, to ensure the goals set by a Content Strategy are realized. 

[A] helps our clients determine strategic content needs, and assists with setting up a Content Operations practice. In this article, we collect and address some of the more common questions, or misconceptions, around Content Operations.

Looking for assistance on Content Operation initiatives? [A] can meet you on your timeline, scale, and budget. Find the solutions that best serves team and organization, reach out today

How do you distinguish between content maintenance and ongoing content innovation?

Some people think that Content Operations is about maintaining what they’ve been doing all along.

With Content Operations, we strive to determine if we are “doing the best that we can do” with content. In a sense, this is where the rubber meets the road. On the one hand, we have the Content Strategy, and on the other hand, we have Content Engineering. Content Operations implements those frameworks on a day-to-day basis. Ideally, these content frameworks should be flexible enough to allow for new channels and new ways of communicating, like implementing personalization. 

Content Operations also encompasses content maintenance. It is about managing a full content lifecycle. Innovation is a function of agility, which can only be maintained in an intentional way through operations. Much of the success depends upon content orchestration, which involves lots of choreography.

How does Content Operations differ from regular techdoc (technical documentation) management?

Techdoc management tends to be at the product-line or business unit level, whereas content operations rises above those levels and look across the enterprise. The view of ContOps is; how can we improve globally, rather than just across that one product line? 

Content Operations determines how we can innovate, harmonize, and synchronize all of these efforts, without damaging what already exists. 

The best content operations specialist is someone who can look at both details and the big picture, and maintain the synchrony between the two. That specialist constantly strives to answer:
  • How can we gain efficiency in those processes?
  • How can we make the supply chain more effective?
  • How can we improve the throughput?

Unlike techdocs management, Content Operations must also look outside of the organization to see how other people are managing the content lifecycle. This must be done in a proactive and systematic way, as opposed to being forced to make the change because issues arose. Content Operations stays on top of innovation.

Hand-off points are another difference from techdoc management. Techdocs have been innovated over many years, and affected more content component management than anyone else in the enterprise. We can benefit from those patterns, and we need to abstract them into marketing, into learning, and into other content consuming areas inside the publishing universe of an enterprise. 

Systems and patterns are the fundamental way to improve a complex knowledge environment. There is no way for Content Operations to make an impact if it is purely siloed, simply because our content touches so many points. How do we orchestrate the silos? How do we determine the things in content that need to change and the things that can continue to be the same?  We need to look at it systematically.

Which problems are most common in starting Content Operation initiatives?

Lack of a baseline is almost universal. It’s hard getting efforts put together with money and people around a problem if there’s no baseline understanding of its dimensions.

Everyone talks about there being opportunities for improvement around Content Operations, and they get together for committee meetings to explore individual issues and resolve them. However, there’s not really an effort to organize that into a product management approach, with a set of benchmarks and baselines.

That’s one of the biggest things that [A] does for our clients: creating that baseline, and sharing the results. Sounds familiar? Reach out today and the experts at [A] can get your team on track and reduce overhead.

What skills and experience do you think are relevant for potential Content Operations practitioners?

Of course! This is our bread and butter. Some quick-tips:
  • Be a good facilitator.
  • Listen to a variety of people. 
  • Collaborate with other stakeholders. 
  • Bring people together. 

That ability to travel between the big picture and the details without getting bogged down in either one is essential. You need people on your team who can focus on implementation, and you need people with system-level thinking. 

Ensure that you have a well-rounded team around you, and that the person in charge is good at facilitating those conversations. 

What product creates the baseline? 

The best way is to view the supply chain as a product, a similar approach to product management.

So, the Content Operations team needs to understand the performance of that content supply chain, as if it were like any software, a physical good, or anything else that you are shipping in any form. The content must have some clearly defined indicators of success. 

You also must understand that content supply chains have friction involved. Friction impedes velocity. If you want to improve content velocity, you have to reduce friction. 

Create an intelligent, reproducible framework that can be shared using patterns to reduce friction. When you increase velocity, you increase your ability to competitively deliver content that powers all of these customer experiences throughout your business. 

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[A] Expertise
Content Operations