It’s trendy, it’s controversial. And it appears to be “the next big thing” that will impact the field of technical communication. Content management at the enterprise level, in some ways, is a no-brainer. Reduce the time and effort it takes to create and maintain content for all the various stakeholders of any organization, and the benefits are tremendous. And technical communicators are best suited to this enterprise content management stuff, right?
In reality, it can be a very tough thing to implement. Folks who create content often live in very siloed worlds, where the product people never share with tech support or training, and tech comm and marketing live at cross-purposes. Sometimes the technology needs really are different, but almost always each team believes that their content has to be different from the others. Whether or not that’s true, content management in any organization is a complex set of processes, with varying degrees of automation, that require an equally complex set of skills.
This could be a “good thing” for technical communication professionals, leading to many more career opportunities than we might initially believe. And that’s why we’ve put together this week’s technical communication poll on the roles technical communicators could, or should, play in enterprise content management. You may already be responsible for many of these roles and activities, but do you handle it across the enterprise? Are you working with the professionals in product development, customer support, marketing, and human resources to ensure that the right people are handling the right tasks? And more importantly, are they taking the cross-functional view, to ensure these disparate groups can adapt and manage according to the enterprise view?
Content management, when viewed from this strategic level bears a lot of resemblance to our concept of integrated technical communication (ITC). The notion of having a well-oiled machine deliver the right content to a particular stakeholder exactly when they need it is quite compelling. But before we take on that enterprise content management role, it’s probably a good idea to understand the component processes, who they impact, and how to improve them.
So take a few minutes to vote in this poll, and do add a comment or two on how you see content management issues playing out in your organization and in the technical communication profession as a whole.