Continuing our series on the Essential Elements of an Effective Content Backbone, let’s talk about the importance of content governance and oversight.

If you’re a publisher competing in today’s content market, you know that the more content you have, in a variety of forms, the more effective you can be in your business. But how do you build consistent practices and processes, especially in larger, more siloed publishing organizations where each group runs somewhat autonomously?

In order to be effective over the long term in any content organization, there has to be a solid foundation and platform that supports content-producing groups. Without a common vision, standards, and a “governing” process that provides oversight and guidance, content processes and the resulting content itself will have less value and actually incur greater cost to a publishing business.

How to create governance and oversight?

First, there must be awareness and agreement that the foundational approach to how content is produced, and the systems, process, and structure, can only be of benefit to the organization in a larger sense if there is consistency in practice. This reduces technology, process, support, and general operational costs overall. It also creates a plan to connect and aggregate content in accessible and usable ways that will serve a content organization for the long term.

Second, this foundation and approach cannot be adequately built, maintained, and scaled without conscious, educated, and strategic planning or formal oversight. At minimum, a role—and better yet, a group—needs formal definition and authority within a content organization to serve this function. Content as an asset is too important to all publishing organizations today to not approach this proactively and formally. Content creators who originate various types of content, whether print, digital, web, news, blogs, or images, are too busy working with short timelines and limited resources to be concerned about the bigger content needs of their organizations.

Third, document and communicate the bigger content goals and objectives of an organization, and clarify how content platforms, governance, and oversight are important drivers in achieving these goals. Without proactive efforts to increase awareness and publicize the need for governance and the opportunities it creates, buy-in and compliance will not occur.

Any content-producing organization that exists today will likely not exist in the new content world without an adequate and formal content governance effort.

Recommendations for activating a plan:

  1. Define the content platform. Document existing and planned content systems, process, and structure, including future migration plans, to highlight the content development “platform” and its significance to content success.
  2. Define a content governance group. Establish a leader and team focused on content governance and oversight to establish, invest in, and ensure maximum value from all content that is or will be created. This group should define the rules for how content should be created, and the supporting processes and structure needed to keep it usable and in compliance. It must also actively continue to monitor adherence and be prepared to course-correct regularly.
  3. Document and communicate a content governance charter and plan. Educate the organization regularly, especially newly emerging content groups, about the need to be on board with the plan, and instill content governance “owners” in all content groups. Governance needs to be perceived as a supportive and proactive effort, not a dictatorial, hand-slapping backlash after the fact.

Content governance is all about building consensus and agreement around content practices in support of the greater organization, aiming for broadly usable content and the ability to leverage and re-leverage and content in as many forms as possible.

Do you have a content governance model in place? Where are you finding success, and what are you greatest challenges? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

If you missed the previous post in this series, see Structured Content for Effective Content Workflows and 5 Strategies for Maintaining Content Health on the TFP blog.

Posted by: Margot Knorr Mancini

A thought leader in the publishing industry, Margot Knorr Mancini has helped numerous publishers redefine their missions to become nimble content generators with the ability to repurpose content easily and efficiently. As Founder & CEO of Technology for Publishing, her analytical mind allows her to remain a step ahead of the industry, recognizing early trends and developing pivotal best practices.