Tips for Taking a Content Inventory

Many organizations that create lots of content to support the products they sell or to educate people with the latest information in their field are finding big savings by investing in a content management system (CMS). Developing a good content management strategy can save thousands – even millions – of dollars in editorial, production and translation costs. And, it will reduce cycle times to get the content in the hands of the consumers.

To begin, you should take a thorough inventory of your content assets. This inventory can then be used to develop your content management strategy. If you have large volumes of content, doing a content inventory can seem overwhelming. Where do you begin? Here are some tips to get you started:

Start with the consumer.

Whether you are creating content for end users of your products (consumers, professionals, teachers) or internal clients (help desk or field support staff), take a survey of your audience and find out what they really use…and more importantly, what they don’t use. You may be surprised to find that you are spending a lot of time updating content that no one reads. Eliminate the unnecessary content from your inventory and focus on the important information. There’s no point in managing content that isn’t useful to anyone.

Provide what’s really needed.

During your audience survey, you may also discover that new content that is required. As times change and audiences become savvier with technology, there may be a need for new deliverables, such as an application for smart phones or access to documentation on tablet computers like the IPad. Or consumers may need new documentation on best practices to help them work smarter with your products. If these content assets are truly needed by the masses and not just a minority of your audience, make a plan to add these critical pieces to your content assets.

Look for reuse opportunities.

Once you have refined your content assets to what is current and necessary, look for the areas where content is exactly or closely duplicated. Also, take note of where the duplication occurs and how big of a content chunk is similar (i.e., paragraph level, entire sections). For example, you might use the warning “Don’t use the phone at the refueling point” in several manuals. You might also use “Switch off the phone at the gas pump” in other places. Choose a consistent wording for this warning and reuse it in all publications. You will consolidate the amount of content you have to manage and make it more consistent and accurate in the long run.

Go with the flow.

As you determine what chunks of content you will manage in your content strategy, take note of who is responsible for creating, reviewing, or approving the different content modules. Some content, such as boilerplate or sensitive information, may need to be written and approved by the legal team. Other content might need to be reviewed for accuracy by a team of doctors or scientists. These notes will help to round out your content management strategy by defining your content workflow as well as user permissions and roles for accessing content in the CMS.

Call us at 717-764-9720 or visit our website for help in getting started with your content management strategy.