Workflow – The Unlikely Revolutionary in the Democratization of Content Contribution?

downloadWhen organizations deploy content management systems, one of the business objectives that is often cited for the new system is to broaden the number of content authors. You’ll hear reference to marketers and communicators becoming more autonomous, the removal of IT bottlenecks or reducing the dependency on external agencies – and I refer to this as the democratization of content contribution.

Over my 15 year career in web content management, I have heard this at almost every client I visit. The surprising thing is that back at the turn of the millenium you could expect that, the management of content was a relatively new thing, something that was slowly being operationalized from an IT function and yet today I meet clients with exactly the same objective, as they move from one (probably poorly implemented and maintained) CMS solution to their latest hope for content independence.

Content independence? Yes, quite literally, I recently had a client whose senior sponsor wished his team a happy Independence Day holiday as he kicked of a CMS replacement project with:

..as we celebrate our country’s independence from an over-controlling, taxing government, and in our professional lives we really get into gear to create our independence from an outdated, over-controlling, taxing system called.. [CMS vendor name removed to protect the innocent]

There is also a content explosion happening within organizations (something I describe here on CMSWire), the demand for relevant content, localized for this visitor and served across a plethora of digital channels is cranking up the content demand so that we have to look beyond the four folks in marketing to be the voice of our organization.

When talking about the democratization of content contribution, the conversation is normally focused around how easy it is for the business user to use the CMS. Who in this business has not seen the RFP question for a CMS system that says “Must be easy to use”?

Yet, in truth the less sexy subject of workflow and governance becomes essential. Yes, yes, workflow with a CMS can be a standing joke amongst CMS professionals, back in my days as a pre-sales consultant for a CMS vendor I recall demonstrating how to develop the most amazing workflow in Visio for the audience to ask “Can we turn all that off?” and Janus Boye, a seasoned content management professional described it as his #1 CMS feature that “Customer Want and Never Use”.

But – if we are truly in the age of democratized content production, if we genuinely want to move away from the same 4 marketing technologists that have been trained on the CMS to actually plugging into the relevant content from the subject matter experts; workflow and governance become a critical capability enabling organizational trust and provide the guide rails that a new content contributor needs.

So, yes all hail workflow, the unlikely revolutionary in the democratization of content contribution!

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