Tips for Improving Collaboration Using a Content Management System

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Reprinted with permission from Vasont Systems
Originally appeared in CM QuickTips, June 2010

As organizations get larger and work forces become more dispersed or home-based, it becomes harder to get the right people to collaborate on new or revised content. However, writers are not always comfortable giving up ownership of whole documents and sharing content with others in a content management environment.

A content management system can facilitate teamwork between writers, subject matter experts, and editors. Using the six principles of collaboration as identified in the book, Virtual Collaborative Writing in the Workplace: Computer-Mediated Communication Technologies and Processes by Beth Hewett and Charlotte Robidoux (editors), here are ways a content management system can improve collaboration:

Develop a culture of collaboration.

Consolidate content in the content management system and structure content into XML to support new collaboration efforts. The CMS’s central repository allows content to be safely consolidated, searched and shared while being tracked and versioned. It is the trusted source for current, accurate content when writers must share and reuse content.

Find and promote leadership.

Use the CMS to create and enforce various levels of roles and ownership, and easily alter those levels as roles change. Apply roles, workgroups, content ownership and security permissions in the content management system to support effective leadership. As new leaders emerge, it is easy to expand their permissions and responsibilities in the system.

Establish trust.

To build trust, use the content management system’s automation features to ensure that specific tasks are done, enforce standards, and eliminate busy-work to save time and increase reliability.

Implement task automation to enhance trust in the content, the processes, and between the staff members. When tasks are done automatically, it eliminates the potential for others to stray from the established process and do things differently than the rest of the staff.

Use tools and collaborative modes effectively.

Maximize communication using a content management system’s collaborative review tool to promote coordination of activities. The collaborative review capability is an effective tool for facilitating collaboration among many people because it allows for real-time virtual discussions and shared feedback for quicker review cycles, especially with remote reviewers, while providing an audit trail of all comments for future reference.

Create structure.

To ensure consistent work habits and structure among the staff, automate your processes using the content management system’s workflow. Automated workflow ensures that all tasks are completed in the right order and by the right people, so no steps are skipped and no person is left out of the process.

Measure and track performance.

Draw on the content management system’s project management functionality to track performance more easily. As projects are completed, information is automatically tracked—such as who worked on which content and how long tasks took to complete—that can be used to monitor performance. Managers and users can gauge their progress using the project management tools in a content management system to accurately measure workload and schedule attainment.

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