Content Creation and Workflow

Question: How do people handle content creation and workflow? (a survey) Organizations of all sizes struggle with content creation and publishing workflow issues. These problems are varied, time-consuming, and waste finite resources. Many can negatively impact an organization's ability to meet business goals, be cause for regulatory and legal headaches, and frustrate employees. To help better understand and quantify the major content creation and publishing workflow problems affecting business communicators (e.g., technical, medical, training and marketing writers) and to learn which software tools are being used to help reduce workflow obstacles, The Content Wrangler created a short survey. 234 communicators responded. The data collected indicates content creation and publishing workflow is an area in which most organizations can make improvements and save significant resources. Additionally, the data suggest software vendors -- both authoring tools and content management systems -- have a lot of work to do when it comes to product name recognition and adoption (read: sales). A brief summary of some of the issues uncovered is presented here for your review. Workflow: Automation or not? 77.8% of participants believe their content creation and publishing workflow could be improved by automation 6.4% said they did not believe their content creation and publishing workflow can benefit from automation 15.8% said they did not know whether their content creation and publishing workflow could benefit from automation Workflow specifics: What are the biggest problems? Participants were asked to rate workflow problems as "always a problem," "often a problem," "sometimes a problem," "seldom a problem," "not a problem," and "don't know." Most common problems were rated "often a problem," or "sometimes a problem." Often a problem: Waiting, change management, and content reuse - The results indicate content creators and publishers are often waiting for others to complete their tasks, causing delays that force them to rush to complete their tasks and/or prevent them from being able to find time to create value-added content. Content reuse, content retrieval, and change management issues were also rated as "often a problem." Ensuring those who need to know are notified when changes occur - 34% Determining which changes need to be made and where - 36% Reusing content in an efficient way - 32% Managing reusable content - 30% Locating all instances where content has been reused - 27% Changing all instances where content has been reused - 25% Locating all instances where reusable content should be used - 30% Obtaining timely content review- 35% Getting content approved prior to publication - 28% Rushing to complete tasks on time - 36% Waiting for others to complete tasks- 41% Finding time to create additional value-added content - 36% Finding time to accomplish all the tasks that should be completed prior to deadline - 29% Sometimes a problem: Version control, finding existing content, and retiring outdated content - The results indicate content creators and publishers have difficulty identifying and retiring outdated content, preventing inaccurate and inconsistent content from being published, ensuring changes are made to all content that needs to be changed, and meeting deadlines. Problems with version control, and change management issues create further bottlenecks. Content creators and publishers say they have to spend time recreating content that already exists simply because they can't locate it. And, to make matter worse, in order to meet deadlines, they are often forced to skip steps in their organizations' content creation and publishing workflow. Locating all content that needs to be changed - 31% Ensuring all changes are made everywhere they should be - 34% Controlling versions of content - 29% Preventing inaccurate content from being published - 35% Preventing inconsistent content from being published - 33% Identifying and retiring outdated content - 36% Completing all tasks that should be completed prior to deadline - 34% Preventing workflow bottlenecks - 32% Recreating content that exists but canĀ¹t be found - 28% Meeting deadlines - 33% Skipping steps in content creation and publishing workflow in order to meet deadlines - 28% Brand identity and content management systems: And the winners are - Content management tools vendors have their work cut out for them. Author IT and Documentum have excellent brand recognition, while SiberLogic, Vasont, Astoria, XyEnterprise and Ektron are not as well known to survey participants as the marketing departments at these companies may believe they are. 75% of participants said they "know of" Author IT and 65% said the same of ECM Documentum. The "never heard of" category is something smart marketers of content management software should take note of. 18% of participants said they "never heard of" Author IT 26% of participants said they "never heard of" ECM Documentum 59% of participants said they never heard of" SiberLogic SiberSafe 62% of participants said they "never heard of" Vasont CMS 65% of participants said they "never heard of" Astoria CMS 71% of participants said they "never heard of" XyEnterprise Content@ 88% of participants said they "never heard of" Ektron CMS Brand identity and usage of authoring tools: And the winners are - Some authoring an editing tools vendors also have significant work to do in the area of brand identity, product name recognition, and usage. The tools with the best name recognition are -- not surprisingly -- Adobe FrameMaker and Microsoft Word 2003. Both of these tools are known to 98% or more of respondents. The most often used authoring and editing tools are also Adobe FrameMaker (65%) and Microsoft Word 2003 (52%). The others didn't fair as well. 1% of participants said they "never heard of" Adobe FrameMaker 2% of participants said they "never heard of" Microsoft Word 2003 29% of participants said they "never heard of" Arbortext EPIC 52% of participants said they "never heard of" Blast Radius XMetaL 55% of participants said they "never heard of" Altova XML Spy 79% of participants said they "never heard of" Tibco TurboXML What the results mean for software vendors: There's a lot more that can be gleaned from viewing the complete survey results. There's simply too much data to cram into one short article. One thing is for sure, there's significant room for improvement in the content creation and publishing workflow arena and software tool vendors need to take a close look at their marketing strategies and design campaigns aimed at reaching those who have workflow problems and know it. With more than 187,000 small to medium sized businesses (100-1000 employees) in the U.S. alone, the vendors who offer affordable tools that can automate the most expensive and time-consuming content creation and publishing workflow problems are sure to reap big rewards. But only if they find a way to increase brand awareness. After all, if we don't know who they are, how do they expect us to purchase their products? You can view the entire survey summary here: http://www.surveymonkey.com/Report.asp?U=113930568102.