A content management initiative is a lot about change–changing the way people think and work. Ensure that you have a change management plan in place. If you have change management personnel in-house, get them involved in your project as soon as you make the decision to adopt a content management initiative. If you don’t have change management personnel, consider hiring consultants who specialize in change management.

Areas of change include:

  • New technology – People find learning new technology daunting. It can bring with it new concepts and certainly new ways of doing things.
  • New processes – People become comfortable with their processes even if they are cumbersome and not very effective. Changing those processes may bring anxiety and resistance.
  • New roles – New roles will be created and old ones may disappear or change. People often fear for their jobs.
  • Structured writing and collaborative writing – If you move to a unified content strategy when you adopt content management, your organization needs to adopt structured writing and collaborative writing. Structured writing is a very different way of writing that is often difficult for authors to adopt initially. They may experience feelings of loss of creativity, or what they believe are invalid restrictions on their writing style.

In addition, while many organizations do a lot of work in teams, authoring is usually not one of them. Collaborative authoring is required to ensure that content can be reused across many different products and across many different types of documentation. Authors may be protective of their content or not willing to use other authors’ content because it does not meet their “standards”.

Develop a change management plan that includes:

  • Identifying the issues and consequences of continuing to do business the way you currently do, and listening to and addressing the issues you discover
  • Communicating to people on an ongoing basis
  1. why change needs to happen
  2. the plan for implementing the change
  3. the ongoing status of the change
  4. the successes you have achieved in early implementations
  5. the problems you have encountered and how you fixed them or plan to avoid them in the future
  • Involving “change agents” (people from the areas being affected by the change) to help you implement the change
  • Using a champion (senior management) to endorse and evangelize your project
  • Educating people at the beginning of a project as well as throughout the project lifecycle
  • Listening to ongoing concerns and problems and working to address them

If you focus only on the technology, you may fail to realize the impact a content management initiative could have on the people in your organization, its culture, and political processes. It’s the people in the organization who will either make the project a success, or resist the change and compromise the project. Consider the changes that a single sourcing initiative will have on the people in your organization and ensure that you address these changes in advance and on an ongoing basis.