Overcoming the content challenge

Tips for managing and migrating intranet content on a short timeline.

Content is king. It probably always will be, which means that no matter how slick your intranet solution is (or is becoming), it won’t succeed without content that’s both reliable and findable.

Creating this kind of content is no small feat. In fact, it’s the biggest risk of every intranet redesign project I work on. As a team, we highlight the risk up front, calling it out at the start of a project to ensure our clients have the lead time they need to be successful. We walk through steps to take, and we encourage them to get started as soon as possible.

Starting ASAP is even more crucial when we’re on a tight timeline. If you’ve had the chance to read about our work with Barton Malow or WestJet, you’ll have noticed that Go Intranet Accelerator projects are fast. From kick-off to launch, a Go-based project can be completed in just eight weeks. While the pace is amazing for project managers and those keeping their eyes on budget, it can be fear-inspiring for those mapping out the content kingdom.

So how do people actually manage content creation and migration these days, especially with shorter project timelines? Here are three insider tips from our friends at Barton Malow and the BC Provincial Health Services Authority.

Complete a thorough audit

Completing a full inventory and audit is step one. It’s how you’ll grasp the full scope of work you’ll have to complete before going live. In addition to walking clients through the process of how to complete an audit, we provide templates that clients can make use of to complete the process and to evaluate work required to complete each content-related task.

“Habanero was so helpful when it came to providing us with templates, and we definitely used them,” says Barton Malow’s Dana Galvin Lancour, Senior Director, Marketing & Communications. “Their template kept us focused on the objective, which was to figure out what would stay and what would go,” Dana explains.

Ensure you have the right team in place

Having the right resources to complete the work is step two to ensuring your team can deliver on time. Successful organizations thoughtfully distribute the work and assign dedicated resources or bring in part-time or contract employees to help get the work done.  

At PHSA, “three or four of us worked on the intranet as our primary focus for eight months,” says Libby Brown, Director of Corporate Communications. Following launch, one person continues to support the intranet full-time, overseeing 150 content owners and editors across the organization. On top of assigning the right number of people to the job, Dana points out the importance of assigning the right skill set: “I’m blessed to have a content manager whose background was library sciences and advertising. I can’t imagine having done this project without her.”

Create a content creation and migration plan that works for you

There is no one right way to create and migrate content. A distributed model can be a dream for one organization and a disaster for another. Whatever process you select, during a big project like building an intranet, one thing’s for sure: you’ll have to get creative.

Like PHSA, Barton Malow adopted a distributed authorship model, making each team in the organization responsible for their own content. Far from being a way to offload work, however, a distributed model requires careful management and many touchpoints. “I tried to meet weekly with operational teams—and we had about eight teams,” says Anna Cangialosi, Content Manager at Barton Malow. How did she convince them to regularly devote time to the project? “I broke up the project into chunks, so that we were tackling task-based work. I also planned meetings in advance and sent plenty of reminders. Our team offered help, too. We hired a couple of communication coordinators who could help with writing and editing.”

Anna mentions one more tip: food. “I set up two or three content migration sessions where we ordered food, and I sat down with the teams and helped them move their content over. I tried to make the process as fun, casual, and collaborative as possible, and in the end it wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be.”  Although some teams see content as a race to the finish line, it should never be “done.” Migration might be complete, but updates should be ongoing. I often suggest that content teams get clear on what they absolutely need for go-live and what can come later. Adding new sections over time is a tried-and-true technique to keep users engaged and returning.

Above all else, the key is ensuring that the content you have at go-live helps people do their jobs. A king, after all, should serve the people.

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