I want to start my blog with a series of posts looking at the “content lifecycle” and writing about what the various parts of that lifecycle can mean within an enterprise.
I’ve seen many portrayals of the lifecycle, but here is an image that I find useful to show the parts of the lifecycle as I see it.
First – I know that the image isn’t perfect as the “cycle” portion of the lifecycle should be apparent but my graphics (in)ability leaves me with a simpler graphic to discuss. Ideally, the”Reuse & Update” stage should feed back into the “Enhancement & Review” stage to show how there’s a feedback loop.
Now, a bit about the stages (I will be posting some more thoughts on how each stage can happen in an enterprise in future posts):
- Creation & Capture – In this stage, new content is created and/or (depending on the business processes involved) “captured”. This is a very interesting stage of the lifecycle as it can occur in many different ways, using many different tools. and the “Creation & Capture” stage can look like the entire lifecycle all by itself. It is this latter observation that leads to the most confusion and uncertainty I see among content owners and creators. More on that later.
- Enhancement & Review – In this stage, the content can be enhanced in many ways, including transformation to a standard template (for documents and possibly for web pages), breaking apart into constituent pieces to enhance re-usability, cleansing of the content and tagging of it using a taxonomy. The intent is to make the content more valuable for users.
- Distribution & Publication – In this stage, the content is made available through a variety of channels. For a web page, that might be to physically deploy the file containing the page to a web server, replicating data in a database, etc.; also, navigation to the page will become available. For a document, that might be to change the state to a “published” state that makes it available in a repository or other system. Commonly, a single piece of content might be made available through multiple channels.
- Use – The purpose of the lifecycle! through the above stages, the content has been made available for others to use. The consumers might be visitors to your web site looking for product information, making a purchase or finding out information on your company or organization. Consumers can be your partners looking for information about your solutions or access to other partners with whom they can work. Your employees can be another consumer, who might be looking for HR information, documents from prior projects to re-use or information about other employees who can help them solve a problem.
- Navigation & Search – I highlight navigation and search here because those are two primary tools available to consumers to discover and interact with the content.
- By “navigation“, I mean the user discovering or encountering content via clicking on links through web pages or in a web application to get to the content; I would include “guided navigation” in “navigation” though I know others include it as a type of search.
- By “search“, I mean a specific functionality where a user can define a set of criteria to define a fairly arbitrary group of content for which the user is looking. The criteria can typically be defined through a combination of selecting values from predefined “pick lists” and entering arbitrary keywords (which might be used to search specific “fields” of the content or might be used to search any/all fields or the full-text of the content).
- Feedback & Evaluation – All of the work done to make content available will commonly need to validated through understanding the value of the content. This can be determined in many ways, including metrics (downloads of documents, web page views, etc.), end-user ratings (allowing visitors to rate the content using a predefined measure such as “…out of 5 stars”) or direct survey of target consumers of the content. These steps help the content owners and creators understand how valuable consumers find the content, which, in turn, can help them understand what could need some improved visibility, what needs to be improved, and also what can be archived.
- Reuse & Update – In this stage, the content is re-used and transformed into another piece of content (a business process I see as fairly common in a consulting organization) or updated (generally driven by insight provided through the “Feedback & Evaluation” stage). The net result is going to be a new piece of content (re-use) or a new version of a piece of content (update), which will be created, enhanced, published and hopefully used by consumers.
- Expire / Archive – The end of the lifecycle for content. Content can either expire (is expiration date passes and the content becomes unavailable to general users even while it might stay physically available in the same system) or can be archived (removed from the system completely and available through other backup means). Sometimes, content might be expunged, where it’s removed from the system and is not archived – it’s simply physically deleted and no longer available.
Enough for now – I am looking forward to posting some more detailed thoughts on the various stages in future posts and will return to this one to provide linkage once I do so.