The ability to control and streamline workflow and collaboration is one of the most significant benefits of adopting a content automation platform. Helping people work together and effectively manage their tasks is the starting point for improving content creation to consumption. This is because business-critical content requires the contributions of people with different skillsets and responsibilities from across the organisation and across the globe. And as the volume and complexity of workflows required to support multi-channel communications increases, effective workflow and collaboration become paramount.
The Old Way: Centralized Publishing to Print
Many organisations today continue to rely on outdated content processes designed for centralized teams publishing primarily to print. These processes don’t account for the realities of today's dispersed workgroups creating, managing and distributing content to multiple formats.
Reliance on the methods and tools of this bygone era causes a common set of problems, placing a heavy burden on everyone trying to keep up with increasing demands. Here are some of the issues that you might experience without an adequate workflow and collaboration system:
- Reliance on e-mail, which leads to shuttling files back and forth, a process that is rife with errors, wastes time with endless edit and review cycles, and reduces productivity
- Version control issues that result in time-consuming searches for the most recent version, use of the wrong version, and time wasted recreating lost or missing content
- Compliance risks due to a lack of audit trails as to who changed which content and when, which version of the content was published, and not knowing if all content is current and compliant
- Ineffective project management, including an inability to alert contributors that they have new tasks, lack of visibility on project progress and status updates, as well as manual reporting
- Linear workflows that limit content and design editing to a single user at a time
- Separate groups for different media (print, online, and mobile), which leads to content duplication due to manual implementation for each media type, slowing the process and introducing room for error
- A disconnect between publishing systems and other business systems, which creates bottlenecks, slows down the publishing process, and reduces everyone's productivity
Effective Workflow and Collaboration
To successfully support today's dispersed teams to multiple formats, you can use workflow and collaboration tools to improve communication and productivity, apply project management to your content lifecycle, and deliver higher-quality communications at a lower cost.
Workflow management systems, also called business management systems, enable organisations to define different workflows for different processes or documents.
A workflow system not only eliminates manual effort by automating tasks such as sending out reminders, but can also automate checkpoints to make sure that every required step happens. For example, you may want to generate a PDF automatically at the start of a review cycle. Or, after all approvals are complete, you may want to initiate an automated publishing process to your website.
Organisations may choose to use dedicated workflow systems or utilize the workflow capabilities of other products such as content automation platforms or content management systems.
Any good content automation platform should include the following workflow and collaboration features as standard:
- Notifications – send notifications via email or other means to remind users of upcoming approvals or tasks that have been assigned to them
- Role-based access control – Some business-critical content may be sensitive and therefore the access to that content needs to be controlled. This should be controllable not only at a document level but at a content component level so access, editing, reuse, review and approval of content can be controlled granularly. For example only allowing the legal team to update legal copy within a document
- Enable multiple users to work and contribute simultaneously to a single project and provide real-time updates of content and layouts – no matter where they are located
- Comprehensive version control
- Management of the entire review cycle
- Dashboards to provide managers with visibility to ensure workload is balanced across all resources as well as see where projects are in the process
- Allow for custom implementation of automatic processes
- Integrate with existing business systems