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Managing Content and Knowledge

  • ID: 42693
  • Report
  • October 2001
  • 172 pages
  • American Productivity & Quality Center, APQC
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Content management is the system to provide meaningful and timely information to end users by creating processes that identify, collect, categorize, and refresh content using a common taxonomy across the organization. A content management system (CMS) includes people, processes, and technology. Content can include databases, documents, presentations, or e-mail—virtually any artifact of transactions or dialogue or creative work, inside or outside the organization. But this is more than just documents or presentations; content also includes audio clips, streaming video files, and animated graphics. Increasingly, content management needs to address external content (news feeds, subscriptions to data and analysis, and publications) and content from the extended enterprise (suppliers, customers, vendors, consultants, and external sales). Users want to be able to access internal and external content from the same system and with the same queries, yet still want to know the source of content because it is one way
they determine if content is useful or trustworthy.

Why do we talk about content management as a system, not as technology? All organizations are requiring employees to do more with less; reducing the time it takes for workers to gain access to answers is even more critical with the ever-increasing emphasis on speed. But content management technology alone doesn’t help this problem, because its focus is typically only on getting more information in front of people—not necessarily the right information.
Content management technology and work flows support a digital publishing process; when they are good, they eliminate online publishing bottlenecks and optimize the reuse of media and content. Content management technology has very little to do with determining the quality or the effectiveness of the information presented. The technology used by study partners was not, in itself, a distinguishing feature of success. Content is much more than data or information; it is knowledge that has been codified (i.e., an investment has been made to make it explicit) so that it can be more easily distributed and reused for a specific business purpose by a targeted audience.

Its value is realized only when people use it to make better decisions for the organization. So, from a KM perspective, the real question for content managers is not “What content do I have?” but “What content do I need?” And what is the best way to get it? Only when these questions are answered, does it makes sense to find technology to enable the digital flow? In an ideal world, content management would be the nerve center for the enterprise
information infrastructure by coordinating the creation and acquisition, management, delivery, and expiration of content across all business systems. As an aggregator, the CMS technology should be able to piece together content from disparate systems and applications into meaningful artifacts based on unique requests. The CMS system should be able to manage the content from these systems, assemble it based on the needs of the content recipient, and publish the information in whatever format is required. That is the ideal world; the reality is that most organizations have a wealth of information in a variety of repositories ranging from databases to file servers to individual laptops, which are owned and managed by a variety of functions for a variety of purposes. Just plugging in a technology solution is unrealistic. These needs can only be addressed through a systems approach, meaning an integrated system of people, processes, and technology.


APQC studied, in detail, 10 organizations that were determined by our screening criteria to be effective in content management. We refer to these exemplars as “partners.” All partners—and 11 of the 17 sponsors—completed detailed surveys about their objectives, challenges, and solutions as related to content management. APQC conducted visits, face-to-face and virtual, with five of these partners, in which sponsors also participated to observe operations. Those five were selected because of the maturity and success of their content management systems. The detailed data collection and site visits focused on the following specific aspects of content management systems:

1. Building a business case for a content management initiative
- Identify the indicators and need for a CMS.
- Audit existing content to determine what needs to be managed.
- Determine the goals for the content management initiative.

2. Designing a content management system
- Understand user requirements.
- Identify sources of internal and external content.
- Design a taxonomy and metadata approach.
- Develop processes to author, validate, and refresh content.
- Identify and define the roles and support structure required to implement and
maintain a content management process.

3. Delivering the content
- Identify users that would benefit from the content.
- Develop applications.
- Compare personalization to classification.

4. Maintaining content
- Protect intellectual capital assets—legal and risk issues.
- Assess the content management process.
- Analyze costs associated with content management.

The remainder of the report provides details on the components of an effective
content management system; the process for designing and implementing a system;
how content management and knowledge management relate; and the processes, roles, and organization structure critical to achieving success. Some of the highlights of the consortium findings, as well as characteristics of the partners’ content management systems, follows.

Objectives of the Content Management System Study partners and sponsors had many objectives for their content management systems. Figure 1 shows the percentage of partners and sponsors selecting an objective as one of their top two objectives. Although partners are more likely than sponsors to select “customer satisfaction or service” as a top objective, partners and sponsors are quite similar on other objectives. Partners kept the customers in mind while designing their CMS, even though most of the applications are
not customer-facing. Although it is aimed at getting the right information to employees at the right time, the ultimate goal is a happier customer.
Partners indicated that they have been successful at the top four objectives, but that they do not have measures of how well they make decisions. Some of the
less important objectives, such as improved quality of content and reduced costs of managing and delivering content, were frequently cited as benefits achieved through the CMS.

Relationship of Content Management and Knowledge Management Study partners were selected for the maturity of their content management systems and not necessarily because of their knowledge management systems. Yet, 60 percent
of partners and 82 percent of sponsors report that they have a KM strategy or approach in their organization. For many partners, the content management system existed before their knowledge management efforts (Figure 2, page 10). For sponsors, the concept of knowledge management is rapidly expanding to encompass getting information, insights, lessons learned, experts, community peers, training, and other knowledge resources to knowledge workers with appropriate approach. This expanded definition of KM is one of the driving forces for seeking a more robust content management system, and the CM system design reflects some of the needs revealed by KM. Only 50 percent of partners reported an explicit relationship between knowledge management and content management.


From collaboration with sponsors and partners, through surveys and site visits, APQC discovered some overarching themes and findings. The following findings will be covered in more detail in the body of the report. Organizations considering a CMS, or in the midst of developing one, should be encouraged by the results and experiences reported by the study partners. They have achieved significant levels of improvement in processes, service levels, cost reduction, content quality, and customer and user satisfaction.


Because content management is a system, not just technology, this report examines the work flow, processes, roles, change management, and technology used in the real world. The investments and results are also addressed. Because selecting content

management software and vendors is a major task, a companion report, APQC’s
Content Management Vendor Assessment, further details the features available from vendors as of mid-2001 to enable content management. The purpose of this report is to guide the successful design and implementation of content management systems by understanding options and critical success factors
and learning from leading organizations. In the remainder of this report, we will explore what partners have learned about positioning, creating, and sustaining a content management system; support structures they have created; technology; enablers and challenges; and results.
- Chapter 1 covers what an ideal content management system would include.
- Chapter 2 addresses how partners developed their business case for a content
management system.
- Chapter 3 details how to design and implement the system by reflecting the
choices, decisions, and best practices of the study partners.
- Chapter 4 explains the structure and roles—centralized and decentralized—to
support a CMS.
- Chapter 5 details the technology approaches and features that are realistic and how they may be integrated to provide the technology support for a content
management system.
- Chapter 6 details the investment and costs associated with partners’ content
management systems, for start-up and on an ongoing basis.
- Chapter 7 reviews the results of the partners’ content management systems,
success stories, and measures used.
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- Sponsor and Partner Organizations

A listing of the sponsor organizations in this study, as well as the best-practice (“partner”) organizations that were benchmarked for their innovation and advancements in managing content and knowledge.

- Executive Summary

A bird’s-eye view of the study, presenting the key findings discovered and the methodology used throughout the course of the study. The findings are explored in detail in following sections.

- Study Findings:

An in-depth look at the findings of this study. The findings are supported by quantitative data and qualitative examples of practices employed by the
partner organizations.

- Partner Organization Case Studies

Background information on the partner organizations as well as their innovative content management practices.
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