Designing content process and workflow for large rewriting projects

Good content process and workflow is how good work gets done

Good content processes are all about getting the work done, quickly and easily. It’s the “people” part of rewriting content, and outlines how people will interact with each other as they work together to get the content revisions ready for publication. Good workflow helps people through well-designed technology interactions that make the content revision process even easier.

Note: This is part 3 in a 4-part series, and follows
rewriting content for large websites and intranets and
building the right writing team for large rewriting projects.

Process and workflow refers to the tasks and technology involved in getting the work done, the decision and review points, and overarching governance for the content rewrites. In this context, process refers to the overarching set of activities that take place and workflow refers to activities that take place within a specific technology solution.

What good process and workflow does for rewrite projects

Effective process and workflow enables content development to happen efficiently. It improves the quality and reduces the time and costs.

Designing and adhering to effective process and workflow are critical in all major content development or revision projects. Inefficient processes jeopardize quality, cost, and timeline. It’s always better to invest in the time at the beginning to set the stage for a smooth-running project.

Limitations and risks associated with process and workflow for rewriting content

The biggest risk associated with process and workflow for large rewriting projects is not having them defined. Without a standardized process to follow, people will naturally develop their own processes. These are likely to be inefficient and difficult to manage, and they will result in content of poor quality.

If you haven’t already defined and established content processes and workflows you will need to design them. It’s important that these are developed by somebody who has experience in managing large content projects, with input and feedback from the writing team.

If you do not have the expertise in-house to design effective content processes, then you can assign this task to the person you hire as managing editor. Be sure to ask them about their experience in this area during the interview process.

How to design and implement effective process for rewriting content

  • The managing editor, or other senior-level content expert, should facilitate cross-functional discussions and process design workshops.
  • Be sure to include every stage of the content lifecycle necessary for a successful outcome.
  • Start with best-practice content process diagrams and then adapt them to the specific project and team requirements. Involve the writing team and any content reviewers if possible. These process diagrams show everyone how the work gets done.
  • Develop RACI charts and/or swim lane diagrams to show the various roles and responsibilities throughout the process. These will communicate who does what, when.
  • Have the writing team and project sponsors review and validate the processes and RACI charts or swim lane diagrams.
  • Begin using the processes on a small scale, with the intention of refining them before applying them to a large, long-term project.

How to design and implement effective workflow for rewriting content

  • Start with having your processes already defined.
  • Identify your technology options for content authoring, and the advantages and disadvantages of each option. Authoring options are technologies in which the writers will rewrite the content, such as a content management system (CMS) or MS Word.
  • Identify your content workflow options, and the advantages and disadvantages of each option. Workflow options are technologies that indicate the status of a specific piece of content within a process, effectively moving it from initial source content through revisions, reviews, and approvals, and into publication. Some CMSs have workflow capability, and your organization may have other options, such as Jira, in place. Gather Content acts as both an authoring and workflow technology. In some cases, a Google Sheet will work just fine to track certain parts of the workflow.
  • Choose a workflow platform that is within budget, easy to use, and automates as possible.
  • Customize the workflow to align with your identified process stages and roles and responsibilities.

Who’s responsible for doing the work of process and workflow design?

The managing editor of the writing team should define or refine the content processes and workflow, in communication and collaboration with writing team members and content reviewers and approvers.

Anyone with the necessary expertise to customize the authoring tools and technology workflows can do this, under the direction of the managing editor.

Anyone who knows how to draw process and workflow diagrams can do this, under the direction of the managing editor.

Next steps in effectively rewriting a substantial amount of content