Get a good grip on your content management process by following the content management lifecycle.

The management of content has been a challenge since people invented new ways of sharing information through books, documents, web, social media and other content containers. More people create more content, and thanks to the web more people have more access to more content. Just think of the many emails we receive daily and the millions of websites, social media networks and weblogs where we share content worldwide.

Phases in the Content Management Lifecycle

Content management (CM) is the process of planning, developing, managing, deploying, preserving and evaluating all content within an enterprise. Content management helps control the explosive increase of content by using it effectively. As any human being has a lifecycle, so has content: from the beginning (creation) to the end (retirement). Also, the process of content management has its lifecycle. This CM Lifecycle consists of six phases: plan, develop, control, deploy, preserve and evaluate.

content management lifecycle

It All Starts with the Business Process

The business process is the inner circle of the CM Lifecycle to emphasize that it's the reference for any phase in the content management process. Content management has to meet one or more business goals. Each phase in the CM Lifecycle has to be aligned with these goals. So continuously ask yourself the question if what you’re doing in the CM project still meets the business goals. If not, have the courage to change the project or even end it.

business process

It's not a coincidence that I put the business process in the center of the content management lifecycle. Everything in this lifecycle -- from planning to evaluating content -- has a direct link with the business process. If what you do in your content management lifecycle has no alignment with a business process, stop doing it!

phase 1-plan

In the planning phase, the current situation and the requirements are analyzed and quantified. In this phase, the content management strategy is aligned with the business objectives.

In my opinion everything in your content organization -- the content management, the content governance, the content tooling, you name it -- should be based on a content strategy. Why? Well, because your content strategy is a translation of your business goals and business processes. They are literally the “raison d'être” of your organization.

These are the things you can do in the Plan phase of the Content Management Lifecycle:

  • Analyze -- examine the business goal(s), business processes and requirements, and analyze the content and the content lifecycle.
  • Quantify -- define measurable indicators to decide in the evaluation phase if the content management strategy is successful.
  • Align -- match the content management strategy with your business goals and objectives.
  • Design -- develop your information architecture (content model, metadata, standards, workflow, interaction design, etc.) and install a governance policy.

phase 2-develop

Content can be created, edited, captured, collected or acquired in other ways. Metadata is added to give the content meaningful context.

  • Create -- author original content using editing tools, web forms and rich media tools.
  • Capture -- convert and integrate a.o. paper documents, web pages, email, Office documents and scanned documents.
  • Collect -- collect content, perhaps through syndication, and order it into logical groups.
  • Categorize -- add metadata to organize, group or classify content according to its specific characteristics, enabling search and retrieval, reuse, tracking and reporting, routing or delivery.

phase 3-control

In this phase, content is stored, secured, optimized (for search, etc.), reviewed and approved.

  • Store -- deposit content into a content repository.
  • Secure -- assign roles-based permissions identifying who can read, create, modify, approve and delete content. An audit trail tracks access, changes, approvals and deletions.
  • Review -- examine and improve content for clarity, comprehensiveness, appropriateness, accuracy, findability, accessibility and usability.
  • Approve -- authorize or provide formal sanction for content publishing or delivery.

phase 4-deploy

Content is assembled and delivered to users using a variety of publishing mechanisms and channels. Content can be personalized to meet the needs of the individual user, and localized to reflect the regional, national, or cultural norms and brand values.

  • Assemble -- aggregate content into logical structures like documents and web pages beforehand or on demand.
  • Syndicate -- make content available to multiple subscribers simultaneously through rss, social networks, web services, etc.
  • Personalize -- tailor content to meet the specific needs of individual users.
  • Localize -- adapt content to make it appropriate for content consumers who speak a specific language or reside in a specific country or region.
  • Publish -- render or output content from a content management system into the desired delivery format.

phase 5-preserve

Protect valuable content from change or loss through archival storage and backup. Get rid of content that is outdated.

  • Archive -- store legacy content securely outside of the content management system to address issues of accountability and make content available for future use.
  • Backup -- copy or save content to another location in order to recover it in the event of system failure, human error or catastrophic loss.
  • Migrate -- migrate content from other systems or repositories to your content management environment or migrate your content to another system or format.
  • Destroy -- content that is no longer valuable for organizational, legible or historical reasons, can -- and sometimes must -- be destroyed. Make sure you can prove that these content items are actually destroyed.

phase 6-evaluate

This is the time to audit if content is still up-to-date, if users can find, access and use it, and if the content strategy or the goals need to be redefined.

  • Audit -- perform a systematic examination of your content management processes, technology performance, end-user satisfaction and customer satisfaction.
  • Measure -- Quantify and compare the audit results against the defined indicators in Phase 1 (Plan) to determine if the project was successful and to identify areas for future improvement.
  • Research -- investigate new technologies, tools, design and methodologies to identify next steps for your content management project.
  • Adapt -- adjust your strategy to address the results of your evaluation. Use this information to alter your plans for the next phase of your content management process. Return to Phase 1(Plan).

Download the CM Lifecycle Poster

I designed a CM Lifecycle Poster to share with your content team. Put it on the wall of your office and discuss it with your colleagues. Did you address all phases and activities in your project? I believe this poster helps you to create content management awareness within your team and other stakeholders.

Please send me your comments and your own opinions about the content management lifecycle and your experiences with the CM Lifecycle Poster. I'd like to share and learn.

You can download the CM Lifecycle Poster for free. (English, A4 format poster) (English, A3 format poster)

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