Portland Oregon It’s the most magical time of the year—Confab Intensive! About 500 content strategists are in Portland, Oregon, this week enjoying three days of hands-on content strategy workshops. You can follow the fun and check out hundreds of Tweets with great content tips, quotes and photos at #ConfabInt.

Day one was amazing! My favorite workshop was about content workflow and governance. Whoa, those sound like really technical and sort of boring topics… But it’s actually fascinating stuff. Our professors were the co-founders of Content Strategy Inc., Kathy Wagner and Melissa Brekke.

They started by defining what we were there to learn about: “Content governance provides a framework for content decisions, roles and responsibilities.”

If you’re building a content team or creating a content strategy plan, that framework is going to become incredibly important when you begin creating content. Like everything in content strategy, there’s no one-size-fits-all approach. But Kathy and Melissa offered five pillars of governance and questions to ask yourself to help you begin defining and documenting your framework.

The five pillars of content governance:
1. People – Do you know what skill sets are needed to achieve your content vision?
2. Success metrics – How will you know if your content governance is working?
3. Decision-making and support – What decisions need to be made? (from high-level leadership goals down to what do content creators need to work better?)
4. Processes – What processes and variations are important in the content lifecycle?
5. Information systems – What content problems does your business have that information systems and technology could help with?

People
When you’re creating your content team, think about assigning the following roles:
• Responsible – people who actually create the content (writers, designers, videographers, etc.)
• Accountable – people who approve the content work
• Consulted – subject matter experts
• Informed – told about the content after its been published

You can use this model to assign roles for types of content (blog posts, white papers, videos, educational web pages, etc.) or by content channels (company blog, company website, Facebook posts, customer emails, etc.) You could also pilot this idea with a new content project. Take the time to assign all the roles to the right people.

Content Success Metrics
Most content strategy plans now have metrics for measuring the success of the content against your business or marketing objectives. Your content governance needs similar metrics to measure its success. Create business success metrics, like improving your content process or aligning with business strategies, and employee success metrics, like providing clear roles so content creators feel like they’re part of the bigger picture. Once you know your success metrics, celebrate your wins.

Decision-Making
By creating standards and guidelines for decision-making, you make things more strategic, consistent, sustainable and measureable. A content support tool communicates decision points that have already been made, or provides the strategies that help make it. Tools could be style guides, content templates, or creating a content team to review all content.

Content Processes
“Processes are a big part of governance. People need to know what they’re supposed to be doing.” It may seem tedious, but it’s important to detail the workflow of how different types of content are created at your company. Your workflow charts should show:
• Who will create and design the content?
• Who will review the content?
• Who will publish and maintain the content?

Kathy and Melissa advised starting high-level – identify your most common content scenarios, like developing blog content or developing content for translation. Don’t waste your time creating a detailed process diagram for infrequent projects.

Detailed processes may seem counter-intuitive to creativity, but having a process actually makes it easier to be creative. “Implementing processes gives people more time to do their part of the job, meaning your creative teams will have more time to focus on what they’re good at.”

Content Information Systems
Whew, this governance business is hard! That’s why so many companies have created information systems – technologies that support people to get the work done. These technologies could be content management systems (CMS), data asset management, project management systems, etc.

Technology possibilities are endless. Unfortunately, there was no silver bullet answer to the question: “What information system should I use?” However, an employee from Gather Content said his company has come up with a pretty great solution – one of which Kathy and Melissa also use. The company offers content planning, production and workflow software. Check it out to see whether it’s right for your needs.

Content governance is not for the faint of heart, but it is a key part of your content strategy plan. Don’t try to do it all at once. Pick one pillar to get started and share your successes. The more you show the value of workflows and standards, the more buy-in and support you’ll get.

If you want to learn more about content governance, Kathy and Melissa recommended the following books:
• The Basics of Process Mapping by Robert Denello
• Workflow Modelling by Alec Sharp

About Keesia Wirt

Keesia, sr. content marketing strategist at Two Rivers Marketing, is a self-proclaimed content nerd. Her favorite tools include audience personas, crochet hooks, whisks, and duct tape. If you want to talk content, email her at keesiaw@2rm.com.