I have written about the “three gears” that are the core components of workflow. Here are 17 questions that any content marketer, publishing-related start-up or publisher can ask to help prepare for a change in workflow.
In asking questions, you want to define what you have in place, identify where it is working and where it is not working, and document the things you need to do in the future (near-term to mid-term) that you aren’t doing or can’t do now. The kinds of questions that can help at this stage include:
Process (How Things Get Done)
- How is content typically created?
- What is the cycle time for creating basic content (weeks, days, hours)?
- How well does the current process work? This is a chance to look for frequent errors, rework, the ability to meet schedules and the ability to meet current requirements.
- What changes in expectations do you anticipate in the next couple of years?
Technology (The Tools Used To Create, Manage and Distribute Content)
- What tools are used to create, manage and disseminate content (InDesign, Quark, Word, etc.)?
- Do you have a content management system (CMS) in place?
- If you do have a CMS, how long has it been part of your workflow?
- Has the CMS met your expectations?
- Do you have other systems in place? Digital asset management and web content management systems are typical.
- If you do have other systems, how are they linked to the CMS?
- How has your technology set-up changed in the last few years?
- How do you think your technology needs to evolve?
Organization or Structure (The Roles People Play)
- How are the people doing content-related work organized?
- Have the roles changed at all recently?
- Is any work outsourced?
- How do you interact with any outsourced suppliers? An example could be content conversion performed in India vs. someone co-located in a publishing operation.
- What organizations are able to do work you would like to emulate?
In gathering information about how work is currently done, you can also get a sense of how deeply your staff has thought about workflow issues and how ready they might be to undertake a change.
You don’t need to go hog-wild asking questions like these. Try to have a conversation, take notes and then back-check against a list like this to see if there is anything missing. The more time a team spends talking about workflow, the better.