KM Component 19 – Content Management Process

Stan Garfield

Stan Garfield

July 29, 2021

A content management process includes creating, managing, distributing, publishing, and retrieving structured information: the complete lifecycle of content as it moves through an organization. Managing content is a key discipline not unique to knowledge management, but is definitely related. 

Components of a content management process include creation, presentation, information architecture, infrastructure, and governance.

If your organization produces and maintains a large quantity of documents and presentations, internal and external websites, or recordings and videos, then a content management process will be important for ensuring that content can be collected, delivered, used, maintained, and deleted effectively. And a related content management policy may be required to specify how content is created, stored, reused, and archived.

In the context of a KM program, content management should be applied to documents, methods, and templates stored in standard repositories. It especially applies to the creation, submission, and management of reusable documents. The goals are that content is presented in a consistent format; is reviewed and approved before being made available; can be readily found through browsing, searching, and notification; and is regularly reviewed, updated, and retired.



Content management is an inherently collaborative process. It often consists of the following basic roles and responsibilities:

  • Creator – responsible for creating and editing content.
  • Editor – responsible for tuning the content message and the style of delivery, including translation and localization.
  • Publisher – responsible for releasing the content for use.
  • Administrator – responsible for managing access permissions to folders and files, usually accomplished by assigning access rights to user groups or roles. Admins may also assist and support users in various ways.
  • Consumer, viewer or guest – the person who reads or otherwise takes in content after it is published or shared.

A content management system is a set of automated processes that may support the following features:

  • Import and creation of documents and multimedia material
  • Identification of all key users and their roles
  • The ability to assign roles and responsibilities to different instances of content categories or types
  • Definition of workflow tasks often coupled with messaging so that content managers are alerted to changes in content
  • The ability to track and manage multiple versions of a single instance of content
  • The ability to publish the content to a repository to support access
  • The ability to personalize content based on a set of rules

HP Content Lifecycle Stages

  1. Content creation/authoring
  2. Content workflow/approval
  3. Content store/repository
  4. Content translation/localization
  5. Content transformation
  6. Content provisioning/distribution/syndication

Deloitte Content Lifecycle Stages

  1. Create or enhance
  2. Acquire
  3. Process
  4. Publish
  5. Disseminate
  6. Maintain
  7. Retire

Erik Hartman

  1. Organization/Information Architecture/User Centered Design
  2. Creation/Capture/Acquisition /Aggregation
  3. Storage/Repositories
  4. Workflow/Roles/Editors/Casual Contributors
  5. Versioning/Version Control/Templates
  6. Publishing/Delivery/Multi-Channel/User Testing/User Experience
  7. Archives/Retention/Preservation/Destruction

Bob Doyle

  1. Organization/Information Architecture/User Centered Design
  2. Creation/Capture/Acquisition /Aggregation
  3. Storage/Repositories
  4. Workflow/Roles/Editors/Casual Contributors
  5. Versioning/Version Control/Templates
  6. Publishing/Delivery/Multi-Channel/User Testing/User Experience
  7. Archives/Retention/Preservation/Destruction

Don’t automatically archive content

Knowledge repositories often are configured to automatically archive documents after some predetermined period of time. The intent is that after content has been available for 90 days (or whatever duration is chosen) it is no longer current, and thus should be removed from the repository. The assumption is that this old content should not appear in search results or in lists of available documents. Reasons include:

  • Old documents are no longer relevant, accurate, or useful.
  • Searches yield too many results, so weeding out old documents will improve user satisfaction with search.
  • Content contributors should refresh documents periodically.

Contributed content does not automatically become obsolete after a fixed period of time. It may remain valuable indefinitely.

I offer the analogy that just because Peter Drucker died in 2005, we don’t remove his books from the library. His insights will continue to be useful for a very long time.

One firm where I worked had an automatic archiving process. As a result, I would often receive messages from frustrated users who were searching for content that they had previously found in the repository but could no longer find. I would have to restore this content from the archive to the active repository. This caused users to be annoyed with the KM program, resulted in a lot of wasted time and effort, and sometimes delayed the retrieval of important information needed for client work.

With the cost of mass storage steadily decreasing, there are few good reasons to remove content from knowledge repositories unless it is known to be outdated, incorrect, or useless. Instead, allow search engines to limit results based on dates and other metadata to help users more easily find the content they need.

Don’t automatically archive content in a knowledge repository, threaded discussion board, or other collection of knowledge. Instead, ensure that the search engine can limit results by the date of the knowledge object. Defaults can be set to limit results to the last 90 days, one year, or whatever duration is desired. But it should be easy for users to change the date range to include older content in the search results.

Enable content to be tagged with “recommended” or “good example” or “proven practice” by an authoritative source, and by users with a “I reused this document” or “I found this useful” button. Then allow searching by date, tag attribute, most-liked by users, etc.

See also:

Stan Garfield

Stan Garfield

Please enjoy Stan’s additional blog posts offering advice and insights drawn from many years as a KM practitioner. You may also want to download a copy of his book, Proven Practices for Implementing a Knowledge Management Program, from Lucidea Press.  And learn about Lucidea’s  Inmagic Presto and SydneyEnterprise with KM capabilities to support successful knowledge curation and sharing.

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