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TechnologySep 18, 2020

Content Management and Digital Collaboration: Where Do We Start?

Ibrahim Nagib

It's not unusual to see a successful organization struggle with content management and collaboration. Systems and processes that have been traditional mainstays within a smaller team no longer hold up as teams and organizations continue to scale.  New approaches are now required to meet the demands of collaboration in the digital age.

Emailing files back and forth or even using a system like DropBox or OneDrive on its own is not an efficient way to approach digital collaboration and can cause persistent user confusion and frustration. A well thought out approach to content management can translate to more productive and collaborative teams within an organization. Ultimately, why is this so important to an organization and what factors are responsible for true success?

content management assessments

At Credera, our approach is to always use user-centric and user-driven principles. There is no "one-size fits all" when it comes to content management and digital collaboration. Every organization and every team within the organization serves a different purpose. Each group has a specific use case for how a content collaboration tool should be built and tailored.

In this blog post, we're going to outline the preliminary steps every organization or team should take to determine their best content management and collaboration approach. Teams need to take their size, needs, security standards, and functions into account as part of this process.

Although most teams want to hit the ground running when upgrading or improving their enterprise content management and digital collaboration needs, it's important to take a step back and start with an assessment phase. Because our approach focuses on content-driven design, it's fundamental to begin with organizing and cataloging existing assets and resources. The system needs to handle the type of content the team wants to share. Without an initial assessment, teams may realize they are stuck putting content into containers that are not necessarily the best fit for their content.

our key assessment considerations & questions:

1. Make the right data available to the right people at the right time:

  • Where is the data located?

  • Who needs to access the data (read, write, edit)?

  • When do users need to access the data?

2. Device and location agnostic:

  • What is the use case for the collaboration portal?

  • Will users need to collaborate remotely on any device?

3. Metadata and version history:

  • What metadata is important to the organization?

4. One-stop shop:

  • What other systems and tools are being used?

  • Is there any overlap in tool functionality?

  • Is there any opportunity to streamline the number of tools used by having one tool perform multiple functions? We only want to keep the tools that are absolutely necessary.

  • Integrate with other systems and tools to turn the collaboration portal into a one-stop-shop for all users.

5. Collaboration:

  • What content needs to be available for ideation and iteration?

  • What type of collaboration/ideation does the team engage in? Are there any tools like a digital whiteboard or real-time collaborative document editing that would help the team be more efficient with their time?

  • How well do the collaboration tools and methods support remote working?

6. Security:

  • Who needs access to what, when?

  • Will there be a single source of truth for defining access security? Can permissions be managed in one, central location and then cascade down to other tools?

  • Is there a way to group items with similar permissions? We want to avoid document level permission management whenever possible.

content collaboration envision phase

Following an initial assessment of the current collaboration platform and the needs of the organization or team, we spend some time iterating on different designs to provide the best user experience (UX).

  • Incorporate lessons learned from the assessment phase into wireframes and UX mockups to be reviewed by teams.

  • Think through end-user experience, functionality, and layouts.

  • Design components based on discussed data.

content collaboration development phase

Following the envision phase, the team puts together a backlog of prioritized tasks and estimates time and level of effort in order to efficiently start building the solution.

  • Utilize an agile approach:

    • Create a backlog of development tasks, estimate time and levels of effort, and prioritize.

    • Work in sprints, utilizing scrum, daily checkpoints, and agile methodology.

    • Frequent check-ins and demos to ensure all stakeholders are aligned.

    • Incorporate user testing and validation at the end of each sprint.

  • Build custom solutions for content management and collaboration:

    • Analyze who owns the content and how often is it updated.

    • Does the content change? Will today's solution be sufficient many months down the line?

Most of our approaches utilize some mixture of out of the box (OOB) functionality as well as customizations and custom solutions that make sense for the particular team or use case we are trying to solve. During this stage of the process organizations much decide what OOB functionality we can leverage and what and when do we customize. There are always two sides to customization—you get exactly what you want, but you need to maintain it. We’ve outlined the pros and cons below.

When to customize?

Pros:

  • Complete control of functionality.

  • Complete control of look, feel, and styling.

Cons:

  • Manage code—need to make sure someone can update code, frameworks, or functions regularly.

  • Manage data and any back-end services being used by custom code.

How to customize?

  • Create abstract components.

  • Build dynamic, multipurpose solutions.

  • Data-driven—the data should drive the solution.

simplicity and scalability

As you think through a new approach or an update to how your team or organization handles content management and collaboration, keep in mind that simplicity and scalability are key. Keeping the tool simple will incentivize users to use the tool and refrain from emailing files back and forth or using systems that don’t keep records of changes or version control.

At Credera, we approach every content management and collaboration solution with the client needs and use cases in mind. If your organization needs help implementing a content management and collaboration solution, then please don’t hesitate to reach out to us at findoutmore@credera.com.

Find the rest of our insights from this series:

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