Content workflow is a sustainable website project management process by which content creators and stakeholders turn an idea, story or topic into a consumable form of media that provides value to the consumer. The content workflow process may include generating ideas, writing text, selecting imagery, and creating media, as well as approvals, translations, legal review, scheduling, publishing, distribution, and promotion. Content workflow may be used for one-time website creation or revision as well as ongoing content creation for blogs, newsletters, social media, or other forms of publications.
Achieving Content Planning Workflow Efficiency
Although website project management may look very different in teams of 2-3 vs. teams of 5 or more, it’s always important to have a clearly defined set of phases and tasks that consider your content types and requirements. Whether you do all of the process tasks yourself or delegate them out, you will need to develop a clear picture of where each step fits in the process.
Here is what an efficient content workflow process can do for you:
Efficient Usage of Resources
Creating content through web project management is always a function of time and money resources. It is easy to view traffic generated by organic search as recurring and free, but this is simply not the case. The cost of creating content is always in play. When creating your content strategy, you should have already defined your budget in time and money. Align your workflow in such a way that you can estimate time and money costs for each part of the process so as to calculate the total cost of a single produced and promoted piece of content.
Just like in the manufacturing industry, having an assembly line where each step in the process is highly optimised, results in a reduction of time and money for your content and content workflow. Look for areas of inefficiency including excess waiting times, a less-than-optimal grouping of tasks and approvals, or opportunities for increased delegation. Once you have streamlined your assembly line process, you can then look to increase or decrease the cost in time, and money spent on each part of the process to achieve budgetary requirements or quality standards.
Creating a Content Workflow Plan
The project manager is the key stakeholder in the content workflow process. This person may have additional duties, but is ultimately responsible for developing the content workflow plan, executing on that plan, removing friction, obstacles or redundancies, and identifying opportunities for optimisation.
Here is our methodology for creating an optimal content workflow.
Identify Goals, Requirements, and Constraints
It is important to have well-defined goals that will allow you to build a content workflow process that best supports those goals from the start. Understanding requirements such as quality, quantity, topic coverage, word counts, and article lengths help you estimate and allocate resources. Be aware of your constraints as they will ultimately place restrictions on your goals and requirements. We recommend starting with a list for each of these 3 factors to help direct the content workflow plan.
Create a list of every step in the content creation process including idea generation, writing, graphic design, proofreading/editing, approvals, translations, scheduling, publishing, and promotion. Once you have identified the steps that will satisfy all of your stated requirements, begin to order them. Take note of which steps must precede or follow others as not to create backtracking or unnecessary revisions. For example, don’t perform a translation before the original is approved – otherwise, you will waste time redoing the translation.
Determine the Purpose
Identifying key stakeholders for the entire process is important, as someone’s got to be the decider. These people will be responsible for interim and final approvals, conflict resolution, vote tie-breaking, as well as any other high-level decision-making tasks. Allowing your process to have too many stakeholders can spell disaster. We recommend selecting one person who has the final word — with the possibility of buy-in from 2-3 other stakeholders — for any piece of content.
List Your People
Identify the people you already have to cover each of the defined tasks and decide whether you may need to assign or hire additional resources or provide training. Make sure not to exceed any of your constraints during this step, as your human resource costs will most likely form the bulk of your total content expenditures.
Create a Visual Diagram
You may find it helpful to diagram your project management workflow using symbols to represent key personal, tasks, or phases in the content assembly line. Once you have added symbols, order them and draw connectors between them to indicate flow. Try and make the workflow diagram linear with as few circular patterns as possible. If a piece of content returns to the same person (excluding the project manager) multiple times, you may have a mis-ordered or redundant workflow.
Define your Starting and Finishing Points
It is important to understand your true starting and finishing points for a piece of content. Ask yourself where does a piece of content really begin; in the brainstorming phase, as a request from a director, or from and SEO manager? Likewise, you should also know when you are really done working on it. Do you plan to promote your content after it’s created on social media or other channels? If so, you may want to consider adding these steps to the overall workflow- especially if they occur for each piece of content.
Diagram User Flow
Diagramming user flow through a site that supports your content, purpose, and audience will help to improve the user experience. Creating diagrams allow you to plot actual paths through the site from page to page by visitors. You may uncover unexpected dead ends, excess clicking, or other navigational issues. Your diagram may include separate paths for different types of audience members.
Order Tasks by Project and People
Assign people to tasks and look for ways to group and slightly reorder tasks. This will reduce handoffs between people and make it easier to cover more of their tasks without interruption. You may need to play around a bit with the groupings and orderings after some real-life trial and error as things don’t always work as outlined on paper. Don’t feel constrained by the first plan you create, be free to test and optimise as you see fit.
Build in a Process for Revisions
Most certainly, you will find the need to do revisions, especially if you are chiefly concerned with content quality. Be sure to work in branching points in your content workflow so that if a revision is needed, the people in place know what to expect. Those changes that have little or no effect on future steps can be grouped and addressed all at one time. Do not to proceed if your next steps rely heavily on a prior task that needs changes.