We are exploring a fairly unique space in the content management field known as component content management (CCM).
In layman’s terms, CCM is the technical authoring, versioning, and management of detailed documents. For example, auto manufacturers not only build automobiles. They also provide user and technical manuals for the consumer and the service and support professionals who maintain the vehicles. These technical documents are managed by subject matter experts who provide specific input to the documents. They may make edits for a variety of reasons.
The purpose of component content management
Typically, the purpose of books or novels is to inspire or engage readers. Usually written by a single author, the goal is to share content for the enjoyment of the reader. Contrarily, the primary purpose of CCM is the transfer of information. This content is usually written by multiple authors, and the information can be consumed by both people and machines.
CCM is best suited for information that has no plot other than to inform. Consumers are not expected to read the entire contents cover to cover. The content is structured as reference material. It can be segued into multiple documents and mediums. Consumers can then easily ascertain information for decision making purposes.
The value of component content management
The immediate value of CCM is producing quality content quicker. Disseminating information is a crucial aspect for both commercial and government authorities. CCM provides a centralized method for producing, approving, and disseminating content.
CCM provides organizations the ability for their information to reach a broader audience. In today’s multi-channel communication environment, consumers want choices. Above all, they want convenience and mobility. CCM provides both by allowing information to be reused and repurposed in both analog and digital formats. The value in digital formats have significantly improved because CCM enables greater accessibility for both people and machines.
Lastly, organizations using CCM see more value through knowledge transfer. CCM breaks down barriers between subject matter experts and consumers.
The benefits of component content management
There are both intrinsic and extrinsic benefits to CCM. The intrinsic benefit is better quality material because of greater collaboration between the subject matter experts and technical publishing teams. The extrinsic benefit is a unified corporate message that is well-structured. It also improves customer satisfaction and reduces risk.
Consistency and content reuse are the most significant benefits to CCM. Reflecting on the volume of information that typical organizations produce, the amount of content reuse averages from 15% to 80%. In almost all cases, content reuse happens as part of statements of fact. Statements of facts appear repeatedly in many different documents. Examples include product specifications, terms and conditions, and warning statements.
Any automotive manufacturers’ content contain reused statements of facts about performance and power. Financial institutions’ content contain reused clauses from contracts and policies. All government entities’ content contains reused information relating to rules, guidelines, and laws. In each case, consistency counts. Consider the legal implications if these statements of fact were inconsistent. Consider all of the places where these statements of facts are reused. Multiplying that by the number of times this content is translated. This can give you an idea of the potential consequences of inconsistent information.
Format and accessibility are other aspects of consistency that CCM addresses. We know WYSIWYG editing used in modern day word and office-based processing tools brought style to content. While they made it easier for anyone to produce and disseminate information, they introduced complexities in automation. Instead of subject matter experts focusing on writing content, they worry about formatting. Otherwise, they have to pass the burden to technical publishing teams. This introduces new bottlenecks to information dissemination.
Component content management makes life easier
While CCM introduced a few challenges with the best authoring tool, it dramatically reduced much of the rework to support multi-channel publications. In return, this brought tremendous cost savings to organizations. Now subject matter experts can focus specifically on what needs updating. This reduces the technical publishing teams’ burden to format on the fly into the multiple mediums.
CCM provides the ability to introduce digital content assembly and analysis via Electronic Data Interchange. CCM isn’t just about statements of facts that people author. It is also about the ability to introduce data where the output can be reused or repurposed. This can even facilitate direct information transfers to other machines or processes.
Steve Studer and Jon Solove contributed to this article.
Intrigued? Find the other posts in The Value of Structured Authoring and Component Content Management series.