In many companies, big or small, different departments all have their own ways of putting content together. Very often, these departments are hardly communicating with each other, which results in lots of duplicated content and lots of confused customers. If you recognize this in your company, then you probably have entered the content silo trap. The way out of this trap is long and hard, but not impossible.

Content is often created and recreated in department silos that have difficulties communicating with each other. Employees fail to communicate, simply because they are so busy, chasing one deadline after another. Another reason is that the responsibility of someone overseeing the content across different departments is just not integrated into the organization or management structure. It’s what Ann Rockley, an authority in the field of content management, calls ‘the content silo trap’.

The cost of silo content creation

Content creation

Wrong content sometimes gets used and reused. A lack of consistency and standardization quickly results in incorrect information and unsatisfied customers. The cost duplicated content being created by multiple people, across multiple departments, and on multiple platforms, can therefore quickly add up. This is especially the case when translation into multiple languages is required.

When different authors are working on the same content without actually collaborating or communicating on a regular basis, then inconsistencies and errors are almost inevitable. Apart from the exasperation this causes with employees and customers alike, inconsistency is also costly to your organization. Just think of the increased customer support cost or damage to your carefully built-up brand image.

People and tools

Writing tools

Don’t let anyone tell you there is a silver bullet solution for the content silo trap. A silo organization often grows on a company like a bad habit. And as we all know, those are very hard to shake off.

The safest way out of the content silo trap is through a combination of people and technology. Which of the two is most important, is probably an irrelevant question. Your company might have invested in the most advanced and high-performance content management system, but if there’s no one to manage and operate that system, that investment is lost. On the other hand, even the brightest and most ambitious content manager might get dispirited if she is not supported with the appropriate technology.

Content ambassadors

Let’s start with the people. Different departments that are creating the company’s content should be interacting with each other. Your organization should have dedicated people to facilitate that process. You could have designated content ambassadors in each department who meet up with each other on a regular basis. Another option is to assign a content manager who oversees the content creation and review process across different departments. Either way, a content management role should be appointed in your organization.

Some larger organizations also assign a terminologist. This is someone who facilitates the editing and translation process of terminology and who ensures accuracy, appropriateness and consistency of usage of terms in the organization.

Content management technology

Technology can lend your content ambassadors a hand. A good Content Management System (CMS) for example will pay for itself in the long run. A CMS can help you manage content updates, collaborate better across departments, and make sure your content is adapted to different platforms. But before investing in a CMS for your department, it might be worthwhile to look over the silo walls and discuss content requirements across departments. If you fail to do that, you might end up in a technological silo before you know it.

Global companies will also benefit from a terminology management system. These systems help organizations make transcultural communication more precise, adaptable, efficient and easy. Today’s terminology management systems are web-based, collect terminology content in a central database, and make it is accessible to any online user.

Last but not least, a Translation Management System (TMS) automates and accelerates global translation tasks and greatly reduces the cost of supporting local language content.

Change is hard, but not impossible

Deadlines and the rush of the day sometimes compel us to quickly solve problems ad hoc, and to create content alone, in our own little silo. This is totally understandable, because it’s a way to solve things very fast. Collaboration, information exchange and communication on the other hand take time, but do pay off in the long run. Luckily there are organizational fixes and technology that can facilitate this process.

Technological and organizational changes might be hard to implement. They also require a vision from management and the goodwill of different departments to make it work. Yamagata Europe can help you see the forest for the trees, and help your company make the right decisions both on a technological and organizational level. So talk to us before making heavy decisions or investments. And if you lack the people or resources, we can be a partner in your content management process and support you with the right people and tools.