A few years ago, Netflix debuted a show called Tidying Up with Marie Kondo. It was an overnight hit. Why? It might not surprise you to hear that Americans, Europeans, and presumably much of the world, sit on a lot of clutter.
Clutter in the home can lead to stress and anxiety. Clutter in the workplace isn’t any better. But what happens when what you need is hidden away in a basement or crawlspace—or inside a subject matter expert’s head?
When your household clutter is hidden and you can’t find the vinyl record you’re looking for, it’s annoying. When employees can’t find necessary information, the ramifications extend far beyond their immediate departments.
While Marie Kondo is not (at least that I know of) a content management expert, a well-curated and maintained knowledge management system breaks through the clutter to ensure that the right information gets into the right hands at the right time.
What is knowledge management?
Knowledge management, as defined by Slack, has four objectives:
- Capture knowledge
- Improve access to knowledge
- Enhance the knowledge environment
- Treat knowledge as an asset
Are organizations achieving their objectives?
- Employees spend an average of 19% of their time searching and gathering information
- Data professionals spend about 20% of their time rebuilding existing information assets
- 87% of employees want transparency in the workplace, yet only 18% feel their workplace is transparent
- Only about ⅓ of organizations leverage AI as part of their knowledge management strategy
A centralized knowledge management system is vital to an organization’s operations. A single source of truth, as opposed to scattered knowledge, provides:
- Organizational resilience and agility
- Faster and better-informed strategizing and decision making
- A greater ability to confront challenges and solve problems
- Faster and improved innovation
- Improved employee engagement, productivity, and morale
- Better sharing of subject matter expertise
- Enhanced collaboration
- De-siloed business processes
- Competitive benchmarks
- Improved security
- Increased revenue and profits
- A better customer experience
Creating and maintaining a content library
A content library is not a dumping ground for documents and data. Each entry into the content library should align with business goals and processes and help maintain legal and security compliance. All content should be up-to-date and relevant—a.k.a., used or at least usable.
Doing the content management heavy lifting
In the first of our two-part series, we discussed respecting your subject matter experts (SMEs), which means doing as much heavy lifting as possible.
With the end of the quarter approaching, this is a great time to audit existing content. Here’s how:
Be organized and keep track of your own work
I keep track of my work using an Excel spreadsheet. I list all the categories of content I will review, who my subject matter experts are, and how much content I have.
I also indicate how often to review the content. For example, a publicly traded company’s content requires quarterly review. The content might be owned by a content manager, someone in investor relations, or corporate communications.
If a company is privately-held, it might have some high-level information it provides on a quarterly basis, although many privately-held companies provide that information annually. If you don’t know how often to review your content, rely on your SMEs. They know the content the best.
Once the SME has provided a review schedule, you can track it on a spreadsheet or on a content management platform to establish review cycles.
Once you’ve established your review cycles, there are a few metrics you want to consider to show SMEs and leadership that your content is in the best possible condition, including:
You should do a few things to show SMEs that you are organized and ready for them. Build out a plan, including:
- Showing that you’ve removed unused content
- Showing that you’re focused on the most-used content
- Showing that you are organized
- Showing that you know how to distribute the content to be reviewed
- Testing your proposal automation and content management platform in multiple environments (office, home office, client’s site, hotel and airline wifi, etc.) to ensure stability
- If you are using a content management platform, leverage the review and reporting functionality
- Strategic tagging, especially if an SME has a lot of content to review (consult with your customer success manager before going into that level of detail)
- Engaging leadership at both the proposal and SME sides, so they know what you’re doing, what the SMEs are doing, how much work there is, and when it’s expected to be completed
- Recognizing contributors once the reviews are completed
Review most-used content first
The first step to an efficient content management system is pretty simple. However, you will need a lot of help from your subject matter experts to ensure accuracy. The key to maintaining a collaborative relationship with SMEs is to honor their time. Rather than hand them a mile-high virtual stack of content, sort by that which is used the most.
As a proposal manager, you know that RFxs aren’t exactly creative documents. Most questions are near duplicates of those you’ve seen 100s of times before.
So, if your organization doesn’t have content management software and you use SharePoint or Excel to track your content, you can still review the most-used content by seeing the Q&A pairs used on your last 2 or 3 proposals, or perhaps the previous 3-6 months.
You could even take your very first 2023 proposal, review every piece of content that goes into it, and call that your 2023 gold standard.
Review zero-times-used content
The next step is to approach content management from the other end of the spectrum—look at never-used content. It might be tempting to automatically archive or delete (I’m not a fan of deleting) all your never-used content, but that could be a mistake.
As with your most-used content, look at the last 3-6 months. Ask yourself this:
- Is some of the content relevant, but you haven’t had the time or an opportunity to use it?
- Is some of the content deal- or client-specific?
- Is some of the content product- or service-specific and something you might only need to use every 2-3 years?
- Was the content updated in the last year?
If any of your never-used content meets the above criteria, it’s a good idea to keep an eye on it during the upcoming year to see if it proves its value.
Keep your review/moderation queue current
Once you’ve completed your initial review, keep your review/moderation queue current by setting aside time each week and each month to work through your new and existing content.
Make sure you get content out the door and into the content library in its most accurate state as it is reviewed and updated through projects and SMEs.
Break down your content to achieve success
Now that you know which content is relevant or which might be relevant in the future, it’s time to think strategically about content and how to organize it. It might seem daunting, but it’s very manageable if you approach it in bite-sized pieces.
High-level groups of content
High-level groups of content might carry different names depending on your content management system. If you use RFPIO, those groups fall under “collections.” Others may refer to them as “folders.”
Regardless of names, collections or folders are great ways to begin to attack the content and look at its health as you enter a new quarter or year. You can organize the folders by solution, geography, language, product, etc.
If you added the information to your folders in the last 6 months, keep it. If the content was not used during that time, you can archive it. If you aren’t comfortable creating a periodical archive, you can create a holding tank (or parking lot) for content you want to make available to a limited number of people.
The holding tank will contain content that’s still relatively current but not locked down. Then you’ll be able to access that content and pull it back into the content library if used. If you haven’t used content in your holding tank or parking lot in 3, 6, or 9 months, depending on your review cycle, you can archive it.
Using the holding tank is a great way to strategically add content back without muddying your current content library.
If you have a way to export the content from a SharePoint site or existing non-RFPIO platform to an Excel spreadsheet, you can begin to run some pivot tables. Look for:
- Number of Q&A pairs in each collection or folder
- Number of times used
- Date it was last used
You can also run a pivot table on the zero times used content to see what was added and not used over the last 6 months vs. what should be archived because it’s more than 6 months old.
Report, report, report
Most leaders aren’t particularly interested in the minutiae of a content management review cycle. Still, they want to see results and a demonstration of continuing value, beyond just time savings, in your proposal automation system. That’s where reporting comes in.
Most proposal management systems contain built-in reporting features. Look for them if you are about to deploy a new proposal management solution.
The goal is to show that you have demonstrable time savings and that you are getting into the strategic benefit of the platform by showing that you can keep your content current, accurate, and fresh.
Reporting metrics should include the following:
- Time saved
- Accuracy of answers
- The number of people successfully using the system
- The number of people who can successfully access content that they may not have had access to before
Let leadership determine reporting frequency
Reports are how you substantiate the strategic benefit you’re getting out of your content management platform, so let leadership determine the frequency.
Most likely, they’ll say quarterly, although it could be monthly at the beginning and then quarterly after your first review cycle. Think of these reports in much the same way you think of the reports your proposal team has to create.
Be consistent and strategic
Stick to your reporting schedule, metrics, and format. Show leadership usage, review schedules, and recently updated content reviewed by your SME and polished by your proposal team and content manager.
Show these for each group of content, line of business, collection, geography, language, or however you organize your content. Be consistent in your format by nailing down your template at the beginning of the year.
Get feedback from the proposal leadership, SME leadership, sales enablement leadership, or, if your company is small to mid-market, from your C-suite.
Ensure that you’re reporting in a way that is valuable to them. Use that format every time you report. Executives and leaders like consistency; they also like graphics. Instead of a lot of Excel spreadsheets, use graphics such as charts or screenshots.
If, for example, you’re an RFPIO user, show leaders used vs. unused content for the annum and then quarterly going forward. You can also show them content that has owners, no owners, has been reviewed, hasn’t been reviewed, etc.
Explain to them why these things matter, and make sure all your content managers, SMEs, and leadership teams are involved in the reporting conversations.
If you use RFPIO or another platform that includes reporting functionality, you can take screenshots of your system reports and include them in your slide decks. Having that consistent graphic will be helpful for leadership, and it will show you the incremental and cumulative progress you’re making.
Also, it will show you when you need to start archiving content and maybe gaps where you need to add new content. RFPIO users can take screenshots of your content library insights report at the beginning of the year, then monthly and quarterly.
At the end of the year, the screenshots will tell a powerful story. Halfway through the year, you might start seeing gaps and areas you may need to improve upon, so by the end of the year, you can show where you spotted that and where you can make adjustments.
Monetize the value of time spent
Leadership likes to see that you’re flexible, nimble, and always thinking about best practices. Additionally, as you save SMEs’ time by reducing the number of Q&A pairs they have to review, etc., leadership will be able to put a dollar value on time saved.
For example, it takes around 3-5 minutes to review a Q&A pair. 10 of those at 5-minutes-a-piece saves 50 minutes of an SME’s valuable time—time they can spend with clients, prospects, doing demos, or other vital aspects of their day job.
If your company has some newer SMEs, content review is a great way to engage the new SMEs and make the time they spend learning the new system and products valuable to the organization.
Think about the next thing coming
As you know, content evolves. As you acquire new knowledge and content, be strategic. Don’t just start loading content to your newly reviewed content management system. Spend time with the content before you load it. Make sure it’s the right content for your content library—it will be used again…it has been reviewed…and it’s current, accurate, and comprehensive.
When you import the new content, identify who owns it, whether you work from a content management platform, a spreadsheet, SharePoint, etc. You also want to set the content up for success.
Tag the content, organize it, and put it in collections, folders, or however your system works. Additionally, you want to work with your SMEs to identify when that content needs to be reviewed—quarterly, annually, every 18-24 months, or when there’s a new product release.
Then use the sweet spot of 10-12 Q&A pair reviews per week to spread the content out in a way that’s easily manageable for your SMEs. Be mindful of the review work they already have assigned to them.
Technology-enabled content review
Keep your content current, accurate, and fresh, and set your SMEs and content review process up for success with RFPIO’s review cycle reminders, advanced reporting, and project management features.
If you would like to learn more about how RFPIO, with the help of machine learning, helps ensure best practices throughout your content review processes, schedule a free demo.