The cost of managing your content vs. same-old, same-old

Fig1CmapAboutCmaps-largeThe high cost of creating a management framework for content becomes quickly apparent. The effort, which can be messy and frustrating, requires not only a lot of an organization’s internal time and attention but also a fair amount of help from outside consultants. Just doing an initial inventory and creating a governance structure to move forward with proves painful, time consuming and expensive for many organizations.

The irony of course is that the cost of doing nothing — just letting everyone continue to write Word documents, PDFs and PowerPoints and make rapid e-learning courses on an ad hoc basis (again and again, based on the same or very similar content) — often proves far higher to the organization than the cost of change.

However, the cost of doing nothing, unless you audit it in sophisticated ways, is invisible. The wasted time, mistakes, duplication of effort and poor quality output don’t come out of anyone’s budget. The inefficiency is personal to employees and not counted anywhere as the organizational expense it is.

The larger and more sophisticated the organization, the greater the cost discrepancies become over time. When scope is understood to include communication and training around company policies, procedures, product and service documentation, work instructions, regulatory requirements and quality assurance processes (let alone topics like sales, marketing and investor relations), then the cost of doing nothing and the risks associated with doing nothing (or not doing enough) start to get high.

The risk and cost curves associated with not putting together an enterprise-wide content management framework trend up over time. The associated efficiency curves trend down.

At some point the lines cross.

As a training professional you would ideally have made your move before the lines cross. That’s the hope anyway. However, it is rarely the case. As a practical matter, it is only when senior management start to see the cost of content chaos that something happens.

3 Comments

  1. Thanks Jay, this is a great post. You talk specifically about compliance issues here but I’d say that the actual survival of an organization may very well depend on effectively managing this chaos. When organizations have a giant set of disconnected files that require tons of maintenance if there is a change or update, when they have no mechanisms for sharing or reusing content across multiple delivery modalities, and when they have no ability to effectively filter through volumes of content for rapid customization, they will never be able to cost-efficiently and in a rapid time-to-market meet the needs of their employees or the requirements of their clients or prospects. Unfortunately, many training organizations still operate in this manner, hence the explosive growth of the disposable rapid e-learning market that you mention. Is it any wonder training departments often struggles to gain a level of prominence within an organization?

  2. Dawn,

    So true. There is a real polarization between the “use once and toss it out” school of thought and the version control school. Growth in chaos is not a linear function — it all goes horribly wrong horribly fast . . .

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