Five Steps for Consolidating and Transforming Your Content Library

content consolidation

What do people dread most about moving? For many, it’s the process of weeding through years of accumulated possessions and figuring out what to toss and what to keep. After all, who wants to bring useless clutter into a shiny new home?

When it comes to moving content from your old repository into a new smart content system, you may feel similar pangs of apprehension. However, we’re here to reassure you that it doesn’t need to be a painful or daunting task.

Over the years, we’ve honed the content consolidation process with our customers, like McDonald’s, Whole Foods, and Comcast, and created five easy steps that work for every content project, whether you’re tackling 100 documents or 10,000.

Content Consolidation Step 1: Take Stock

It’s impossible to know what to save or toss out if you don’t know what you have, so the first logical step is to create a content inventory. What does that mean?

Build a complete list. Ensure you cover your entire learning strategy, which means including content from all systems and platforms.

Be detailed. Include information such as content type, purpose, and intended audience, which makes it easier to spot redundancies, inconsistencies, and outdated information.

Categorize content. Think about how you’ll sort the information, i.e. by content purpose (onboarding, reference, training, job aids), format (text, video, image), age (current, outdated), audience (job roles, locations), and content owner (authors, editors).

To complete this first step, we recommend assigning ownership to the overall project. Enlisting someone who did not develop the content is a shrewd strategy, as that person can contribute fresh eyes and raise new questions about a document’s purpose, audience, and substance.

Content Consolidation Step 2: Purge and Prioritize

With your inventory list complete, you may be surprised to note how many documents are out of date or incompatible with the new content system. Now is the perfect time to determine what to cull or de-prioritize. Ask these salient questions:

  • What are the key pieces of content we want to keep as-is?
  • What content should we focus on adapting?
  • What people and skills do we have today to do the work?
  • What roles do we need to fill in order to dedicate enough time and skill sets to our knowledge management efforts?

Every team has resource constraints, so take the time to think about how you can prioritize efforts based on your team’s current and forecasted capacity and the amount of content you’d like to move over to a new system.

Content Consolidation Step 3: Design

With prioritized content in hand, you can focus on design. The best way to start is by considering what learning moments you want to deliver. What does the journey look like for each user persona? This design exercise will help reveal insights into a new content architecture and identify gaps in the current inventory.

It’s also the perfect time to standardize your design across all content. Chances are, you’ve stockpiled content created by dozens or even hundreds of people over many years. At this stage, gather design requirements (brand guidelines, images, icons) so that every piece of content in the new system is consistent and on-brand.

And, while you’re refreshing content, think about modernizing it to match today’s learners. Aim for “microlearning” via interactive bite-sized chunks of information, which research shows is best for user retention and engagement.

Content Consolidation Step 4: Phased Approach

It’s unlikely that all content needs to be launched at the same time. Think through immediate needs versus what can be phased in. Make decisions based on what content your audience needs on a daily or regular basis, what’s tied to critical business results, and internal milestones or events you can leverage to announce updated content.

As a general rule, tackle the tricky stuff last. This approach provides time to test the content process with easier materials first, work out any kinks and incorporate feedback, and avoid overwhelming your team. Instead, early wins will bolster confidence and energy around the project, especially when you delight employees with essential content that’s refreshed and interactive.

Content Consolidation Step 5: Iterate

Iteration is the name of the content game. You want feedback from the initial launch because it helps adjust your approach and plan future phases accordingly. And never forget: incremental changes over time to content, design, and process is a good thing, if for no other reason than to help you avoid ever doing this whole process again!

We also recommend including feedback loops in your content and governance processes as much as possible so you can ensure efforts lead to tangible benefits. Feedback comes in many forms, both quantitative (reading/content usage stats, employee surveys) and qualitative (talking to people in the field for feedback and anecdotes).

Celebrate Your Big Move

There’s no denying that moving your content home is a big task, but with these five steps in mind, you can accomplish the feat without breaking a sweat.

However, if you start to feel panic creeping in, Inkling’s Creative Services team is here to help. Our team of experts has guided numerous customers through this process to bring sanity to the inventory exercise and deliver beautiful new content.

Once your legacy content is sorted, modernized, and happily residing in its new home, you’ll know it’s time to invite everyone over and break out the champagne.