Magazine article Online

Top 10 Tips for Ensuring Content Integrity

Magazine article Online

Top 10 Tips for Ensuring Content Integrity

Article excerpt

THE role of the information professional is changing. Increasingly, the emphasis is more on managing information than searching for and finding it. In today's world, the Web and software programs such as Microsoft Word make it easy for anyone, information professional or not, to create and edit content from any location. However, the more people who touch the content, the more its integrity and accuracy are at risk. As information professionals, there are a few tips that you can apply to help minimize that risk, and many of them involve technology--specifically, content management systems.

A content management system is a software program that helps an organization consolidate, store, and use content in the most efficient way possible. As opposed to thinking of content as books, documents, or Web pages, professionals who use content management systems think of their content as useful chunks of information. In a single-source content management system, each chunk of content is stored only one time in a repository. Authors can then reuse and repurpose that content to build what ever they need--Web pages, reference manuals, PDFs, project reports, research packages, CD-ROMs, you name it.

THE TOP 10

When working with content, my "Top l0 Tips for Ensuring Content Integrity," listed below in reverse order of importance, will help you protect the accuracy of your content--whether you are creating it, editing it, reusing it, reorganizing it, or just storing it.

10. Look Outside

Re-evaluate your editorial and production processes to identify areas in which your content's accuracy may be compromised. It's often hard to be objective about processes when you're very close to them. Therefore, when reassessing your content-handling processes, don't be afraid to look outside your department for help. Although it may feel like an intrusion at first, a consultant who specializes in data analysis can provide an objective review of your processes and suggest helpful improvements. If you are already using a content management system, your vendor may be able to provide good insight.

9. Criticize Positively

If staff members are too afraid to point out a flaw in the system or admit a mistake was made, then the flaws and mistakes will never be corrected and your content's integrity will suffer. Create an environment in which employees feel comfortable making suggestions and identifying problems. Make sure your reactions to those suggestions are calm and constructive, even if you disagree with their suggestion or are addressing their mistakes.

8. Hire Well

Good people do good work. It sounds obvious and slightly cheesy, but a competent information worker with diligent attention to detail is much less likely to make a mistake that would compromise the accuracy of a project than one who is less attentive to detail. Accurate workers maintain accurate content.

7. Involve Staff

Keep your staff informed about changes to workflow processes, software/tool selection, and training so they understand the goals of the project and will feel "on-board" from the beginning. Also, solicit their input about the project since these changes will directly affect their productivity and efficiency. Staff members who feel involved in decisions are more likely to invest quality time and effort into their work. …

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