Ann Rockley, literally, wrote the book on managing enterprise content with her seminal work, Managing Enterprise Content: A Unified Content Strategy, in 2002. At the time, the book helped launch an entire discipline and a call for organizations to view content as a corporate asset. In fact, some regard Rockley as the “mother” of content strategy.
Book review—Managing Enterprise Content
Now, 10 years later, the second edition of Rockley’s book is on bookshelves, and with it a decade’s worth of new information, ideas and evolved thinking around managing enterprise content. Rockley’s coauthor in the 2012 version of this 370-page tome is Charles Cooper, an executive with The Rockley Group, Inc. With roots in technical communication that include content reuse, XML-based content strategies, multi-platform information development, taxonomies, workflow design and digital publishing, both Rockley and Cooper are well qualified to help their readers learn and comprehend the principles explored in this rapidly-changing discipline.
What I like most about their book is how it’s organized. They indeed practice what they preach. The book is organized almost like a tutorial. Its five major sections walk the reader through a well-marked path:
- The basis of a unified content strategy
- Where does a unified content strategy fit?
- Performing a substantive audit: Determining business requirements
- Developing a unified content strategy
- Supporting your unified content strategy
In the book’s sixth section the authors include plenty of resources, including a comprehensive glossary and bibliography, and checklist for implementing a unified content strategy.
If you’re a content manager, content strategist or author, this book is meant for you. If you’re not in one of these roles, you’ll still learn a lot, particularly if you have experience working in organizations that produce marketing content, technical documentation or service information that’s being accessed by multiple stakeholders across multiple platforms, such as computers, printed documents, smartphones, and tablets.
According to Rockley and Cooper, “A unified content strategy is a repeatable method of identifying all content requirements up front, creating consistently structured content for reuse, managing that content in a definitive source and assembling content on demand to meet customer needs. A unified content strategy makes it possible to deliver content to any customer, anywhere, and on any device without having to rework the content at every stage.”
Rockley and Cooper spend the remainder of their book telling us how to achieve these results and avoid the potholes you’re bound to find along the path. For those that do succeed, the benefits of a unified content strategy are numerous: “Faster time-to-market; better use of finite resources; reduced costs; improved quality of content; and, unlimited device delivery.”
Written in a nonacademic style, this how-to book is easy to follow. Its principles and ideas can be implemented almost immediately. Case studies from actual companies in most of the chapters reveal how organizations have found success applying the principles the authors espouse.
Buy this book and keep it close by. It’s a must-read for the serious content strategy practitioner; beginner or advanced.
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