As the quantity and complexity of RFXs your team handles increases, you probably feel like you’re struggling to keep your head above water. Whether you’re searching through a disorganized SharePoint to find answers to a complex security questionnaire or sending yet another follow-up email to a subject matter expert, it can feel impossible to keep things straight.
There is a way you can make your work week less stressful: get your whole team to use your shared content library. Top organizations already know how valuable a single shared source for content can be. A well-implemented content library helps organizations:
- Streamline production and make work easier
- Keep content consistent
- Respond to RFXs, faster than before
However, getting everyone to use your content library is easier said than done. To help you out, we’ve compiled some helpful guidance on getting your team or organization to use your content library. These strategies come straight from our team of Qvidian content experts who have 20+ combined years of experience partnering with teams to implement highly efficient, robust content libraries for organizations of all sizes.
To successfully get your organization to use your content library, follow these three fundamental strategies:
- Explain the overall benefits of your content library
- Clearly communicate how you have organized your content library
- Make sure your content library is usable and trustworthy
Strategy #1: Explain the benefits of your content library.
If you’re already using a content library, then you know how beneficial it can be to your organization. However, your other coworkers might struggle to see the bigger picture.
As any organization knows: implementing a new process, product, software, or tool can be a huge undertaking. People are used to what they’re already using, are saddled with heavy workloads, and lack the broader reasoning of why this new thing is important. But, as an expert: that’s where you come in!
Your first goal is getting team members to understand the importance of using a content library. We recommend breaking it down into a few key points:
- It’ll streamline your work process, making your job easier
- It’ll keep the whole organization consistent and on-brand
- It’ll give your team more time for other responsibilities–or a break!
Think about your average team members’ workflow. As they work on an RFX response, they’re likely grabbing some information from SharePoint, copying and pasting from your website, and messaging SMEs for more information. When content lives in multiple locations, it takes more time and energy to find what you need.
Explain how content libraries eliminate this constant searching by serving as a single source of truth for your organization’s content needs. When all content is stored in one place, you’ll waste less time searching for answers and more time crafting winning responses.
Content libraries keep everyone consistent and on-brand
Your organization has multiple teams working on unique projects. While these projects might differ for each team, they use some shared pieces of content. Maybe they’re both citing key metrics or highlighting company values. Whatever it is, you want every proposal or presentation your organization puts out to look and feel consistent.
By pulling all your content from a single shared source, you ensure that every team’s documents include the same facts and figures and are presented in a consistent and unified brand voice, helping you win more business.
Content libraries reduce risk and support compliance obligations.
Content libraries can help you to efficiently and effectively navigate complex compliance or regulatory risks (strategic, financial, operational) and project risks (cost, performance, schedule).
By maintaining a consistent and current library, the content used in proposals and RFP responses aligns with your corporate guidelines, thereby reducing the risk of non-compliance and driving accuracy and accountability. Further, the application of library content access controls and approval workflows helps you to minimize the risk of unauthorized content use and data breaches.
Content libraries give you more time to work on strategic and competitive responses.
If you’re routinely responding to RFPs, RFQs, and DDQs, or crafting any other type of response document, you know that sometimes the work can feel…monotonous. You’ll likely spend a significant amount of time copying and pasting responses or rewording previously answered questions for a new audience.
Content libraries help eliminate mundane tasks and give your team more time to focus on personalizing sales documents and work on maintaining the content they use most often. By storing key information in a central location, answering commonly asked questions is as easy as clicking a button. What used to take hours of work now takes minutes, freeing you up to work on more strategic projects!
Strategy #2: Clearly communicate how your content library works.
Now that you’ve clearly communicated how important your content library is, you’ll have to let people know how it works. Your team members might understand why a content library is helpful, but if they don’t understand the finer points about using your library, they’ll never fully get on board.
Make sure that everyone who uses your content library understands as much as they can about it: what content lives in the library, how the content is organized, and all its features and functions. This means spending time thinking through content organization, user permissions, and training.
Decide what content lives in your library.
Before populating your content library with all types of records, reports, summaries, snippets, images, and other key content pieces, decide what content will live in your library. While your final goal is to ensure all the content your team needs lives in your library, realistically, some pieces will get left behind.
For example: your team might decide to store everything your sales team needs to build proposals in your content library. This includes key company metrics, lists of services provided, and corporate-approved product descriptions. However, your HR team is responsible for updating employee biographies and currently updates those elsewhere, with a long-term plan to eventually move them into your content library!
Deciding ahead of time what content lives where will avoid confusion when onboarding new team members. A great way of communicating what is and isn’t in your library is to create a document outlining these rules and save it to your library. That way, whenever any user has a question, they can refer to your publicly available guide for where your organization stores specific resources.
Content pro tip:
Improve your content visibility by including links to external content as content records in your library. If a piece of content lives elsewhere in your organization, include a document in your content library clearly outlining the location of the file and which teams are responsible for maintaining that content.
Set up appropriate user permissions.
Sometimes, seeing less is more. When new sources for content are implemented, users can get overwhelmed by the sheer volume of records. Usually, this happens because an organization genuinely wants to improve transparency and access to content. However, while this starts with good intentions, it can result in users struggling to find content amidst a sea of irrelevant records.
Instead of allowing everyone to access everything, establish clear and consistent user permissions. By creating permission structures, you will help team members focus on their work and not get overwhelmed by unnecessary content.
Content pro tip:
You might find it helpful to outline what content each user type can access and store as a record somewhere in your library. Additionally, you can add specific instructions on how users can request access to additional content records. This way, users have a better idea of what type of content is in the library and how to gain access to it when they need it most.
Limit the number of places your people can access content.
Want to know the quickest way to get organization-wide adoption of your content library? Limit the number of places your organization stores content d. While this might feel controversial in the short run, it’s critical to long-term success. Your team won’t be as efficient if content records are stored in SharePoint, Google Drive, or, worst of all: an employee’s personal computer.
As you populate your library with content and increase the number of employees using and accessing the library, you’ll want to ensure your library is always consistent and up to date.
When content lives in two places, it has a higher chance of being inaccurate and leading to organizational confusion. Storing critical information in two places means one team member might be using an older file while others use a newer file with the current information.
Team members might push back at first, but the more they use and find relevant content in your library, the better their overall experience will be.
Content pro tip:
When you share content internally with a coworker, always link back to the file stored in your content library. This ensures content doesn’t live in two places while also reinforcing that they should always look in your library for future content needs!
Schedule routine training.
Don’t leave your employees high and dry when implementing your library. Without proper (and consistent) training, your employees will likely revert to old habits, turning to other content sources and decreasing the overall value your content library can bring.
This means setting up robust onboarding courses and hosting frequent sessions where your users can ask questions and get answers. Make sure to partner with whoever your software provider is, as most providers offer training courses, certifications, and free question-and-answer sessions.
Strategy #3: Make sure your content is usable and trustworthy.
For the final strategy, you’ll have to face one harsh truth: it doesn’t matter how much you communicate if the content in your library isn’t usable and trustworthy. Your entire organization can be completely on board with your content library, but if they see out-of-date or inaccurate information, you’ll quickly lose their buy-in.
Content should follow these three basic principles:
- It’s brand-approved and formatted correctly
- It’s up-to-date content using current data
- It’s labeled, organized, and tagged appropriately
Only store brand-approved and correctly formatted content.
Every piece of content stored in your content library should be approved and correctly formatted. While it might be tempting to store working documents in your library, other teams or coworkers might view it as final and use those versions instead.
Additionally, make sure that you format all your content correctly and include brand-approved language. Content that is incorrectly formatted can make it even harder to incorporate into your next response document or proposal.
Content pro tip:
Store your company brand guidelines in your content library so users can easily access it. Next time users need to update a presentation or piece of content, they can easily find the brand guidelines without leaving your library. This will make it easy for them to see how to properly use your logo(s), fonts, colors, and graphics, along with grammar and language.
Keep content up to date.
Picture this: you’re working on a proposal, and you’re already crunched for time. You’re almost finished, but you need just a few more data points. You search your content library, find a relevant record, and go to add it to your proposal only to see the last update date: 2015! Sound familiar? You’re not alone.
Proposal teams often struggle with outdated content. This type of disruption can bottleneck your proposal response as you waste valuable time searching for updated and accurate answers from SMEs.
The easiest way to keep content current is to develop a consistent content review schedule that works for your organization.
What your content review cadence looks like will largely depend on your organization and the type of content you’re storing in your library.
Ask yourself these questions when determining a schedule:
- How often does our content need to be reviewed?
- 30 days?
- 90 days?
- 180 days?
- Should we review after every software release?
- Should we review after new financials or filings?
- Should we review after new certifications/audits?
These types of questions can help you zero in on a review strategy that works for your specific needs. For good measure, you also want to decide what metrics trigger a content review, archive, or deletion.
Think about building review triggers based on
- How often content is modified
- How old content is
- How often content is used
If your content library has the functionality to set up expiration dates and workflows, use them. Set up your reviews in advance and ensure you’re starting the review workflow far enough in advance of the content’s expiration date to keep the content current.
Keep content organized.
Your goal is to make your content library the ultimate source of truth and the one-stop shop for all your organization’s content needs.
Everyone will have a different strategy for organizing their content, but here are some of the things you’ll want to consider:
- How do you organize your content overall?
- By business unit/division?
- By product/service?
- By region?
- By language?
- By document type?
- How many folder levels will you allow?
- How many records can be in each folder before a new one is needed?
- How do your team members search for content, and how can you make it easy for them to find what they need?
To make sure this happens, we recommend uploading all final content pieces your team will need to your content library. Then, once a content piece has been uploaded to your library, continue to edit and update it from there. By doing this you’ll eliminate any possibility that two of the same documents exist at the same time.
Content pro tip:
Make sure to take full advantage of your content library’s internal features. Running a duplicate content report, viewing similar content statistics, or sorting records by date last updated can help you find old and redundant content.
When used correctly, your content library can become your organization’s most valuable resource. However, maintaining a content library takes a lot of thoughtful work, detailed communication, and commitment. As you store more content in your library and the number of users accessing content increases, your whole organization will save valuable time and resources, helping all your teams win more business.