How do your in-country teams know when new content is available for translation? Do they have visibility of what’s being created, updated and removed?
This is one of the most challenging parts of keeping country sites in sync. So much depends on the quality of your CMS: if it fires out change notifications to all content stakeholders in the system every time someone changes a comma, you’ll quickly find that your stakeholders bypass these notifications altogether. They can’t be bothered to go through 100 emails to find the 6 or 7 that are really relevant for them.
There are two different types of change notification systems: one depends on process, the other on systems. And often, the quality of your process will depend on the quality of your systems.
So let’s start with processes. Stakeholders in country need advance notice of what content will become available. This gives them time to make key decisions for each content item: Should it be translated? Should we invest in it? How will it need to be adapted to meet local market needs?
Maintain a comprehensive content calendar
Maintaining a calendar of central source content is sometimes a challenge in itself. It helps for one person to be the owner of a comprehensive editorial calendar that covers as much of your company’s content activities as possible.
It’s also useful to divide your calendar into two parts: stock and flow. Stock content pieces are the ones with a reasonably long shelf life. Flow pieces are the ones that are published with a much higher frequency: blog posts, news stories, events. Editorial calendars are often focused on flow, as these items are often time-sensitive. They’re also more likely to be opportunistic, which means they’re sometimes last minute. And because there’s a time imperative, country stakeholders are often left scrambling to review and validate the flow pieces at the expense of time spent validating stock pieces with a higher long-term value. Having better visibility of all content simply makes it easier to plan.
A good comprehensive calendar typically handles new content and major content refreshes. However, smaller updates and, especially removals tend to fall by the wayside. This is when you need your CMS to be able to notify you of what’s been added, what’s been updated, and what’s been removed. It’s even better if your CMS can show you clearly which parts of existing content have been updated (by highlighting them, for example).
Keep tabs on new content, updates and removals
Even if your CMS is able to do this, the sheer volume of change notifications can make it difficult for stakeholders to absorb and act on them. A simple, weekly report where all changes are categorized and prioritized will help overcome this challenge. Make it clear to countries what they should tackle first. Provide references to a change ID number, so that your stakeholders can easily find the reference in the system and/or in their emails.
Of course, calendars and reports are great tools, but they need to be communicated effectively with your teams. Monthly content calls, hangouts on internal social networks – whatever your method, make sure you have the right level of human contact. Quarterly, monthly, weekly: decide what will be most useful for your needs, without overdoing it.
Our next post will tackle system notifications.
This post is part of our series on '7 things that make it harder to manage your multinational websites'.