My Content Fail Realized

For the past 18 months I’ve been working on rebuilding the website for Olympus of the America’s Medical System Group.

We did a reasonably good job in discovery and define (four months) and configuring our Drupal based site (four months), but we haven’t yet launched.

This week I had official Regulatory approval (it had been previously reviewed, but not submitted through our compliance process).

With the ability to go live I had people say, wait, I never approved this content.

This one threw me for a loop. It also upset me, alot.

Without question the biggest challenge on this project was people and more specifically, people recognizing that this was an important project that needed their time and attention. I think we were good on the first half, but not so much on the second.

We tried requesting information. When that failed we tried populating information for them (taking from any sources we had available including from our European counterparts). When they saw that we had grabbed content from elsewhere some were not happy, because the markets and regulations are very different between here and there.

Finally we sat down and edited pages in real-time. Over two eight hour days we met with four business groups in four hour blocks. Three of us sat down with product teams in each group and edited pages on our laptop, while showing the refreshed updates on another. Once the team told us the page was good, we would move on to the next one.

We did the same with three more teams in another location.

Since we didn’t complete all the pages during the sessions, I held ten follow-up meetings either in person or via WebEx to finish the review of the pages.

This work concluded at the end of April at which time Regulatory reviewed every page on the site.

I was then told that we had to conduct usability testing, which had originally been taken off the table at the beginning of the project due to costs. This delayed the launch by another month.

Then we had the official submission to our Regulatory review process and this also took an additional month.

When we were ready to launch, two months after the last person reviewed content and now nearly five months after some finalized their review. I had people saying they never approved content.

I don’t understand how someone can say they never approved content when they had reviewed a page, said it was good and moved on to the next one.

I was asked for documentation showing that each content owner had signed off on each page. I didn’t have it. I had meeting dates and invites, but no sign-off per URL.

I was not happy.

Yesterday, a Friday, we had summer hours. I left at 3 and despite the high heat and humidity in the northeast, I went out to my garage and began painting the wood for the Adirondack chairs I was making.

As I painted and the sweat poured off of me, my mind was free to drift. It was during this time that I realized my biggest mistake on this project was failing to utilize the built in content workflow of the web CMS during the site build.

We built the site to have different content states and different user types with access to different states depending upon their role. During the build we by-passed this process to get work done quicker.

We were able to get things done quicker, but we had no record of why we made which change and who initiated it. Had we have used the built-in workflow, we would have had it.

Now I have to go back to the beginning and assign each page to an owner, have that owner go into the system, review content, approve and or edit said content and submit to a publisher if there are no changes and re-submit to regulatory if there are.

I’m hoping this doesn’t take too much time, but I’m afraid I’m probably looking at another 6 to 8 weeks.

So if you are engaging a website project with many content owners (I have about 50) be sure to utilize your workflow in order to hold individuals accountable and document the hard work you are doing.

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