by Ann Rockley, The Rockley Group
Prepare for and Calculate Your Return on Investment
Return on investment (ROI) is the anticipated savings after subtracting the cost of implementing an intelligent content strategy. The savings are future savings and are used to determine if implementing an intelligent content strategy is appropriate for your organization.
Identifying the pain (costs)
Begin by identifying the pain points in your organization. Here are some of the more common ones and the ways in which you can identify what these pain points cost you. Ask yourself these questions and quantify the costs.
Content is often difficult to track, and it’s even more difficult to determine what is the latest approved copy.
- What does it cost you when someone accidentally uses/copies an old version?
- How much time is spent looking for the most recent version?
- What does it cost to manage multiple parallel versions of content?
- What does it cost to manage multiple similar, but slightly different, versions of content?
Costs of version control can be addressed through version control in the content management system.
Managing regulatory requirements
Ensuring content meets regulatory needs is critical, yet managing regulatory requirements within product lines, across product lines, and across regulatory agencies is difficult.
- What does it cost to create multiple versions of content to meet different regulatory needs?
- What does it cost to update content in many different locations?
Costs of managing regulatory requirements can be addressed through:
- Reuse (write once, use multiple)
- Version control
- Content models (identification of the structures and organization of content for each regulatory agency so that content can be automatically restructured in preparation for specific regulatory changes)
Products are global and their content must be as well. Changes and updates must be reflected in each language.
- How much does it cost to translate your content?
- What is the cost of change (standard change, last minute change)?
- What does it cost to manage content in multiple channels?
Costs of translation can be addressed through:
- Reuse (write once, translate once, reuse translated content where appropriate)
- Workflow (content management)
- Automation of digital publishing (reduction or elimination of layout costs)
Note that organizations that translate their content can often realize their project ROI in 18 months or less if they translate their content into more than four languages. This makes translation and reuse a very important number to calculate.
Every statement must be backed up by a claim that supports that statement. Content can easily become separated from its associated claims resulting in a repeat of the claims validation process.
- What does it cost to ensure that every claim is correctly tracked?
- What does it cost to keep track of claims in similar/parallel content?
- What does it cost to make changes to claims?
Supporting claims costs can be addressed through:
- Metadata (metadata can be added to each claim that references it to the appropriate supporting information)
- Reuse (write once, support claim once, when the content is reused the supporting claims information goes along with it)
Content is typically published and managed in InDesign. Changes are made in InDesign and duplicate changes must be manually tracked and made in multiple places.
- What does it cost to publish your content to InDesign?
- What does it cost to publish translated content to InDesign?
InDesign costs can be addressed through:
- Treating InDesign as an output only (source is never managed in InDesign; source is managed in the CMS)
- Automated XML to InDesign structured templates
Multiple device publishing
While print is the primary vehicle for labeling content, the use of the web and mobile devices is growing. Marketing content must be multichannel.
- What does it cost to publish to both the web and multiple devices?
- What does it cost to change content across multiple channels?
Multiple device publishing costs can be addressed through:
- Treating devices and channels as output only
- Taking content from a single source and automatically converting the content to the device (uses stylesheets to transform the content from the source to the device format)
It is important to look at revenue opportunities, not just cost savings. Many times authors create content on a part-time basis. If you can free up some of their time they can do their “real job.” This is also true of reviewers.
For full time authors, freeing up some of their time means they can do more for the same cost. This is like getting free resources. You may also experience a resource shift where existing resources take on new roles and responsibilities.
What are the numbers?
Calculate the following numbers to assist you in developing your ROI.
- Average salary cost to use to show reduced costs and increased resources.
- Percentage of reuse to calculate reduction of time to create, manage, translate, and publish content.
- Investment cost:
- Structured authoring tools
- Content management system
- Consulting to assist you in moving forward quickly and avoiding the pitfalls
- Conversion, if you plan to convert legacy content to structured content
Lifesciences and healthcare companies can realize a significant return on investment when moving to an intelligent content strategy.
Return on investment is calculated by subtracting costs from potential savings. Note that you should calculate your ROI over a minimum of a three year period. The first year is spent doing design work and potentially a pilot project. The second year is spent getting your project fully up and running as well as converting content. Savings are realized in the second year and are usually fully realized in the third year.
Ann Rockley is the Founder and President of The Rockley Group.