What do many major organizations have in common? A content problem.

Even for the most digitally advanced organizations, writing content to scale is a tall order. Delivering a small piece of content, such as procedure steps for a job aid, is a relatively simple task — a “one and done.” But is it really done? What happens when demand grows, and that “one and done” piece of content needs to be implemented in different formats to meet the needs of multiple audiences, roles, education levels or devices? This is what we like to call the Content Explosion, which presents a major problem for organizations trying to produce and deliver content at scale.

The Content Management Formula

This formula illustrates how scale causes content management demands to increase exponentially.

N = New content that needs to be created. Creating this content is what most people view as the main function of the learning organization.

E = Existing content that needs to be maintained. Updates are inevitable and ensuring content accuracy is critical to long-term organizational success.

D = Derivatives are types of delivery modes, audiences, languages, etc., that need to be produced. Derivatives can quickly cause your content pieces to multiply.

M = Maintenance of all content variations. The level of effort for maintaining content can vary significantly depending on how easy it is to find, update, and republish.

W = Total work required. The man hours needed to effectively create, manage and maintain content increase exponentially with scale.

The Chaos of 'Copy / Paste'

Does any of this sound familiar?

Content editors create a list of procedure steps in PDF format for a certain audience. People start using the PDF and demand starts to grow. Suddenly the same procedure need to be included in a PowerPoint for instructor-led training. Not soon after, a request comes in asking for those same procedure steps to be part of a larger eLearning course.

This starts the tedious process of copying and pasting. But the chaos doesn’t end there. As the content is then requested for different audiences, regions, roles, and different education levels, the bigger the problem becomes.

The Challenges of Scale

  • Managing versions and source files

  • Maintaining consistency

  • Eliminating repeated effort

  • Getting timely, actionable feedback

  • Translation / localization

  • Customization

  • New modalities / publications

  • Keeping track of published content

  • Understanding learners and usage

Enter the Content Explosion Problem

procedure steps

Original Document

Delivery Outputs

Localized Iterations

Distributed Copies

Original Document
Delivery Outputs
Localized Iterations
Distributed Copies

When serving content at scale, a single document can multiply exponentially.

Even though the original document was never changed, it was copied into different types of documents, with context added for different audiences, and localized for different languages. Producing and keeping track of all of these copies becomes a significant burden. Yet, for some reason, this has become the norm — a rapid (not really that rapid,) but acceptable method of development for content teams.

This may work when content is being developed for the first time. But, chances are, the content will need be to updated and changed eventually, and likely more than once. To do this, all copies and derivatives must be hunted down and updated — all 192 of them.

Managing content at scale is one of the biggest challenges facing organizations today.