5 Reasons to Do a Content Audit
Content audits examine a cross-section of your content for issues related to reuse, internationalization, terminology, process effectiveness, tool issues, and so on. The data you collect can help you define benchmarks and metrics that help you determine how successful your endeavors are.
Here are five reasons for doing a content audit:
1. You are making major changes to tools or processes (e.g., implementing DITA or another XML architecture and content management). Any time you make major changes to processes or tools, you need to benchmark what you have before you transition, so that you can evaluate how effective the changes are. The data you collect in an audit will help you develop a cohesive content strategy and metrics for your department, which you can then leverage to include other areas.
2. You have acquired another company and need to integrate them with your team. When you merge two companies, there are typically redundancies in processes, tools, personnel, and so on. Auditing both the original department and the newly acquired one can help you identify opportunities for integration, process improvement, and to determine training and other personnel needs. If the two companies produce similar products, you might also find opportunities for reuse, product integration, and so on.
3. You are just getting started with localizing your content. If you are just getting started with localization, you have an excellent opportunity to make sure that you are doing things right from the beginning. A content audit can identify areas where you need to improve reuse, terminology management, and internationalization, as well as which processes, tools, and templates need to be modified to support localization.
4. Your localization vendor is complaining about quality issues in the source content or in the processes. Localization is one of the largest costs of doing business globally. It’s also very much a “garbage in, garbage out” process. Quality issues in the source are magnified exponentially in the target languages, so it behooves you to pull quality control upstream and make sure that your content and products are well-internationalized. You also need to make sure that your change management process is proactive and supports localization. Getting your quality issues under control not only reduces your localization costs, it improves your global customer satisfaction and facilitates your ability to expand into new markets.
5. Terminology issues are costing you time and money. Consistent terminology strengthens your brand, improves comprehension and usability of your products and content, reduces localization costs, and reduces your liability. In short, terminology management is one of the most important things you can do to support localization. It’s also one of the most challenging areas to manage because so many departments have an interest in it. Create a cross-functional team to act as a control board for terminology. Involve your in-country reviewers and localization vendor in the terminology development and management process. A content audit helps you identify and correct inconsistencies.
Conducting a content audit and implementing the recommendations quickly results in a return on investment. Many of the typical findings are relatively easy to implement, and yet have a huge impact on efficiency, customer satisfaction, and localization costs.
As Principal of Comgenesis, LLC, Katherine (Kit) Brown-Hoekstra provides consulting and training to her clients on a variety of topics, including localization, content strategy, and content management. Kit is an STC Fellow and STC international society VP, an experienced professional, and a small business owner with over 23 years of experience in technical communication, much of it working with localization teams (sometimes on the client side and sometimes on the vendor side). She regularly speaks at conferences worldwide, gives webinars for Localization Institute, has coauthored a book on managing virtual teams, and contributes frequently to several industry publications.
NOTE: The views expressed here are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of GALA.