Global Content Collaboration: Making it Work

Jun 9, 2015   //   by Barry Saiff   //   Blog, Content Strategy, How-To, Managing Technical Writers, Outsourcing, Reference Articles  //  No Comments

How widely dispersed, geographically speaking, is your content development team? Or, are you currently in one location and considering expanding to another?

Implementing a global content collaboration strategy can be a rewarding investment. Making it work begins with understanding these key success factors

  1. What Country?

Which country best fits your needs? Consider these factors to start:

  • Cost and availability of skilled labor
  • Language
  • Infrastructure – electricity, Internet, transportation

In considering countries, don’t leave out the Philippines –  the #1 rated country for business English.

  1. Ensuring Success and Quality via Project Management and Editing

Let’s face it, splitting your content development across countries, if not managed properly, can multiply your problems instead of reducing them. You need competent project management, in each location, to effectively facilitate global collaboration. The pitfalls of no project management include misunderstood instructions, missed deadlines, and poor quality work.

Editing, for grammar and substance, is a crucial part of quality control. A lack of editing is the chief culprit in many failed projects.

To prevent misunderstandings and build rapport, qualified editors should work in the same physical location as writers. Working with a writer in-house can accelerate progress dramatically, especially if English is not the writer’s first language. Body language, eye contact, visual cues — all of these support effective communication.

A less desirable option is to use local editors to work remotely with offshore writers. This is far better than not having any editing at all.

  1. Choosing a Low-risk, High Reward Pilot Project

For your first project, choose something that has clear scope, goals, and instructions.

Updating existing documentation, reworking documentation for a new platform, converting files to new formats — all of these can make good initial projects. By choosing a simpler project, you can minimize the number of variables, and better determine what is and is not working.

  1. Managing Risks

Act on these risks early to mitigate future mishaps.

  • Meetings Across Time Zones

While business needs sometimes dictate odd hours, allowing people to work reasonably normal hours most of the time has great rewards. Many projects only require odd hours for regular meetings.

Some of the things to consider when scheduling meeting times and work hours are:

– Availability of transportation: In many places, no transportation is available between the hours of 10 pm and 5 am, for example.

– Health: Night shifts are not for everyone, and may not be healthy for anyone on a long-term basis.

– Opportunity: Time zone differences may allow you to get more work done in each 24-hour period.

  • Work with Multiple Communication Styles

The keys to successfully working across cultures are awareness, relationships, and inclusion.

A lack of cultural awareness can cause many problems. For example, in some cultures, “Yes” doesn’t always mean “Yes.” Quick conversations that lack substance can lead to misunderstandings that surface later, after damage is already done.

Ask questions, frequently. Clarify everything. Surrender the idea that your culture is better or more effective – there is no cheese down that road.

Effective communication occurs within effective relationships that are based on inclusion. Diverse communication channels can help build a strong, collaborative, multinational team. Include multiple avenues for connection and learning, for example:

  • Shared wiki sites/intranets
  • One-on-one meetings via videoconference or phone
  • Group email lists
  • File storage/sharing sites
  • Occasional conferences with the entire project team or subgroups

Global content collaboration can be an enriching experience for all involved. Faster turnaround, lower budgets, and higher quality are all possible.

Are you considering outsourcing content development? Saiff Solutions, Inc. can help you develop a strategy to succeed. Contact us if you’d like to talk: barrysaiff@saiffsolutions.com

We have a free offer until July 7, 2015.

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