Content flow in the typical product life cycle
Let us consider a hypothetical scenario of a product life cycle while understanding the content flow within this cycle. You will also be able to appreciate the importance of having a content strategy at various stages.
After a considerable amount of consumer research, competitive analysis, and meetings at various higher echelons at the top management, it has been designed to design, develop, and manufacture a new product with an upcoming technology. So, a new product management team is initiated to work on the new product with the proposed technology. The first responsibility of the team is to prepare a Feasibility Report on the basis of information received from various stakeholders taking into consideration the costs and time needed to release the product.
The team members gather all the required information from various sources for three weeks. During the fourth week, they are overwhelmed to find that the feasibility report template is too complex and they do not have the information necessary for many sections of the document. After dilly-dallying with the report for one week, they finally seek the help of a senior member from another team, who helps them with the content flow of the report. However, they are still faced with template issues – formatting and other grammatical issues.
As they are already running short of time, they send the report (with formatting and grammatical errors) to the senior product management team for approval. The report is immediately rejected citing minor documentation issues in the report. The team is asked to consult the technical writing team which can help with the formatting errors. Though she is not aware of the product or the new idea, a senior technical writer is asked to clean up the document. While she is trying to fix the minor issues, she realizes that there are semantic issues with the document and some of the sections are inaccurate and incomplete. She suggests the members of the product management team to rework on some of the sections. Unfortunately, they ignore these content enhancement suggestions and send the document for approval.
Once the Feasibility Report is approved, a development team is initiated with an architect. It is the responsibility of this architect to oversee the design of the product. Using the feasibility report as a basis, the architect sets out to prepare the product. As already highlighted by the writer, the architect finds many gaps in the document and seeks the help of the people who prepared the report. Unable to get satisfactory answers from the team, the architect also ignores the gaps and compiles the Design Specifications Document and Functional Specifications Document. The gaps present in the earlier report are further carried forward in these two documents.
Once the two specifications documents are ready, they are handed over to the developers to prepare the product. After working using the specifications for three weeks, the developers announce that they cannot develop the product until the gaps in the documents are addressed. The product management team meets with the development team and works with them for two more weeks to fill the gaps in the specifications documents after consulting various other teams.
Meanwhile, the corporate strategy team notices the fact that the team lost two weeks already due to these meetings and discussions. In a bid to catch up on time, they instruct the marketing team to begin developing marketing collaterals for the product.The marketing team uses the Feasibility Report as their basis to begin developing their collaterals and strategizing their marketing campaign.
As the development team is getting the product ready for quality assurance (or testing), they also get technical writers to begin documentation for the product. A team of technical writers works on the product and develops the required manuals after working with the development and testing teams.
Just two weeks before the release of the product, the product management team goes through the manuals and the marketing collaterals and identifies inconsistent information across these media that might send mixed signals to the audience and put sales in jeopardy.
The product management team calls for a cross-functional team meeting to highlight the discrepancies and identify an immediate solution. After hours of meeting, they understand that the content in the technical documents is correct and that the marketing material needs to be changed. The Feasibility Report is then re-written by the senior technical writer in consultation with the various teams that worked on the product.
Do they realize, at least then, the need to have a streamlined content flow system through each and every stage of product design, product development, marketing, and so forth?
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