This book's title has probably attracted those interested in Enterprise Content Management. ECM has increasingly become a major buzz in business strategy circles as the information age tidal wave spills over into organizations and floods them with content. We're literally drowning. "Managing Enterprise Content" does not discuss ECM in broad terms, such as structured and unstructured content, email, scanned documents, OCR, ICR, etc. Instead, it focuses on content reuse. To take a simple example, a product brochure, a website, and a press release all include descriptions of a product. Why, the book argues, rewrite that description three separate times for each medium? Why not write it just once, store it in a content management system, and then reuse it over and over again? "Content Modularization" or "Content Reuse" probably describe the goals of this book less confusingly than "Managing Enterprise Content." But, in fairness to the authors, the current title isn't inaccurate, it just lends itself easily to misunderstanding. To reiterate: those looking for a course in Enterprise Content Management conforming to the Association for Information and Image Management's (AIIM) guidelines should look elsewhere.
Nonetheless, those looking for a strategy to manage distributable content throughout an organization should take a look at "Managing Enterprise Content." The focus remains on implementing a "unified content strategy," which translates essentially to an efficient reuse of content. Here the word "content" has a specific sense relating to verbiage authored for a specific use. Product descriptions, mission and vision statements, disclaimers, compliance and regulatory announcements, anything widely distributable qualifies. How does one efficiently manage the creation and the evolution of such content across an organization? This obviously implies some form of centralization (although this pregnant term gets strategically avoided for obvious reasons). And this further implies a software system. But prior to purchasing an expensive application, the business must align itself process-wise to enable content reuse. Otherwise the costly program will sit and rot. The first three parts of the book (I - III), comprising its first twelve chapters, discuss these necessary preparations and walk the reader through to implementation. This progression mirrors, for good reasons, the project management and software development life cycle processes. First, determine the concept or the "why?" of the project (Chapters 1 & 2). Then perform cost benefit analysis (Chapter 3 discusses ROI for content reuse), analyze and prioritize the current content infrastructure, the "As-Is" (Chapters 4 through 6), look to the future by modeling and designing the elements of the system the "To-Be" (Chapters 7 through 11), and finally implement the reusable content infrastructure (Chapter 12). Evaluation of software tools and technology should come before implementation, but the book instead covers these topics in Part IV (Chapters 13 to 18). So it's that easy to implement a unified content strategy? Well, no, not really.
Part V, the book's final section, outlines the inevitable issues that face organizational restructuring. Implementation of a unified content strategy will probably necessitate fundamental changes. Roles will get changes, people moved around, departments will get realigned or reorganized. All of this can sap morale or cause anxiety amongst employees. The author is not an authority on such issues, so this section of the book remains somewhat cursory and high-level. Conflict management gets deferred to a website (the book contains an out of date URL, but the book's website[...] has an updated address), and the advice presented here will probably not surprise anyone. Still, managing change remains an important part of any new implementation and this section, though rudimentary, will at least raise awareness.
Lastly, the appendices contain a grab bag of information. Appendix C, on vendors, has probably suffered from age (these days, a lot can happen in three years), but it may provide some good leads. Appendix B, "Writing for Multiple Media," probably could have appeared in the main body of the book; it contains important details not covered elsewhere.
Overall, the book does give a plausible outline for implementing the proposed strategy. Some of the chapters may seem overly simplistic or overlong to those experienced with system implementations or business process management. At the very least, "Managing Enterprise Content" may introduce some readers to the concept of enterprise content reuse. That concept remains a challenging one that will likely mean different things to different organizations. So this book does not provide the final word on the subject, nor does it intend to. An organization can only use this book as a blueprint or a guidepost for implementing its own unified content strategy.