To centralise or decentralise… 5 things to consider when designing a content governance model


“The content itself should tell you a lot about whether it should be controlled centrally (centralised) or locally (decentralised),” Komosion Strategy Principal Lisa Hickson, says. “It’s also important to look at how the content is currently being managed in parallel to the organisation’s strategy, and if it is supporting that strategy.”

Hickson is leading Komosion’s work with the University of Queensland, redesigning their institutional digital presence from content to information architecture and user journeys. 

“First, you need to get your definitions right,” she says.

Centralised content is a highly controlled model, likely to be used for really important information that is generally relevant and accessible to a wide audience. It means a central team of people, small or large depending on the amount of content and the size of the organisation, who create and execute a content plan for the whole organisation.

“This can become problematic in educational institutions because of the need for a lot of specific, and inaccessible content, usually only accessed by people in that field of study.”

Decentralised content is the opposite model. Control of content is distributed far and wide within an organisation; anyone can post. Content could, for example, be created by any researcher within a university faculty.

The benefits from specific and niche content created by people who specialise in that area of study is useful for students or staff who understand the content; whilst the issues of ad-hoc posting might be solved by a little extra resourcing toward content management.

So – how to choose a model for your organisation? Or can the models be combined? Lisa Hickson suggests considering the following 5 questions before you design a governance model:

  1. How does it align to organisational strategy?

What is your organisation trying to do? Which audiences are they speaking to? Your content model needs to serve your strategy, not the other way around. The needs and wants of your audience must trump the needs and wants of your internal people.

  1. What is the content’s purpose?

Is there a call to action? Does it help to drive student enrolment or donations? Calls to action that align with strategic priorities should be managed by a central team, to ensure consistency. 

  1. How important is it?

Is content something that needs to be managed centrally because it’s really important? Or is it not so important to the organisation on a whole, but may be important for a certain faculty? Rule of thumb – content that’s important to the organisation’s mission and seen by its main target audiences should be managed centrally. Content that’s important only to a small subset of the organisation’s target audiences can be decentralised.

  1. Resourcing

Based on your answers to the previous questions, does your content function need to be resourced differently?

Centralised content will require its own team. Decentralised content does not need a separate team but may need some extra resourcing to coach content creators in style and templates or ideal content locations.

  1. Is it being managed well today (currently)?

Finally, ask yourself how your current structure matches up to your ideal. 

  • Is there enough central resource?
  • Do we have the right platforms?
  • Do we know where our highest-traffic locations are?
  • Is it supporting the organisation’s strategy?

If you’d like to speak to Komosion about redesigning your content governance, contact us.