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Best CMS collaboration features for content teams

CMS collaboration features illustration

Discover how the right CMS can revolutionize your team's workflow with essential collaboration features at every stage of content creation. From drafting and revisions to publishing and governance, these tools ensure seamless communication and enhanced productivity.

When it comes to creating digital content, effective collaboration is critical — and the content management system (CMS) in use will determine whether that collaboration is done well, done poorly or done at all. The CMS is usually the nucleus of an organization’s content operations, helping teams produce, manage and distribute content seamlessly — whether it’s being used by a bustling newsroom of editors or a handful of corporate communications executives — so the right CMS, with the right set of features, can make all the difference.

When it comes to articulating the features that support collaboration, it’s helpful to think of content creation as a life cycle — we have the content creation or drafting period, the content editing and content management phases, and finally the content governance stage.

Let’s take a look at CMS features that support content creation at each stage of this life cycle. A good CMS is designed to support collaboration at every step of this often intricate process and gives users a centralized platform where ideas can be shared, drafts can be reviewed and final pieces can be polished — all in real-time. While our focus will be on collaboration, these features often will enhance productivity as well — ensuring that everyone from the writer to the editor, the designer to the publisher, can contribute their best work.

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CMS content creation features to boost collaboration

The first step in the content creation life cycle is, well, obviously, content creation. This is the stage at which the content first comes to life — it goes from being a note jotted on a napkin to a genuine asset with a title and description. Here are some CMS features that will support content teams at this phase:

  • A robust in-CMS asset search: The ability to quickly and efficiently locate previous work is crucial for content teams. Why? First and foremost, because it prevents teams from wasting time creating content they already have — and a robust search feature in the CMS will tell them just that. Secondly, that same search feature can help teams locate and reference past content related to the new content — this not only streamlines the content creation process but also ensures consistency and coherence across all published materials. (This can also prevent teams from re-purchasing already-owned assets like images and videos.)
  • Autosave capabilities: The last thing any writer wants is to lose work — even if it’s just a few words or sentences, it’s valuable time spent. A great CMS should capture a user’s ongoing history of edits within the CMS, so that work is never lost. (Brightspot refers to this feature as “Work in Progress.”)
  • A rich text editor that supports blocks or enhancements: A rich text editor is crucial at all steps of this process, but most important here — as it will allow the writer to craft their content using standard formatting like bold and italics, as well as to embellish the content with supporting blocks with images, videos, quotes, hyperlinks, social media embeds or even forms. Brightspot’s rich text editor, for example, supports an array of these blocks — referred to as enhancements — which can then be easily repositioned within the asset.
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CMS content editing features to boost collaboration

The content editing phase is a critical juncture in the content management process because this is where ideas really begin to take shape and collaboration becomes key. A CMS that excels in this phase of collaboration will offer a suite of features designed to streamline workflow, enhance communication and keep all team members aligned and informed. Look for:

  • Workflow management: Content teams are usually governed by their workflows, which outline the steps content takes between creation and publication. Content must pass successfully through all of the necessary checkpoints before it can be completed, and the CMS should allow for the customization of these workflows to match the team’s unique processes.
  • Rich editing tools: Inline notes and comments are indispensable for editors and contributors to communicate changes and feedback directly on the content. These tools should be intuitive, allowing for easy marking of text and suggestions.
  • Notifications: These can keep teams on track by alerting editors and writers about feedback, updates, comments or approvals needed. Your CMS should allow users to get very granular with these (no one pays attention to spam, right?) so that they see only the most important notifications to them specifically, and via the method they use the most, whether that be text, email, Slack, Teams or carrier pigeon. This way, everyone stays in the loop and can respond promptly to keep the content moving forward.
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Content management features to boost collaboration

After content creation and editing comes management of the content. It exists now, so think of this step as everything else that will happen to an asset. It might need to go onto a tag page, which the CMS will support by providing fields to apply taxonomy attributes, we’ll want it to be discoverable by search engines, so the CMS should support setting SEO metatags, and so on. At many organizations, these specialized content tasks are performed by specialized team members — meaning collaboration at this step must cast a wider net. Here are some other features that are critical in supporting collaboration at this step:

  • Granular permissions and roles: One of the unsung heroes of collaboration is user permissions; in order for much of the content management step to be performed successfully, the users in question must have accurate permissions. A CMS with highly flexible and granular permissions is a must to streamline collaboration. Some of your users should have admin-level rights to all content, and other users will need very finite access, perhaps to certain assets or even certain fields within a given asset type.
  • Metatagging and SEO: Your metatags act as building blocks for your content — they’re crucial to content reuse, distribution and syndication, performance tracking and SEO. The CMS should allow for easy application and management of these and support features like customizable page elements, URL settings, internal linking and analytics tools to enhance on-page and technical SEO.
  • Revision history: A comprehensive history of revisions is essential for accountability and collaboration. Let’s say the content has been published live, but the team notices a mistake was made in the very final edit — a CMS with a good version control system will allow teams to track those changes and revert to the previous, correct version. Any editor with the correct user permission can make this change — meaning it’s effortless to correct errors. A good revision history is also critical for maintaining an audit trail of an asset’s evolution, which is an especially important compliance feature in highly regulated industries.
  • Sitewide preview: Before going live, editors must see how content will appear across the entire site — most CMSs provide an asset-level preview that will help in creation and editing — and a truly collaboration-first CMS will support sitewide preview. There are a number of ways to support and approach sitewide preview, but the goal of it is to provide thorough review of the content in all its contexts, ensuring that it is accurate before publication.
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Content governance features

Content governance is a critical aspect of any CMS, especially when it comes to maintaining the longevity and relevance of content after its creation. It’s also an important aspect of ensuring your brand’s resilience. Good content governance will ensure your brand remains strong by setting policies that will guide the creation, management, archiving, updating and reviewing of content. Here are the CMS features that support content governance:

  • Reminders: Similar to notifications, a CMS with great governance capabilities will support automated reminders and notifications. These should be configured in such a way that content teams are notified that content may be in need of review or sunset entirely. Even more important for collaboration, though, are reminders that a certain asset has become stalled in a workflow or sitting in a reviewer’s inbox for more than an allocated period. These kinds of “checks and balances” can help foster a lean-back collaboration, where the CMS does the nagging instead of the managing editor.
  • Scheduled content reviews: Similar to reminders, regular content reviews or batched reports of old content will help create an environment of content accuracy and freshness. This is particularly important for content that is subject to regulatory changes or that covers rapidly evolving topics. When the CMS can present these content reviews in a single dashboard view, where editors can manage assignees and due dates, these features become even more valuable for collaboration, saving time and taking Google Sheets out of the mix.
  • Content expiration and archiving: Sometimes, content is only going to be relevant for a certain time period, and the content teams know that from the start. Ideally, the CMS should allow for the setting of live dates and expiration dates, after which content is automatically archived or removed from active purview in some way. This CMS feature helps keep the content repository accurate and reduces clutter — without any editor needing to manually touch the assets.

CMS features for collaboration

As you can see — when it comes to collaboration, choosing a CMS that places collaboration first can streamline your content processes. These collaboration features can improve working relationships between teams and ultimately increase the speed at which they create content. Viewing content creation as a life cycle — from draft to editing to management and governance — highlights how critical it is to find a CMS that will support your content team’s collaboration at every step of the journey. A well-architected CMS will provide a central platform where your content team can share ideas, review drafts and communicate with your audience in real-time, boosting collaboration, productivity and engagement.


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