Find out more about our Firehead course instructor: Rahel Bailie

At Firehead, we’re extremely proud of the exceptional quality authors we’ve gathered in our training centre. They are top names and thought leaders in their fields. Rahel Bailie is our first contributor (just like she was on our blog) with her course “Content operations on a shoestring,” a standard reference here at Firehead.  


Rahel was doing content operations long before it was a “thing”. She’s always had a drive for efficiency and eliminating tedious repetitive tasks, which sent her on a constant search for ways to automate workflows.   Back in the late 1990’s, she says, there wasn’t software to make things more efficient, except maybe FrameMaker and the original RoboHelp for technical communicators. We didn’t even have the web yet. Writers were writing things out and then giving them to take us to tape up. And then they would send the results off to the printers. Content was all for print, online help, or what they optimistically called “multichannel publishing” at the time.  Multichannel was meant for the other teams who used the content, such as training or sales. It was single sourced in FrameMaker – with instructions: this version goes into a manual, that version goes to the sales people, etc. But it created more efficiency! When the web came along, things got more complicated – we switched from that system to processing. It gave us many more elements to link together in different ways.    When we made that switch, all of a sudden, things became possible – it opened up possibilities because it wasn’t in a fixed format on a page with whatever kind of line or tape. Rahel was fascinated looking for solutions to the complexities this introduced. Tools appeared to manage more and more things, but usually you had to build the processes yourself.  She went to conferences, where she saw accounting software that resembles today’s CCMS. Now, you could include separate language components, components for sales, components for training, components you could define. But, as usual, there wasn’t a way to automate content workflows. She went looking for a way to automate the stuff she does, alone at the time, before ContentOps had a name, mostly due to the boredom factor of dealing with all of the inefficiency. She wanted to be able to turn her attention to more interesting stuff.  She kept learning new tools as they came out, looking for ways to improve processes. She considers it advocacy for content people – no one else in the organisation is going to do it because they don’t understand.


Why is this course important?

It gives you a good foundation that you can use as a springboard for an advanced understanding of how to  You’ll know how to set up an operating model and also help you identify the governance components and change management stuff you need to think of whilst you’re developing your operating model. This course gives content people a model for operationalising their content the same way DevOps does for development, or x does for x. Up until content operations, there was nothing for content, and we want to address this chaos in the same way other teams in the organisation do. The way GitHub works is hard for content. It’s just like a developer model for how to do that kind of stuff. 

How will this information help you two years from now?

By the end of the course, if you do all of the exercises in sequence, you will have a first pass at a working operating model. 

What is ‘content ops’?

At an overarching level, content operations defines your content offering. You could define it as the people, processes, and technologies that enable an organisation to implement its content strategy to efficiently produce, maintain, and deliver content.

So what’s the difference between content strategy and content ops?

The short answer is that a content strategy (usually) guides content operations; one flows from the other. Some definitions of content ops drop the content strategy element. Perhaps because not every organisation has a content strategy – or it has one that is gathering dust because no one actually operationalised it. But it makes sense to carry out operations according to a plan. The two go hand in hand.

Why do we need content ops?

Because content is complex. How are you going to organise that complexity into functional operationფი? There’s an editorial side and a technical side to content. This is copy. The copy is what people read. The technical side is what makes it into content. You need to separate content from its presentation to operationalise it.  And then when you put those two sides together, you get the copy plus the metadata – the copy plus copy – and all those underlying things. And if you don’t have those underlying things, then you might as well write a note on a piece of paper and put it into your pocket. It’s not going to go anywhere in your system. The point is to be able to publish your content. If it’s in your product, you have to have to be on the ball.  Most large organisations see their content as a business asset. An organisation may have multiple operational models for content, or one operational model with multiple submodels. Content operations is a way to deal with this complexity – it applies systems and more technical management to these operational models with the aim of creating order from chaos. ROI you can spend money to make money or you can spend money to save money.


You enable your information, information as content plus data, content and data information. So you’re able to make sure your data really is smart, to get insights and so on. 

An introduction to content operations

This self-paced video workshop presents the core principles of content operations and guides you to apply them to the content you need to operationalise.

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