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Review cycles keep your living documents fresh

graphic showing workflow process for content teams

I learned quite some time ago that maintaining a living document is quite similar to home gardening. In my first attempt at growing vegetables, I bought some seeds, spread them in my backyard, came back two weeks later, and had a dense, Vitamin A-packed, ready-to-eat patch of weeds. A neighbor advised that healthy plants require periodic watering and weeding. Fair enough. I bought another pack of seeds, spread them in my backyard, and did my first periodic watering and weeding after two weeks. The result was the same. If “periodically” means working in the garden every few days, I’d prefer to periodically go to the supermarket. Regardless, the moral to this story is that periodic maintenance keeps gardens fresh. The same is true with living documents. They require periodic review cycles to be accurate and reliable.

First, what is a “living document?” These are typically reference materials that have time-sensitive content. Examples include marketing collateral, price lists, product reviews, travel brochures—almost anything that a reader needs to know before taking a timely action.

Second, what is a “review cycle?” A review cycle is typically a fixed amount of time during which an asset must be fact-checked and re-published. Brightspot’s review cycles start the day an asset is published.

Now that we have our concepts well defined, let’s get into a concrete example. A publisher has a few sections that include curated promos to individual assets. The editorial board wants all sections to be reviewed every 30 days to ensure those promos are relevant. Even if there are no changes to the sections, a record needs to be maintained that someone checked and re-published them every 30 days.

There are two components to implementing this policy: administrative and editorial.

In the administrative component, the site administrator configures a review cycle of 30 days for all sections. Next, the administrator configures reminders. One of those reminders is a banner that appears in sections 10 days before the review cycle expires. Editors opening a section during those 10 days see a banner in the content edit form.

Review cycle banner
Review cycle banner

Another reminder is notifications sent to the asset's author and watchers.

Review cycle notifications
Review cycle notifications

The administrator can configure multiple transmissions of notifications during the review cycle, typically once or twice as the review cycle’s window approaches expiration.

The following diagram illustrates the various timelines used to implement this policy.

Review cycle diagram
Review cycle diagram

To perform a review, an editor opens a section, creates a new revision, and migrates the section through the workflow. When the workflow is complete, the editor publishes the section, and a new review cycle starts.

Developers can easily incorporate this platform extension into their builds by reviewing the corresponding repository's README.

Review cycles are based on features that have been part of Brightspot for years: notifications, revisions, and workflows. As a result, publishers using Brightspot’s review cycles can rely on a stable, reliable, and familiar user interface to keep their living documents current.

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About the Author
At Brightspot we believe technology should enable content-focused teams to work smarter, faster, and more seamlessly to move businesses forward. With decades of experience in publishing and media, we help companies transform their business content and digital experiences by creating enterprise applications at scale with astonishing speed.

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