Your collection of case studies is critical for winning new business and extending brand awareness, so it’s worth investing the time to properly manage the collection. Having a well-organised and maintained collection will result in multiple benefits, ensuring a quick response to opportunities with high quality, targeted content.
At the heart of managing a great case study collection is governance. This means having the right roles, rules and processes in place. At Case Study Ninja we’re pretty geeky when it comes to case studies, and we know the importance of focusing on the detail.
Managing a case study collection is not rocket science. It’s actually quite straightforward, although putting it all into practice can be hard when everybody is busy.
Here are seven high-level best practices to help establish and maintain governance around the management of your collection of case studies.
1. Establish ownership
It’s important to have a named owner or owners of your case study collection. This means at least one employee has the clear responsibility to manage and develop the case study system. Having an accountable owner makes sure the collection is actively managed with some stewardship in place.
Similarly, you should have a named owner for each separate case study. This is most likely to be the person who originally provided the content or a member of the team involved in the project which originally inspired the case study. The owner will be involved in reviewing and signing off the case study.
Document everybody’s responsibilities to avoid misunderstandings. This might seem like overkill, but formalising ownership helps establish clarity and drive accountability, ultimately resulting in a better and more sustainable system. We can guarantee there will be at least one instance when you’ll be glad you wrote those responsibilities down!
2. Create one source of truth
You should only have one central place where your employees can access your original collection of case studies. Not only does this ensure you are avoiding the duplication of effort involved in maintaining two collections, but it also means your employees are accessing the most up to date case studies in the very best format.
Having more than one system results in poor version control creates confusion and is inefficient. Create one source of truth to drive consistency and minimise risks.
3. Make the collection easily accessible
Any central collection of case studies must be easily accessible to all employees who will be using and presenting the material. Ideally, everybody in your company should be able to directly access the collection.
Try to remove any barriers to use. Create an easy path for your employees to find the collection, for example through a prominent link on your intranet. Also, make sure that once people do find the collection it doesn’t feel hard to use. Busy employees just won’t use it.
It’s also important to avoid bottlenecks in the process for accessing the material. Unless there are good reasons from a risk perspective, avoid having an unnecessary “gatekeeper” who emails case studies out from the collection. In a high pressured bid situation if the “gatekeeper” is on holiday, a bid team can end up tearing their hair out.
4. Structure the collection
Employees need to be able to find the case studies they need by different criteria such as date, subject, client, service, sector and so on. Whether employees are browsing or using a search facility you’ll need to structure or tag each case study with a number of different terms.
At least some of these terms should be controlled from a list of words which make sense to staff. These terms may be part of a wider taxonomy and could be the same words you use with customers.
5. Create and document processes
When I was growing up, my grandmother once told me “Behind every great case study is a detailed process”. OK so I lied, and she didn’t tell me that at all, but if there was a bit of “grandmotherly” wisdom around case studies it would have been that!
Consider all the associated processes and responsibilities for creating, uploading, managing and archiving case studies. In doing so cover the full life cycle of the case study from reviewing which case studies to write to taking it out of circulation.
Documenting the process is important. It makes everyone aware of how the system works, allows new people joining the company to get up to speed and results in a more efficient system. Documenting processes is also often the first step to identifying how you could do things better.
6. Make it mobile-friendly
Sales staff and bid teams are often out at clients or on the road. It can be very useful to quickly produce case study material for clients to look at. A quick response also impresses.
If possible, try to ensure your case study collection is easily accessible from outside the office, preferably on mobile devices. In particular, a case study viewed through a tablet can be an excellent and attractive way of showcasing your company’s great work.
7. Give sales teams the flexibility they need
Every client has different needs and in a sales or RFP situation material which is specific and targeted to the individual client can make all the difference. Sales teams will need some flexibility to modify or tweak case studies so they resonate more strongly with clients. Even subtle or nuanced changes in vocabulary can help win work.
Your case study collection needs to account for flexibility. Provide the base or root material in formats where the necessary changes can be made. You may also have a number of different versions of the same case study modified for different types of client.
Governance is golden
Establishing rules, roles and processes around your collection of case studies and then documenting what you’ve done isn’t the most exciting task in the world. But when your case study collection is working smoothly, and it helps your company win new work, you’ll be glad you did it!
If the way your case study collection is managed is a bit haphazard or too informal, consider introducing some of the best practices above or get in touch if you’d like to discuss anything with us.
Any changes don’t have to happen immediately but can evolve into a more organised and well-drilled system. Good luck in managing your case studies!