Baby Steps: Automated Publishing Using Arbortext and SharePoint

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Learn how Erie Insurance is developing an automated publishing system based on SharePoint 2010 to provide targeted search results for Agents and Employees, thereby saving time and improving efficiency.

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Baby Steps: Automated Publishing Using Arbortext and SharePoint

  1. 1. Baby StepsAutomated Publishing UsingArbortext and SharePointBrett McCorkle, Rita BriodyMay 8, 2013
  2. 2. • Where we started• Small, manageable improvements we implemented• Publishing alternatives we evaluated• Proof of concept we constructed• Struggles and challenges we encounteredAgenda5/8/2013 2
  3. 3. PeepsBrett McCorkle– Senior Technical Writer with 8 Years Experience– Arbortext System Administrator– Focus on IT Documentation, Diagrams, Standards, etc.– Bachelors, Management Information SystemsRita Briody– Technical Writer II with 5 Years Experience– Focus on new software and technology– Bachelors, Political Science, candidateMaster of Science in Computer andInformation Science5/8/2013 3
  4. 4. Who We AreCompany– Established 1925– Property/Casualty, Commercial, and Life Insurance– 11 states and the District of ColumbiaTeam– 14 writers in IT Division– Various backgrounds includingIT, Mathematics, and English– Experience levels ranging from 2 to 20+years in technical writing5/8/2013 4
  5. 5. Background• BookMaster mainframe publishing• Large monolithic books– Copious amounts of content– We documented the features,not the tasks• Print and online distribution• Word documents eventually became the norm– Developed templates for several document types– Published as PDFs• ERIEbooks designed for mainframe docs, not PDFs5/8/2013 5
  6. 6. Approach• Baby steps!– Small improvementsover 8 years• New methods– Minimalism– Structured Authoring• New tools– Arbortext– ECM• ERIEbooks becameour biggest limitation5/8/2013 6
  7. 7. New Methods• Attended webinars and performed research– Minimalism– Structured Authoring– What the heck is DITA???• Assigned small groups to provide training to the restof the team– Divide and conquer– Presentations, working sessions, email newsletters• Reinforced later with formal on-site training fromComTech Services5/8/2013 7
  8. 8. New Tools• Inherited budget from another group to purchaseArbortext (very, very lucky)• Controlled our own destiny– Assigned technical writers with IT backgrounds to configure andsupport the tool• Began a several year effort to manually convert thecontent from our legacy systems• Implemented content management– The company already owned IBM Document Manager– Small work requests to prove and implement Arbortext and DM5/8/2013 8
  9. 9. New Capabilities• Our content is now XML-based– Began with DITA 1.1, upgraded to DITA 1.2• Multiple output formats from the same source– PDF, HTML, EPUB, and online help• But… we are only publishing to PDF• Users want more options and better search results– They are all spoiled by Google• ERIEbooks, our current delivery system,is not up to the task5/8/2013 9I‟m sorry sir, but Ican„t do that…
  10. 10. Benefits• Minimalism greatly improved our documents– Action-oriented approach– Focused on users goals– Reduced wasteful, repetitive content• DITA saves us time– Focus on content, not formatting– Reuse between documents– Arbortext creates documents in minutes, not hours (BookMaster)5/8/2013 10
  11. 11. ERIEbooks Problems• Users are unable to find our documentation• ERIEbooks, our content delivery system, is verylimited– Created 15+ years ago as a “temporary solution”– Pointer system, does not store our content– Can only reference PDFs and old mainframe documents– Search limited to document number, title, and 5 keywords– Limited browsing by subject matter– No usage tracking or feedback mechanisms• We must make it easier for users to find theinformation they need in the format they want5/8/2013 11
  12. 12. Options• Do nothing– Continue using ERIEbooks in its current state (boo!)• Buy something– Purchase and implement an off-the-shelf solution ($$$$)• Dream big– Build an adapter to connect SharePoint to our source files in IBMDocument Manager• Use what we already have– Develop a solution to publish our content to SharePoint 2010 usingArbortext5/8/2013 12
  13. 13. First Attempt• We had big dreams– Big, Hairy, Audacious Goals (BHAGs!)– Created a wish list of requirements– Wanted drastic improvements over our current system• Unrealistic expectations produced few results– Little progress made for about a year– Evaluated vendor solutions, all were expensive, none fully met ourlofty requirements– Worked with internal and external resources to produce a designthat was ultimately unfeasible• We needed to change our mindset and our approach5/8/2013 13
  14. 14. The Chosen One• We took a step back and simplified our goals– Shaved the BHAG!– Scaled back our wish list– Reviewed our existing technology• Focused on the most important requirements– Modern features: full-text search, usage tracking– Deliver multiple formats: PDF, HTML, EPUB– Use tools we already own: Arbortext, SharePoint– Does not require external resources• Provides a foundation for future enhancements5/8/2013 14
  15. 15. Design Summary1. Authors send SOAP requests to the ArbortextPublishing Engine containing the document ID andany required parameters2. Connect to our source repository, IBM DocumentManager3. Create an HTML version of the requested DITAdocument4. Send a SOAP response with the HTML documentattached5. Load the document from the SOAP response intoSharePoint, replacing the previous version5/8/2013 15
  16. 16. Design Diagram5/8/2013 16
  17. 17. Proof of ConceptNeeded to prove we could:– Connect the Arbortext Publishing Engine to Document Manager– Create an interface for SOAP requests– Send the output to SharePoint– Eliminate use of out-of-support applications (BookMaster)5/8/2013 17
  18. 18. What We Did• Three months to complete a proof of concept (POC)• Connected Arbortext Publishing Engine to DM– Adapter bundled with Arbortext– Already in use by writers using Arbortext Editor• Created interface to submit publish requests– Began an official POC with our IT Lab (thanks, Rita!)– Worked with the IT Lab developers to create an application– Application sends requests to Arbortext and loads the resultingdocument into SharePoint5/8/2013 18
  19. 19. Challenges Faced• Providing metrics to management– No usage tracking in ERIEbooks– Difficult to prove anyone used it• Generating interest and forming alliances• Budget and resource limitations– No money to purchase hardware or software– Low priority effort, work completed during “down time”• Lack of necessary skills– Needed other groups to help develop the solution• Performance issues– Needed to upgrade the Publishing Engine server5/8/2013 19
  20. 20. Results• Successfully proved our design– HTML content automatically loads into SharePoint– SharePoint returns full-text search results of our content• Benefits from SharePoint features– Full text search with in-line results– Usage tracking– Versioning– Personalization (through Active Directory)• Overwhelming management support– Approved project to implement our design– Obtained estimates from required company resources5/8/2013 20
  21. 21. Reality Check• Budgets and corporate priorities don‟t always directlysupport our goals, we‟re here to support theirs– Competed with other projects for developer resources– Lost priority to higher rated initiatives– Placed on hold indefinitely• The need to replace our archaic system still exists– We have simplified our approach again– Still using SharePoint while showing we are adaptable to limitedcompany resources• New approach lays the ground work for futureenhancements5/8/2013 21
  22. 22. What‟s Next?• Continue our Baby Steps journey• Implement ERIEbooks “Lite”– Start simple: Replicate ERIEbooks– Remove existing limitations– Perform usage tracking• Goals– Help our users find what they‟re looking for– Demonstrate innovation using SharePoint to the company• Slowly implement additional features– Publish our content in SharePoint– Provide full text search, personalization, etc.5/8/2013 22
  23. 23. Timeline5/8/2013 23
  24. 24. QuestionsBrett McCorkle– brett.mccorkle@erieinsurance.com– http://www.linkedin.com/in/brettmccorkle– @DrunkenMonkieRita Briody– rita.briody@erieinsurance.com– http://www.linkedin.com/in/ritalillianbriody– @nerdiva5/8/2013 24
  25. 25. Thank YouPlease provide feedback on SurveyMonkeyKiosks Available in the Registration Areawww.surveymonkey.com/s/STC13sessions5/8/2013 25

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