Technical Communication Industry Benchmarking Survey 2012
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Technical Communication Industry Benchmarking Survey 2012

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Here's a summary of the annual Technical Communication Industry Benchmarking Survey conducted by The Content Wrangler in the fourth quarter of 2012. The survey focused on the enterprise technical ...

Here's a summary of the annual Technical Communication Industry Benchmarking Survey conducted by The Content Wrangler in the fourth quarter of 2012. The survey focused on the enterprise technical documentation and training needs of large, global, content-heavy organizations.

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    Technical Communication Industry Benchmarking Survey 2012 Technical Communication Industry Benchmarking Survey 2012 Document Transcript

    • STRUCTURED CONTENT 2012 TECHNICAL COMMUNICATION INDUSTRY BENCHMARKING SURVEY 44% of companies create structured XML content SUMMARY RESULTS Agile documentation adoption DITA slow, not always successful 81% of companies that The majority of technical documentation and training create structured departments have not adopted an agile approach to creating content use DITA and publishing content. Agile methods are based on iterative and incremental cycles that promote adaptive planning, evolutionary development, and flexible responses to change. OTHER FLAVORS While 45% of companies surveyed claim to apply agile 30% use custom XML DTDs development principles to TechComm projects, few do it successfully. Typical challenges include organizational silos, 16% use DocBook lack of governance, differing approaches. The waterfall development method is the dominant approach in use today.Biggest challenge is the lack of content strategyOur benchmarking survey • Inability to effectively reuse The next biggest challenges:uncovered a wide variety of contentchallenges facing companies that • Lack of governance • Creation of inconsistent,produce technical documentation inaccurate, or mediocre quality • Lack of time, money andand training content. The biggest content resourceschallenge identified was the lack ofa formal content strategy. • Producing content of unknown customer valueCommonly cited symptoms of • Process problems and productionorganizations lacking a content bottlenecksstrategy include: WHAT INNOVATIONS ARE YOU PLANNING FOR THE FUTURE? 21% 14% 11%Moving to topic-based content modelslike the Darwin Information Typing The adoption of a component content management system is the second Creating video documentation and training content is the third mostArchitecture is the most common most common innovation planned for common innovation planned for theinnovation planned for the future— the future—cited by 14% of companies. future—cited by 11% of companies.cited by 21% of companies. DITA/XML CCMS VIDEO
    • Common methods of content reuse Content reuse is the practice of using existing content components to develop new “documents.” Although the majority of reusable content is text-based, any content can be reused (such as graphics, charts, media). Text-based materials are the easiest to reuse. You can reuse sections, paragraphs, sentences, or even words. CONTENT There are three primary methods of reusing content employed by companies today. REUSE Copy-and-paste Most often, when an author realizes the need to reuse a piece of content, they copy it from one document and paste it into another. This copy-and-paste form of content reuse85% is quite natural—even convenient—but introduces potential problems. Because the content is actually cloned (duplicated in each document in which it is reused) and each reused piece exists on its own (disconnected from its source content, unable to be easily located, retrieved, and updated) copy-and-paste is the most error-prone, inefficient and costly method of content reuse. of companies reuse Manual reuse documentation and In manual reuse—the most common form of content reuse—authors manually locate a component of content, retrieve it, and reuse it, Manual reuse doesn’t rely on specific training content technology. Although it can be accomplished without a content management system (CMS), managing manual reuse is best accomplished with the help of a CMS. 5% Manual reuse makes it easy for organizations to rapidly reconfigure reusable content into new information products. It works well for source language and translated content. Manual reuse provides authors with the greatest flexibility, but is problematic as it usually results in the lowest incidence of reuse because BENEFITS it puts the burden of reusing content on the authors. If of companies that authors lack motivation, if they are unaware that Increased consistency reuse content have reusable components exist, or if they have trouble 30% done so either to finding it, reuse may not occur. “innovate” or Automatic reuse “respond” to threats Automatic reuse is planned reuse. Specific content is or opportunities identified as reusable in a specific location. Then the content management system automatically inserts quickly (auto-populates) the reusable content in the Ease of maintenance appropriate locations in the document. The and updating author does not have to determine whether 25% the reusable content exists or search for and retrieve it. Automatic reuse ensures that content is reused and reduces the burden on the author to know that reusable content exists, to find the reusable content, and to Lower total cost insert it appropriately. This reuse method is 24% dependent upon detailed information models, reuse maps (identification of where content is reused in an information set), and support for dynamic delivery of content through your content management system. This means that automatic reuse is planned for in advance, in the modeling and system configuration stage. Authors do not Reduced determine reuse; the system determines localization cost 12% reuse. Source: “Managing Enterprise Content: A Unified Content Strategy” by Ann Rockley and Charles Cooper (2012, New Riders). Info: www.managingenterprisecontent.com2
    • Customers are ? Online Support Communitiesediting andcreating contentCompanies are finding interestingways to leverage the power of the 53% of companies provide customers with access to an online support forum or online community 32%crowd to help them create, update,and improve documentation andtraining content.20% of companies allow their of companies rely on theircustomers to edit documentation customer service or technicaland training content. Many of these support staff to monitor onlinefirms use wiki-based tools that support forums and onlineprovide customers with web-based communitiesediting capability. Edits usually 20% of companies distribute responsibility acrossundergo a review and approval multiple roles (marketing, support, customerprocess, although 8% of firms allow service, technical communication, training,“trusted” customers to edit and and subject matter expertspublish corrections without formalreview.The level of scrutiny customer- 10% of companies employonline support forums manager to monitor a dedicated communitysubmitted edits undergo beforegoing “live” is not only a matter of More than one-third of those of proper infrastructure and/ortrust, it is also directly linked to the companies encourage customers to do technology (18%) are also commonlytype of content being produced and so. cited reasons for customers not beingthe liability or non-compliance risk allowed to create content.associated with customers editing The reasons for not allowingthat content. customers to create content are Interestingly, about 10% of companies usually related to concerns about say their customers are creatingSimilarly, 17% of companies today quality (30%), liability and regulatory documentation and training (andallow customers to create compliance concerns (22%). Lack of publishing them online) without theirdocumentation and training content. management support (18%) and lack approval.CUSTOMER FEEDBACK AND RATINGSWhile the mechanisms put in place to Companies that do it well enjoy manyhelp customers provide feedback benefits, the most valuable include:about documentation and training improved customer support scorescontent vary widely — from old school (47%), improved content qualityapproaches like surveys and (17%), support call deflection (16%),interviews to newer methods like blog reduced support call volume (13%),comments and Facebook-style “likes” and reduced average call handling— organizations that use reactions time (12%).from customers to improve contentquality say they are looking for ways Additional improvements include:to gather immediate feedback. They’re spotting problems with productalso looking for ways to put that design, spotting process problems, asfeedback to good use. well as a reduction in negative feedback and complaints.
    • Adobe FrameMaker Is Most Used Product authoring tools go, FrameMaker is used more than Microsoft Word THE TOP TEN MOST USED (35%) and XMetaL Author (11%). SOFTWARE PRODUCTS Snagit captures the second spot TechSmith Snagit proves to be the 1. Adobe FrameMaker 41% second most popular tool used by technical communication and 2. TechSmith Snagit 35% training pros. 35% of companies that ••• produce technical documentation and 3. Microsoft Word 35% training have it in their tool chest.We asked survey respondents thefollowing question: “What software Microsoft is still in the mix 4. Adobe Acrobat Pro 28%tools does your company use to Microsoft Word is the third most usedcreate, manage and deliver software product. 35% of companies 5. Adobe Captivate 20%documentation and training use Word — often along side othercontent?” authoring tools. Its Office-mate and 6. Adobe RoboHelp 19% code-sharing cousin, PowerPoint alsoAs it turns out, technicalcommunication and training holds a spot in the top ten with 11% of 7. TechSmith Camtasia 12% companies using the software fordepartments use a wide variety of training and other purposes.tools to get the job done. Software 8. XMetaL Author 11%varies based on the type of work Adobe is the dominant forceperformed and the industry sectorserved. 28% of companies surveyed use 9. Microsoft PowerPoint 11% Acrobat Pro to create documentationThe top ten most common tools are and training deliverables, making it 10. Adobe Photoshop 11%manufactured by four companies (see the fourth most commonly used tool.list at right). Adobe leads the pack Adobe also holds the fifth spot withwith five of the top ten tools. Captivate—the most often used screenMicrosoft and TechSmith have two recording tool (20%)—and the sixthtools each on the list; JustSystems spot with online help mainstay,has one. RoboHelp.Adobe FrameMaker is most used XML Authoring with XMetaLCompanies that create technical 11% of companies use XMetaL fordocumentation are most likely to do XML authoring, making it the 8thso with the help of Adobe most used tool among those surveyed.FrameMaker (41%). As far asDISCLAIMER AND ADDITIONAL INFORMATION2012 Technical Communication IndustryBenchmarking Survey SummaryThis is a summary of the 2012 Technical Communication Industry Benchmarking Survey(conducted by The Content Wrangler, Inc.) an informal, web-based survey that comparesresponses from over 500 companies from countries around the globe. The results are notscientific, but do provide us with meaningful data points and help us spot trends. The majority of survey respondents work for firms in thecomputer software and hardware sector (63%), followed by the financial services sector (9%), life sciences and healthcare (9%) ,telecommunication (5%), publishing and media (3%) and others. This summary is provided for informational purposes only. The ContentWrangler, Inc. is not providing advice, nor do we warrant the accuracy or completeness of this information. The results of the survey do not inany way constitute an endorsement or recommendation of any of the brands, methods, products or approaches mentioned. Use due diligencewhenever deciding whether or not to adopt new information management tools, techniques or processes.Questions? Email: scott@thecontentwrangler.com Office: 415.857.2235 The Content WranglerThe Content Wrangler 4153 24th Street Suite 4, San Francisco CA 94114