Shepherding Your Content for Operational Efficiency
 

Shepherding Your Content for Operational Efficiency

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Learn about how to get the most from your content by focusing on the efficient of your terminology. Terminology affects structured authoring, translation, and more. Find out the dirty little secret ...

Learn about how to get the most from your content by focusing on the efficient of your terminology. Terminology affects structured authoring, translation, and more. Find out the dirty little secret about corporate style guides. Learn what you need to do to maintain your brand without losing your mind.

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  • [Note to Tim – Can we add a little twitter birdie with @contentrulesinc on it to this slide? DONE.Second note to Tim: Should I add a “tell ‘emwhatchagonna tell ‘em slide” at the beginning and a “tell ‘emwhatcha told ‘em slide” at the end? I THINK YOU’VE DONE THAT ON SLIDE #2. I’VE ADDED A SUMMARY SLIDEThird note to Tim: Do I need any type of introduction to who I am or what we do? Or shall we assume I’m so famous now that we don’t need to do that? DONE. SEE SLIDE #3
  • Who has had their budgets cut?Who has had their team cut?Who has had to use less-expensive resources?Everyone is being asked to do more with the same. Or to do more with less. What I am going to talk about today are some of the ways that operational efficiency impacts contentSome common pitfalls, some things we forget aboutThe quest for operational efficiency is nothing new. Since the industrial revolution, our society has been single-minded in its quest to get more out of everything. More cars produced by the same production line. More and bigger crops harvested in the same amount of acreage. More clothing sewn by machine than by hand. Fast-forward to the technology revolution and the object is the same. Communicate with more people, more quickly using email. Update more friends at one time using Facebook. Immediately share all of your presentations using SlideShare. Technology has made us more efficient, automating the production lines that the industrial revolution allowed us to build.
  • ** Tim - Can you animate this so that there is a darker blue that “reads” the sentence – do you know what I mean?
  • Tools to help us gain operational efficiency in writing and publication:ShorthandTypewritersIBM Selectric with changeable fonts!Word processorsAutogenerated TOCs, LOTs, LOFs, and IndexesSpellcheckers, grammar checkersXML/DITAStyle sheets, meta data, semantics, reuse, multipurpose, multiwriter, multipublishWrite once, use manyThe past 20 years have seen a huge acceleration of the tools that we have at our disposal.What About Content?Now, let’s get back to content. Over the years, we have created and implemented many tools to help us gain operational efficiency in writing and publication. Shorthand allowed us to take notes more efficiently than writing in longhand. Typewriters made the process of writing even easier. Electric typewriters were more efficient still. And, for now, computer technology is the crowning achievement in operational efficiency for creating content. Someday, I hope to just think about what I have to write and have some device automagically pull the content right out of my head without me even having to speak or type it.Over the past 10 to 15 years, we have invented fast and efficient ways to create indexes, glossaries, and tables of contents. We have automated spell-checking to efficiently catch our spelling errors. All editing software includes automated ways to switch fonts and styles on the fly, quickly and easily. If you’re old enough, you’ll remember the days of the IBM Selectric typewriter. It had changeable balls with different fonts. Compare manually switching the little font balls to using style sheets and tagging text so that the styles automatically change based on the style sheet you choose. Wickedly fast. Super-efficient.These days, we implement XML and DITA to get more out of the same content resources. When we combine these technologies with a content management system (CMS), we can create relatively small chunks of content and then repurpose them in a variety of ways: additional documents, different webpages, information for mobile devices, and more. “Write once, use many” is the goal of current authoring technologies. That way, we get more uses for the same chunk of content we’ve written. It makes perfect sense.
  • Why, then, are we still in the dark ages when it comes to managing terminology?Most companies don’t know what it means to manage terminology.Those that do manage it in the most inefficient ways possible.With all of the advancements in technology that help us to get more and more out of the same content, why is it that when it comes to managing terminology, most companies are still in the Dark Ages? In fact, most companies don’t know what it means to manage terminology, let alone manage it efficiently. And even those who understand that it is efficient to manage terminology tend to manage that terminology in the most inefficient ways possible.
  • When I was 10 years old, my language arts teacher taught me to vary language…“Language arts” was the subject. Writing was an art.Showing off your vocabulary was rewarded.But in business, this is inefficient.Everyone in your organization who creates, works with, and reads content needs to use consistent terminolgy.That is EVERYONE in your company.But let’s talk about how.Simply put, enforcing consistent terminology increases the operational efficiency of everyone in your organization who creates, works with, and reads content. That encompasses just about everyone.
  • How many ways can you say the same thing? LOTS of ways.What if you are selling an animal that is man’s best friend.You can use all of these words (and there are probably more).And if we use all of those different ways, it is inefficient. Your readers get confused. They call your technical support department. They say nasty things about your company on boards and forums. It just gets ugly.Writing teachers told us to vary our language, use different words to say the same thing. It’s more colorful, less repetitive. But it is inefficient to use different words to describe the same thing. Are you selling a dog? A canine? A puppy? A cocker spaniel? If you pick one and stick to it, you are more efficient when you write. Your readers can read much more efficiently. Your technical support department won’t have to answer questions again that are already described on the website. Everyone involved benefits when you can do more with the same words.
  • Let’s talk about reusability, XML and CMS systemsIf your content creators do not use the same words to describe the same things, how can you put chunks of content together to create deliverables?Paragraph one describes how to hold the dog.Paragraph two discusses how to groom the puppy.Paragraph three is about feeding the canine.The appendix is about training the poodle.These things do not hold together. We have to break the old rules. You cannot expect to realize the gains of structured authoring efficiency if you are not efficient with the words. It is really that simple. You can have a plethora of metadata and tag all of your content chunks. But if the terminology is not consistent on your new webpage when I read it, you were not efficient and I cannot proceed efficiently, either. I’m too easily confused and waste too much time trying to understand what you are trying to say.
  • Let’s stretch operational efficiency all the way through translation.Translation tools have become quite sophisticated.Translation memory – Pairing of source [English] content with translated content. Stored in a database.Translate ONCE, pay for ONCE, use many manymany – but only if you used the same words.NEXT SLIDE!!Let’s stretch operational efficiency in content creation all the way through translation. Translation tools have come a long way. When used properly, these tools make the process of translating content much cheaper and faster, and the resulting translation is much higher quality.One of the efficiency-improving translation tools is translation memory (TM). A translation pair contains the term or phrase in the source language and in the target language. The translation pairs are stored in the TM, a database for future use.The next time the translation tool encounters the same sentence, the tool automatically substitutes the already-translated pair in the translation. The translator doesn’t have to re-translate something that has already been translated. And that is operational efficiency.However – and this is important – if you used a different word or phrase to describe the same thing, that new word or phrase will not be in the TM and must now be translated. If you are not consistent in your terminology, the translation process is more time-consuming, more expensive, and more error-prone. If you use the same word to mean the same thing every time you say it, the translation will follow. If you use the same sentence to describe the same concept every time, you only need to pay for the translation once. This lowers your overall translation costs. It speeds time to market (fewer review cycles) and the quality of the output goes way up.
  • So, using translation memory, you can achieve the ultimate trifecta:FasterCheaperBetterTranslationsBut, that is ONLY if you use consistent terminology in your English source. If you change-up your words, you don’t achieve translation nirvana.If you say things differently every time, it is slower to translate – more iterations back and forth with the in-country reviewers.It is more costly – Not necessary in price per word, but in terms of manhours spent iterating during review.The quality goes down – imagine how this exponentiates as you add more and more lanuages.The next time the translation tool encounters the same sentence, the tool automatically substitutes the already-translated pair in the translation. The translator doesn’t have to re-translate something that has already been translated. And that is operational efficiency.However – and this is important – if you used a different word or phrase to describe the same thing, that new word or phrase will not be in the TM and must now be translated. If you are not consistent in your terminology, the translation process is more time-consuming, more expensive, and more error-prone. If you use the same word to mean the same thing every time you say it, the translation will follow. If you use the same sentence to describe the same concept every time, you only need to pay for the translation once. This lowers your overall translation costs. It speeds time to market (fewer review cycles) and the quality of the output goes way up.
  • Two ways to manage terminology:Pull PushIf they manage terminology, most companies use the pull method.This is the most inefficient method of all.Word or Excel term lists and/or style guides.Process:I write my content. • At some point during the writing or editing process, I look at one of my terms and I think, “Gosh, I wonder if I should be using dog instead of puppy? Or is it canine? Maybe it’s just puppy?”• I stop what I’m doing and get the term list. This is easy if I know where to find it or it could be a needle in my corporate intranet haystack.• I look up the word. Is it listed under puppy? Canine? Dog? I search for it.• I find it and see that I’m using/not using the correct word. If necessary, I go back to my document and replace the word. • Or, I don’t find it in the list of terms, so I figure it is a term I don’t have to care about and I just wasted all of that valuable time.[NEXT SLIDE]It is clear that managing terminology yields tremendous increases in operational efficiency on many levels. But is the process of managing the terminology itself efficient?The answer to this question is almost always a resounding “No!” Most companies use the most inefficient and arcane methods to manage terminology, if they are managing it at all. The most common tool used to manage terminology in the content creation world is an Excel spreadsheet or a Microsoft Word table. Usually, it is called a term list or a word list. Sometimes terminology is combined with instructions (also in Word or Excel) about the company rules on how to use the words. This is called a style guide.
  • But here’s the thing:No one uses style guides.No one.They are way too inefficient. There is no way for me to memorize the style guide.I don’t have the time.I have deadlines.Most style guides and term lists are created and managed using the most outdated, inefficient tools on the market. The process of adding words to the term list is completely manual. And, even worse, the process of verifying words against the term list is also completely manual. You might as well be using a legal pad and a pen, and storing everything in a three-ring binder.To illustrate, the most common workflow for verifying terminology goes something like this:•This process is the definition of operational inefficiency. I must stop my process to try to remember if I just wrote a word that my company cares about. Then I have to look it up manually in a list where I don’t know if I will find it or not. Finally, I might have to act on that information, or maybe not.Here’s the dirty little secret about Word and Excel term lists and style guides: No one uses them. That’s right. No one. Maybe a new content developer refers to a list for the first deliverable. But after that, no one has the time to keep looking things up. In the quest to do more with the same resources, most writers and editors simply don’t have the luxury of time to use an inefficient, time-consuming, manual process. It just doesn’t happen.
  • Push method:The ideal tool should do these things:• Store all the managed terms in a database.• Link the approved term to all the disallowed terms.• Automatically, at the touch of a button, check the content and compare every word to the terminology database.• Flag every term that is incorrectly used.• Suggest the term that should be used in its place.• Keep the entire process within the authoring environment, without having to launch any other application or search anywhere else.And if you want to get really fancy and uber-efficient, you also want a tool that will interface with your translation
  • Tim – Do you think there is a visual we can use for this? Instead of the bullets? Or just pick one bullet like have happy customers? or do you think they need some bullets at the end?Companies using sophisticated terminology management tools:• Spend less time writing.• Use editing resources in much more effective ways.• Create better quality content in all languages.• Spend 15-40% less money on translation.• Get to market faster.• Field fewer technical support calls.• Have happier customers.So, what are you waiting for?

Shepherding Your Content for Operational Efficiency Shepherding Your Content for Operational Efficiency Presentation Transcript

  • Shepherding Your Content for Operational Efficiency Val Swisher, CEO Content Rules @contentrulesinc
  • Definition Operational Efficiency Doing more with the same resources.
  • Who am I? Content Rules An amazing collection of people who help great clients create fabulous content and get it ready for global consumption.
  • Operational Efficiency is Not New
  • What About Terminology Management?
  • How? Consistent Terminology Increases Operational Efficiency
  • How Many Ways Can You Say: Dog Puppy Canine Poodle
  • Why? What About XML and Reuse? “You Cannot Realize the Gains of Structured Authoring Efficiency if You are Not Efficient with Words” - me.
  • Operational Efficiency and Translation
  • How? Translation Trifecta
  • But How? Pull Push
  • Dirty Little Secret No one uses style guides. That’s right. No one.
  • Right Tools Using the right tools, you will • Spend less time writing • Use editing resources more effectively • Create better quality content in all languages • Spend 15-40% less money on translation • Get to market faster • Field fewer technical support calls • Have happier customers
  • So What are You Waiting For?
  • write. read. search. tweet. © Content Rules, Inc. All rights reserved. vals@contentrules.com www.contentrules.com/blog www.contentrules.com @ContentRulesInc Shepherding Your Content for Operational Efficiency