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Implementing DITA Solutions using Content Scenarios

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A presentation delivered at DITA Europe 2011 in the beautiful city of Prague. It is primarily about the methodological role that can be played by "content scenarios".

A presentation delivered at DITA Europe 2011 in the beautiful city of Prague. It is primarily about the methodological role that can be played by "content scenarios".


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  • 1. Implementing DITA Solutions using Content Scenarios Joe Gollner | www.gollner.ca | joe@gollner.ca Gnostyx Research | Gnostyx.com | jag@gnostyx.comCopyright © Joe Gollner 2011
  • 2. What is a Content Scenario? In a Nutshell Example of a Content Scenario: A series of individual user stories, interchange events & rendition processes that combine into a meaningful business activity 1. Engineering provides material in MS Word 2. MS Word is transformed into XML Engineering Suppliers 3. XML is exchanged with Suppliers 4. XML input is returned from Suppliers 5. Authoring works with XML sources 6. Authoring produces publications modules 7. Modules exchanged with Translators Authoring Translation 8. Some content provided to Marketing in MS Word 9. Marketing produces sales support tools 10. Sales support tools provided to Resellers 11. Sales support tools provided in MS Word 12. Publication content also provided as dynamic web Marketing Reseller 13. Publications also provided as PDF Manuals
  • 3. Content Scenarios for DITA Solutions: Topics The Stark Reality of CM Projects The challenge of delayed benefits Challenges Specific to DITA Projects Introducing Content Scenarios Definition Origins A Case Study Content Scenarios & DITA Conclusions 1920
  • 4. Franz Kafka – Technical Communicator 1883 – 1924 Prague native One of the most unique writers in any language (he wrote in German) Worked as a civil servant for the Workers’ Accident Insurance Institute Wrote & illustrated works on safety & other topics
  • 5. The Stark Reality of Most CM Projects Typical Content Management Investment Curve Cost Aggregate Cost Productivity Gains & other benefits begin to offset aggregate costs between 18 and 24 months after project initiation (in better cases) Expenditures Gain Time Offset Productivity Hit Typical CM project requires modernization re-investment between 48 and 60 months Productivity after project initiation – meaning the overall investment is never offset
  • 6. The Trouble with Content Management Content Management can be expensive Licensing costs are often high Customization costs are substantially greater (× 5) Impacts on team members can be substantial Infrastructure costs can be very significant Content Management provides general benefits Largely focused on “contingent benefits” in the background • Risk reduction • Improved information discovery & reuse • Streamlined workflows (e.g., translation process facilitation) New services must be deployed to deliver concrete benefits
  • 7. The Challenges with DITA Solutions The Attraction of DITA is its perceived Simplicity Standardized markup practices led to better tool support • DITA Open Toolkit • Commercial products The Reality of DITA is its Sophistication Among the strengths of DITA is its extensibility Leveraging sophisticated features always comes at a cost Many DITA Projects get caught between these poles Pursuing the simplicity of DITA to streamline deployment Leveraging extensibility to address unique needs at a cost Implementations begin to struggle under the tension
  • 8. The Promised Land of Content Management Preferred Content Management Investment Curve Cost Reduced expenditures & productivity hit plus accelerated gains begin to offset Aggregate Cost aggregate costs in less than 12 months (or sooner) Expenditures Gain Time Productivity Hit Offset Flexible architecture supports Productivity continuous evolution instead of cyclic re-investment in modernization – with each evolutionary step being self-funded
  • 9. How do we get there? Content Scenarios Is it possible that there is a Magic Bullet? No, not really. A successful solution still needs a lot of work However, there are best practices that can help Content Scenarios may be the most persistent best practice Content Scenarios – A Definition Content Scenarios are functionally realistic illustrations of content resources and process steps that can be used throughout the content solution lifecycle to maximize investment effectiveness Short form: End-to-end business demonstrations that showcase how content solutions make things better
  • 10. The Anatomy of a Content Scenario What makes up a Content Scenario Functionally realistic content examples • Assembled from real documentation • Sensitive details removed • Support a coherent & compelling story Content scenarios are Content & process models content strategies Background information about you can drive (or kick) • Business context • Key users & stakeholders • Critical requirements Demonstration scripts for key process steps Reference implementations for key process steps
  • 11. The Origins of Content Scenarios Roots extend back to the early 1990s Defense use of standards for complex documentation Normal approach to designing & deploying standards-based applications was shown to be flawed • Defining content models with inadequate contextual information led to problems in prioritizing development & containing costs • Investing heavily in technical platforms did not deliver many benefits & this led to problems in maintaining project funding • Impact of new technologies on business practices led to unforeseen consequences & this led to expensive scope changes Content Scenarios emerged because projects needed to: • Accelerate the exploration of business impacts • Validate needs & priorities before major investments were made
  • 12. The First Step towards a Content Scenario The First Step is a Humble One Functionally realistic content instances • Demonstration content • Illustrating the most representative content and processes • Supported by web-friendly media resources Business Demonstrations • Scripted scenarios for demonstrating business events • End-to-End demonstrations of new capabilities & benefits • Compelling to business executives & stakeholders Let’s Take a Look Anything is better than • A garage, a snow shovel, or a bicycle 
  • 13. The Uses of Content Scenarios Content Analysis tool One way to analyze content is to create sample instances Content model validation & documentation Prevent schemas from becoming divorced from reality Initiative Sales Pitch & Proof of Concept Helping executives understand what is being proposed Reference instances Supporting conversion, development & authoring Testing based on bona fide requirements Tool evaluation, solution acceptance, regression testing Interoperability & conformance validation
  • 14. Content Scenarios & the Project Lifecycle Content Scenarios & Content Solution the Project Lifecycle Implementation Lifecycle Relative Level of Investment Execution Management Strategy Acquisition Delivery Evolution Relative Investment in Content Scenarios Early Investment in Content Scenarios used to maintain focus on business goals
  • 15. Content Scenarios in the Real World: A Case Supremely challenging requirements Integrating multiple sources Supporting multiple standards DITA adopted as master representation Required extensive use of DITA specialization Challenges arose around: • Ensuring compatibility with product capabilities • Controlling development costs Content Scenarios used for • Prioritizing specializations • Establishing product test sets
  • 16. Content Scenarios & DITA DITA and Content Scenarios are naturally aligned The real attraction of DITA is enabling systems that evolve • Rapid project ramp up leveraging unspecialized DITA & DITA OT • Specialize solution to address unique requirements • Enables capabilities can be developed rapidly & iteratively refined Content Scenarios offer benefits to DITA projects Substantiate need for specializations with real examples Ground specializations in validated requirements Provide test library for refining specialized functionality Used to document & exemplify specializations Validate behaviour of DITA products in real circumstances
  • 17. The Benefits of Content Scenarios Leveraging Content Scenarios in DITA Projects A mechanism for engaging the whole team • Writers & illustrators as well as information architects & developers Ensures the focus stays on end-to-end processes & outputs • Emphasizes investments that realize new products & services Enables a learning process by engaging users & clients • Feedback mechanisms drive ongoing investments Content Scenarios build bridges with Stakeholders Engaging stakeholders, especially executives, is key • The importance of this is always under-estimated Engaging tool providers is almost as important • Aligning product evolution with key business drivers
  • 18. Content Scenarios & the DITA Standard Standards are susceptible to numerous risks A key one is runaway innovation • Innovations driven by edge-case applications • Innovations worked out initially in the standard Runaway innovation poses challenges to: • Customers managing solution investments • Implementers supporting integrated solutions • Technology vendors evolving product lines Content Scenarios can help Expand the stakeholder community in innovation process Provide real-world substantiation for prioritizing innovations Identify innovations that need time to mature…
  • 19. Making Connections Joe Gollner joe@gollner.ca Gnostyx Research jag@gnostyx.com www.gnostyx.com Fractal Enterprise Blog www.gollner.ca