White paper dita for everyone

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White paper dita for everyone

  1. 1. + DITA For Everyone + It’s not just for Tech Pubs! Using DITA-based knowledge, experience, and tools to help the whole organization succeed.
  2. 2. 2 1 ç + DITA FOR EVERYONE It’s not just for Tech Pubs! In the corporate world, the technical made by technical publications organizations, publications department is often viewed as a the rest of the enterprise has not benefited from cost center, necessary as a provider of content the potential advantages of moving content to a to support a packaged product or service standards-based environment. offering, but having no value to the core revenue generation functions of the enterprise. As a result, technical publications managers must fight hard to get the budget for any new technologies and must be prepared to show strong ROI arguments to justify those investments. Is this a missed opportunity? Why hasn't DITA’s success been replicated by other corporate organizations that produce content? Why aren’t other departments leveraging the skills and knowledge of the technical publications staff to increase their own value to the enterprise? This paper will highlight some of the potential Over the last decade, the implementation of the benefits for these "other" corporate DITA standard has greatly optimized the organizations as they interact with the technical creation, management, and publishing of publications department, and provide some technical content. DITA-based tools and insights into how they can achieve similar processes have resulted in dramatic cost productivity gains. savings and process improvements. However, despite the large investment of time and money
  3. 3. 2 1 + Intro duction “Content is king.” You’ve heard it said in many corporate boardrooms. With the increasing popularity of online search And yet, despite the clear and proven benefits of engines, cloud-based software, and mobile DITA, not much else has changed for those devices, the need to access relevant and technical publications departments from a useful content has never been more urgent. cultural perspective across the enterprise. The And yet, the people responsible for producing success of a departmental DITA implementation the technical information that supports rarely extends beyond organizational products made by these companies are often boundaries to be replicated in other hidden deep within the Engineering or IT departments. In most cases, other organizations organizations, struggling for respect and do not recognize the benefits of DITA for their relevance as they compete for budgetary own content, and they are somewhat fearful of survival. the costs and time required to successfully In their efforts to provide the most useful, rich, implement a DITA solution for production use. and effective content in the shortest possible This paper will illustrate four timeframe and for the lowest possible cost, scenarios where the technical many technical publications groups have publications departments can use embraced the DITA standard. By moving away their DITA-based knowledge, from proprietary authoring and publishing experience, and tools to support tools that require years to master, and by cross-organizational success adopting standards-based approaches to across the enterprise, including: content creation, management, and multichannel publishing, these writing • Product Engineering departments have been able to dramatically • Marketing reduce cost and increase efficiency related to • One DITA implementation at a Fortune 500 technology company resulted in 40% reduction in product documentation costs. By reusing 80-90% of their content, the company reduced product development time by 4-6 weeks and localization costs by $800K per project. Customer support/field support the content life cycle. Structuring corporate technical content into • Training/Education reusable “components” (tasks, concepts, For each of these scenarios, we will describe the topics), DITA-based environments have typical current environment, the potential resulted in dramatic cost savings and faster benefits of DITA-based collaboration with the time-to-market. As industry success stories technical publications staff, and illustrate with pile up, the proof is clear: DITA is a winning examples based on real-life success stories with proposition for managing the process of the easyDITA™ platform for authoring, producing technical publications. management, and publishing of DITA content.
  4. 4. 2 1 + Product Engineering Typical Current Environment In a typical technical publication process, a writer will Content Review interact with engineers and/or subject matter experts Again, there is often no formal tracking process to (SMEs) in several phases of development: to gather initial determine the status of SME content review. Engineers specifications in order to produce draft content and to are often busy with development project tasks, and facilitate the content review by the engineer/SME. There are review of technical documentation is not always often problems associated with each of these phases: prioritized as highly as these other responsibilities. Content contribution SMEs typically do not follow a structured process for Therefore, review comments are typically late and often incomplete. sending initial content to the writer. If the writer is lucky, The most common mechanism for SME content review is there will be formal specification documents that are for a writer to send MS-Word or PDF documents via email managed by version control and follow an approved format. to each stakeholder in the review process. Each reviewer If the writer is not as fortunate, the contribution can range provides comments and edits to their own copy of the file from a myriad of Word documents, email messages, Wiki and returns the edited version to the writer. Once all discussions, and even handwritten notes. comments are received, it is up to the writer to face the Often, there is no formal tracking mechanism in place to determine if complete, up-to-date information has been provided to the writer. If specifications are modified, the writer often finds out too late (if at all). challenge of consolidating these comments into one final document - and even acting as a referee when comments from different reviewers are not in agreement.
  5. 5. + Benefits of a DITA Environment A technology platform based on DITA can help address many of the issues with content contribution and content review: A DITA component-based content management system Example: The easyDITA content management system has powerful versioning and notification features. This screenshot shows a topic’s version history, indicating who to notify if this content is updated in the future. provides a centralized storage area, with versioning to track content as it is updated in the system. Imagine if functional specifications were authored in DITA and stored in a centralized repository: if a specification was changed, an automatic notification could immediately be sent to the technical writer. A collaborative workflow environment helps the writer to determine who has completed their review tasks and who is overdue. It also helps facilitate the management of comments from multiple reviewers and encourage online collaboration to resolve discrepancies. Example: easyDITA has robust automated workflow features, including an intuitive browser-based review tool for SMEs to easily add comments and edits to content, and reporting to show status of outstanding review tasks.
  6. 6. + Marketing Typical Current Environment Marketing departments do not usually What’s the issue? have much interaction with technical Some of the issues that marketing publications groups. Marketing organizations face include: deliverables are vastly different from product manuals, which tend to follow a standardized, usually simple, format. In contrast, marketing brochures, newsletters, catalogs, and data sheets are highly graphical in nature and very layout-intensive. Some marketing content is targeted for web delivery (e.g., blog postings, websites, etc.), while other deliverables are primarily print-based. Due to these factors, marketing organizations use a variety of tools to produce their end deliverables, ranging from simple web editors like WordPress to highly sophisticated layout tools like Adobe InDesign. The variety of content creation tools make it inefficient to produce multiple output formats. For example, a brochure may have to be designed and produced with a layout tool and then adapted later for delivery to web or mobile devices. Many companies serve a global audience and have a need to produce multilingual marketing collateral. Because marketing content is usually developed in different formats (e.g., Adobe InDesign files, HTML, MS-Word, etc.), it can be costly and time-consuming to translate these deliverables into other languages with the proper layouts.
  7. 7. + Benefits of a DITA Environment A DITA-based platform provides marketing organizations with an efficient way to produce multiple outputs for web and print in multiple languages from a single source. Multi-channel publishing Because DITA is based on “format-neutral” XML markup; the written content can be created once and transformed to the required output formats in an automated way. Tools exist to easily flow XML content into desktop publishing applications for further layout, while delivery to online formats like HTML5 for delivery to the web and to mobile devices can be completely automated. Multi-channel publishing from the same source DITA content at the click of a button from the easyDITA component content management system. Multi-lingual output DITA is a highly efficient format for content localization. Most professional translation service providers have experience working with XML/DITA (and usually prefer it!) When you receive localized DITA content back from your localization vendor, you can use the same automated publishing processes for your target languages as you do for your source language. With easyDITA you can export and import content to and from your translation partner for an end-to-end localization workflow.
  8. 8. Customer Support In our experience, we’ve seen a mystifying phenomenon at many large corporations: The customer support organizations use issue-tracking systems and knowledgebases to troubleshoot problems logged by customers, while technical writing departments produce manuals that are designed to help customers avoid having to call customer support in the first place. Even though it seems logical that there would be a symbiotic relationship between these two organizations, in many companies these departments are completely isolated from each other and do not share information! Benefits of a DITA Environment A DITA-based platform provides significant benefits to both the product support and documentation organizations: Because the technical writing teams typically create DITA content at a topic level (e.g., task), they can provide very discrete units of information that are highly targeted and easy to query against. If the support organization could get direct access to these DITA topics, imagine how much easier and more efficient it would be to troubleshoot an issue! Support engineers could provide valuable feedback to the technical writing team. If a support person finds mistakes or incomplete information in a task, they could add comments to the DITA topic and send it back to the original writer for editing and incorporation into the next product release. This leads to potentially significant cost savings and higher customer satisfaction, because people would not require as much customer support if the technical documentation is more accurate and understandable. Example: easyDITA integrates with the intelligent content portal SuiteShare, which can be configured as a support troubleshooting tool using technical content authored in easyDITA. The illustration above shows an example of SuiteShare configured to help customers self-diagnose an issue.
  9. 9. 2 1 + Training/Education Typical Current Environment Benefits of a DITA Environment In another example of the “islands of content” dilemma, a The primary benefits of migrating your training content corporate training/education department is usually under a to DITA are localization and consistency: completely separate (often revenue-based) department within the enterprise. Even though the educational content Localization: By “chunking” your content into being developed typically has a high percentage of overlap reusable topics, you will only have to translate the with the content produced by technical publications, there is individual topics that have changed since the last commonly very little content reuse between technical localization cycle. Furthermore, because the content is publications and training departments. In many cases, marked up in format-neutral XML and can then be learning content is developed redundantly to the technical automatically rendered to several output formats, you publications content, and is often stored in a completely will no longer have to pay a localization service provider different repository or Learning Management System (LMS). for desktop publishing (DTP) in your target languages. If the educational content is being developed for a global These 2 factors have been shown to reduce localization audience and needs to be localized, this content is also sent costs by an average of 70% for many technical out for a separate translation, at a real cost to the company. publications groups! Consistency: Most popular tools in the “learning” space (such as PowerPoint or Captivate) give the course developer many creative liberties. As a result, the final output from different courseware creators can look quite different, thus diminishing your brand recognition.
  10. 10. 7 More Habits of Highly Successful DITA Teams 1. DITA encourages the writing of concise topics that can easily be assembled in any order. For example, a training department could use a DITA specialization to reuse technical writing topics and leverage it for educational purposes. 2. DITA conditional processing allows one set of content to automatically produce documents with different uses, like instructor and student guides. 3. Because DITA is format-neutral, the same source content can be automatically output as print-ready manuals, PowerPoint slides, or optimized for a tablet device. 4. The separation of content from presentation (style, format) frees writers to concentrate on what they do best: create valuable content...instead of spending time adjusting fonts and troubleshooting layout issues. 5. DITA/XML content is highly desirable as a language translation format. If technical publications topics are already translated, other departments will not have to spend as much money “re-translating” the content for their needs. 6. If the DITA repository is robust enough, there may be no need to invest in setting up and maintaining a separate content management systems like an LMS, easing the burden (and associated cost) related to IT support. 7. A powerful DITA repository can also manage video and multimedia content that could be shared by both the technical publications and other organizations. + Jorsek LLC 302 N. Goodman St. e201 Rochester, NY 14607 (877) 492-2960 easyDITA.com

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