Let’s Not Reinvent the Steam Engine: Process Changes with Structured Authoring

This blog post is about your business processes, particularly those surrounding the ways your content is authored, managed, approved, and published. Think about the way those processes look today: the people involved, the tools you use, and finally the workflow, whether that’s an ad-hoc peer review or a highly formalized set of approval gates and feedback loops. What are some words that you might use to describe those processes today? If you’re like a lot of your peers, chances are you came up with something like the following: InflexibleTime-consumingNon-collaborativeSiloed Sound familiar? We’ll talk in a moment about how some of those challenges can be addressed. But first, I want to tell you a story. The Industrial Revolution During the late 18th and early 19th centuries, factories sprung up throughout Great Britain. These were most notably involved in the production of textiles to feed the British global trade empire. Gains in productivity (and eventually standards of living) were enormous, as machines were used to weave fabrics much faster than any human hand could. All of these machines were powered by a recent and wondrous invention: the steam engine. To deliver power to the individual machines, the factory had to be configured in a very specific way. There would generally be a centrally-located steam engine, which would turn crankshafts that ran then length of the factory floor. Then, leather straps were used to power each machine. It was a bit dangerous – many workers lost one of more fingers to these contraptions – and it looked something like this: Factories were frequently multi-floor facilities, built that way to accommodate as many rows of...

Starting Small with Structured Content Management

LearningDITA.com provides e-learning for individuals who want to explore DITA, the Darwin Information Typing Architecture. The platform was set up by Scriptorium as a hub for DITA and content strategy training. Chad Dybdahl, our Senior Solutions Consultant, gave a webinar on March 1, 2018 explaining how to get started with with structured content management. WATCH THE VIDEO...

Starting Small with Structured Content Management

Getting started with structured content management can be daunting: you’ve been tasked with completely overhauling your organization’s content strategy. There are so many things to consider that deciding where to begin can seem like one of your biggest challenges. There are plenty of clichés appropriate to this situation: the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step, don’t try to boil the ocean, and so on. By thinking about the project as a whole, it’s easy to become overwhelmed.  In this article, I’ll give you some ideas for getting started in small, manageable steps, without ever losing sight of your vision. Step 1: Articulate your vision Always be ready with an “elevator pitch” for exactly why structured authoring is important for your organization. Is your goal to drive down localization costs? Promote consistency in your content and increase speed to market? Single sourcing? Most DITA projects start with goals like that – ROI driven examples of “doing more with less.” There are, however, some loftier goals you can set for yourself. Maybe you want to deliver a knowledge base with faceted search to empower your customers (and, by the way, take pressure off your call center). If you’re really looking to the future, you might start thinking about how artificial intelligence can drive new experiences for your customers with chatbots that learn on the fly. Write this vision down in a nice bold font, and talk about it whenever you can. It’s what should be driving every decision you make from now on. Step 2: Pick the right pilot project It is impossible to stress enough the importance of picking...