A review can be a complex thing to manage. And when you have component-based content and reviewers who want to review the full document – let’s be honest, most of us do – then the process of getting the approved review comments back into your components can be a very time-consuming task.
So, there is a lot to gain by streamlining and automating this process as much as we can… without losing full control.
With the new features in Dx4 called Compound Doc Publishing and Sync Components, we can take major steps in reducing complexity, saving time and manual effort. Let’s break the process down into five steps – well actually three of them are not much more than clicking a button or two… and getting coffee.
The goal of the review is to have a component library in Dx4 that is up-to-date at the beginning and end of all review cycles. This allows us the security of having a full version history for each cycle and allows to repeat the cycle as many times as needed.
In order to achieve that, we really only need two roles:
- A Content Architect that knows his way around Dx4 and can kick off the review and sync the results back to Dx4.
- A group of subject matter experts (SMEs) and other reviewers that are responsible for the content to be current and correct with their expert knowledge.
To complete a full review cycle there are generally five steps to complete, and only two of them involve the SMEs:
- The Content Architect publishes the relevant components into full Word document.
- The Content Architect makes the Word document available to a selection of relevant reviewers and notifies them of the deadline for commenting.
- The reviewers add their comments in the document allowing full visibility of each-others comments to prevent duplication of effort and possibly even allow questions to be answered already during commenting.
- Reviewers meet to go over the comments and make decisions on which comments to accept and reject.
- The Content Architect automatically syncs the changes back into the components library to ensure that Dx4 is fully up to date.
At Dita Exchange we have two main objectives with these new features:
- Making sure that reviewers can perform their review with as few changes as possible to the process and tools they are used to. Reviewers can be very a large group of colleagues, and most of them have busy schedules in very different fields of expertise that does not leave time for learning to use new tools for reviews.
- Automating as much as possible for the Content Architect. People working in this role are knowledgeable about the component structure, connections in the content and how Dx4 will process it, but they are not experts on the finer details of the content. So, automation serves two purposes for the Content Architect:
- It ensures correctness, eliminating copy/paste errors and rewriting of SMEs detailed knowledge.
- It saves time allowing the Content Architect to focus on ensuring optimal reuse and connections in the content.
Now, let’s dig deeper into each step of the process.
Publish Compound Document
The first step is for the Content Architect to publish the document to be reviewed. Allowing for later automating the process of getting the changes synchronized into the components in Dx4, is literally as easy as checking a box. In DxPublisher checking the Compound Document option will ensure that the output has all the necessary information to complete the roundtrip back into the component library. With a simple flow created in Power Automate, the Content Architect can ensure that the compound document is automatically moved to dedicated review library that allows for collaborative writing and commenting.
If required, the Content Architects lock parts of the document completely, so the reviewers cannot modify this content, he can allow only comments or he can leave it open for reviewers to rephrase, add and delete the content using change tracking. Everything can be flexibly controlled at the component level – even though the reviewers will be seeing a full document.
Send Out for Review
With the document in place the second step is to notify the reviewers about the review, it’s deadline and possibly add some instructions on what to review for.
Power Automate can handle this very smoothly and pick the relevant reviewers based on e.g. the document type, but it can also be controlled by the Content Architect who can manually select reviewers, set a deadline and send out the notification in Teams or via email.
Review with Real-Time Comments
The Subject Matter Experts can now start reviewing the content. Because the document is stored in a SharePoint library configured with collaborative authoring, the reviewers will be able to see each other’s comments as they are entered into the document. If they are working at the same time, they will even see each other typing and making modifications using change tracking.
This prevents duplication of effort and possibly even allow questions to be answered already during commenting phase of the review.
Reviewers don’t always agree, and sometimes their comments can point in different directions. Consequently, most review processes require the Subject Matter Experts to meet and discuss comments and proposed changes.
Using out-of-the-box Word reviewing tool fit nicely with Dx4. You can accept and reject changes, answer comments, and mark them as resolved in the Compound Document before you send your changes back to the component library in Dx4. Some processes require that you document the items raised in the review – also those that are rejected. If that is the case, you simply sync the Compound Document to the Dx4 library before you accept and reject proposed changes. And then you can Sync it again after the review meeting when decisions have been made. This way you will have a full version history for both comments made before the meeting, and decisions made in the review meeting.
Sync Changes back to Dx4
When the review is complete, and the content is ready to go back into Dx4, the Content Architect automatically syncs the changes back into the components library to ensure that Dx4 is fully up to date.
When doing so, he can control processing in multiple ways:
- Ensuring that only components in draft state are update
- Automatically removing comments that may have been left in the compound document
- Removing certain components that should not be updated in the component library
Once the sync completes, the component library is updated and reflect alle changes agreed in the review meeting and present in the Compound Document. Any components that are reused in multiple document models will thereby be updated for all the relevant documents.
The review loop has been completed. If your process requires multiple reviews, you can simply initiate a new loop with a second group of reviewers. If not, your document is ready to be placed into approved state and bumped to the next major version. This can be done with a single selection to start the approval of the document model and all components that used for that document… while you are getting coffee.