Best Practices for DITA Implementation

Is yours one of the many organizations that are considering the use of DITA CMS technology for developing, managing, publishing, and reusing content? Are you concerned that a successful DITA CMS implementation will be difficult, if not impossible to achieve in your unique work environment? 

The good news is that DITA implementation is now easier and more hassle-free than ever. With the advent of specialized tools and training methodologies as well as easy access to expert guidance, a successful DITA implementation is an attainable goal for virtually any organization. Using the following DITA implementation tips can further increase the likelihood of a positive outcome.

Develop a Comprehensive Implementation Strategy 

Best practices for DITA implementation stipulate the development of a content and resource implementation strategy prior to choosing a CMS. The steps in effective content strategy creation include:

  •  Deciding what you wish to achieve with your content.
  •  Determining where your content needs to be delivered. 
  •  Maximizing your existing content. 
  • Creating topic templates consisting of standard information content types that you typically use in your organization.

An effective DITA implementation also entails making the most of your manpower resources and preparing your staff for working in a DITA environment. Begin by evaluating your staff members’ strengths and weaknesses to ascertain their levels of DITA knowledge and experience. If you determine your staff is lacking in terms of DITA acumen, considering hiring a DITA consultant to help you manage the transition. 

Choose the Best CMS Technology for Your Organization 

Once you’ve developed your DITA implementation strategy, you’re ready to choose the best the DITA CMS technology for your requirements. Steps in the CMS selection process include:

  • Determine your technology requirements: Identify the technological capabilities your CMS must provide in order to accomplish your DITA implementation objectives. Make a list of “kill criteria,” which are the capabilities you simply cannot live without.
  • Create a short list of suitable CMS products: Begin to explore the various CMS products on the market and make a short list of the ones that meet your requirements from both a technological and cost perspective.
  • Schedule several CMS product demos: Once you’ve settled on a handful of acceptable CMS products, arrange to have the vendors provide demos. Create typical DITA scenarios that impact your organization and ask the vendor to apply them during the demo.
  • Take your chosen CMS for a “test drive”: When you’ve decided on a DITA CMS, arrange for a pilot program so you can test it for a period of time without having to make a long-term commitment. Your pilot should consist of a specific DITA-based project from start to finish. Evaluate the CMS upon completion of the pilot to ensure it meets your content and resource strategy goals.

Collaboration Is Key to a Successful DITA Implementation

As with any major change, a successful DITA implementation will require a collaborative effort from your team. Taking the time to emphasize the many DITA benefits for content management (content reuse, information sharing, reduce content creation/writing time, etc.) can help to foster the collaborative environment that can make the transition much easier.

Contact Vasont Systems for more helpful DITA implementation tips.