Roles and Responsibilities in a DITA-Authoring Environment

Is your organization considering making the move to a DITA-authoring and publishing environment? DITA publishing and authoring offers important benefits, such as the ability to reuse content across multiple publications and easy access to a wide range of metadata elements — both at the topic level and within the elements themselves.

This month, we asked Vasont CMS user Deb Bissantz, Technology Lead from LSI Corporation, for her tips on the roles needed when moving to a content management strategy. As LSI’s Technology Lead, Deb’s responsibilities include: CMS administration, structured template maintenance, WebWorks ePublisher stationery maintenance, and training. Deb is also an active member of the DITA Technical Committee and the DITA Adoption Committee. Here are Deb’s tips:

Consider a resource strategy as well as a content strategy.

While DITA publishing will provide many long-term organizational benefits, transitioning to a DITA environment can offer some initial challenges. Deb points out the need to develop a well-crafted implementation strategy, including a careful evaluation of your staff.

“Working in a DITA-authoring environment requires specific skills and responsibilities. Several individuals might share the required skills and responsibilities. If you are moving to a DITA-authoring environment, consider a resource strategy as well as a content strategy. Review the skill set of individuals currently in the department. You might need to hire individuals or consultants with DITA experience to collaborate with in-house personnel. You will need DITA experience for the following roles:

  • Information Architect or Content Strategist
  • Technical Lead or Publishing Expert
  • Conversion Specialist
  • Trainer
  • Technical Editor
  • Content Management Specialist”

Plan for change.

Deb also provides some helpful guidelines for planning for the changing roles and responsibilities in a DITA-authoring environment.

“As you progress through your DITA implementation, the roles and responsibilities will change. The roles and responsibilities required during the investigation process are significantly different than the roles and responsibilities required for a fully established DITA-authoring environment. As you are developing your resource strategy, consider the following guidelines:

  • One or more individuals might assume responsibilities for a single role.
  • One individual might assume responsibility for one or more roles.
  • Individuals might change roles as your DITA implementation progresses.
  • Responsibilities for a role might change as your DITA implementation progresses.
  • You might need to outsource some of the responsibilities.”

Establish a collaborative working environment.

Finally, Deb touches upon the need to foster a collaborative working environment to ensure a successful DITA implementation.

“Whether you provide in-house personnel with advanced DITA training or hire DITA experts to guide your DITA implementation, establishing a collaborative working environment is essential. All individuals involved in the DITA implementation work together sharing the vision and planning of the implementation process. The implementation process is enriched when the individuals involved meet regularly to share ideas, discuss goals, troubleshoot issues and create solutions.”

Call us at 717-764-9720 or visit our website for valuable DITA-authoring tips, as well as for help getting started with your content management strategy.