Which Content Should I Convert to a Structured Format (XML)?

Making the decision to implement a component content management strategy for your technical documentation can result in big savings and flexibility in the editorial, translation, and publishing cycles for an organization. It also means that you must convert your content to a structured format – XML – to make it all happen successfully. But there are multiple important factors to consider when implementing an XML content solution.

Deciding what to convert…and what not to convert.

Now you face a huge amount of content in various formats – Word files, desktop publishing files, help files, website files – and you wonder where to begin. Should you convert everything? If not, how do you decide which content should be converted and which should not? Here are a few tips to help you make the decision:

Start with today.

This one is obvious…you need the content for the products your organization is currently selling. So this is a good place to start – put these files at the top of your conversion list. This is also a good time to weed out obsolete documents pertaining to products that your company no longer offers.

Convert the favorites.

Do a survey of your internal and external customers and find out which documents they use frequently. You may find that you can pare down the number of documents to convert because you may be producing some documentation that is of little value to your customers. There is no point in spending time and money to convert documents—or produce them, for that matter—that your customers rarely use. Convert the most frequently used documents first; this is where you will find the fastest return on investment.

Don’t forget the long-lived.

Some documents have a longer life span than others, and this content may still be valuable to your customers. This might include manuals, parts catalogs or training courses for older, popular products. Consider these documents for conversion; it might be faster and cheaper to convert these documents than to try to recreate them later. As for other legacy documents, convert them only if you need them.

If it’s reusable, convert it.

If yours is like many organizations, you probably have a great deal of content that is used repeatedly in various formats. Converting reusable content can generate a significant return on investment, too. So, if you have content that is translated into multiple languages, published to multiple output formats, or used in several different product lines, convert it. You’ll see big savings.

Choose the best CMS after converting to XML.

An XML content management solution from Vasont Systems can consolidate and organize your content for maximum reuse. We can also provide more valuable tips to ensure a smooth and seamless conversion. Call us at 717-764-9720 or visit our website for help in getting started with your content management strategy.