Getting a Little Respect for Technical Writing

Technical writers sometimes feel like the ugly step-child. They have too much work, and there’s never enough staff to do everything that must be done. And, the work was needed yesterday! In some organizations, the focus is placed on the engineering and marketing of the product, but the technical documentation is merely perceived as an afterthought. Since technical documentation is a cost of doing business rather than a revenue generator, it tends to get the small end of the budget stick.

Tips for Finding the Best CMS for Single Sourcing Your Content

When thinking about moving your content into a content management system (CMS), there are a few key principles to consider. The first principle is single sourcing. A CMS is a great place to store one copy of your content so that it can be shared with many users. By single sourcing your content, you eliminate all duplicate copies of the content and consolidate your content base down to one trusted source of content. Now, all users who access the content will always get the most current version, and older copies won’t be floating around anymore. In addition, single sourcing your content leads to higher quality documents since the content that is being reused across your publications is current and consistent.

Tips to Avoid Confusion in Translations

When writers create content that will eventually be translated into many different languages, they must really focus on more than just good grammar, clarity and spelling. There are a lot of things we say in the English language that doesn’t translate well – or doesn’t translate at all – into other languages. For example, acronyms and slang phrases usually don’t work so well when translated. Americans can relate to being out in left field, but people in countries where baseball isn’t popular won’t understand it.

Deciding When to Do DITA

The DITA standard has gotten a lot of press in the last few years, making lots of people wonder if DITA is something they should pursue. There are many organizations who have successfully implemented DITA, and many tools support this new standard. But is it right for you? Here are some things to consider when deciding if you should use DITA:

How to Keep Your Content Management Strategy Moving in the Right Direction

How to Keep Your Content Management Strategy Moving in the Right Direction

If your organization builds content with a CMS, you’re undoubtedly reaping the benefits that an effective content management system can provide.

You’ve put a lot of work into implementing your content management strategy and got it just the way you want it! The momentum is high and everyone is still excited about the positive results they are seeing. Better quality! Faster cycles! Lower costs!

Now what do you do? How do you maintain these results? Or improve them? Here are some things you can do to ensure you continue to move forward with your content management strategy:

Following the Content Audit Trail in a CMS

Content audit trails are critical in regulated organizations, but they can also come in handy for any organization that has a need to track down specific content versions or changes. What changes were made to the content? Who made the changes? When were the changes made? Who approved it? Why were the changes made? Unlike file systems or word processing files, all of this detailed information can be easily found if content is stored and maintained in an XML content management system.

Here are a few tips to quickly get the historical information needed about a content component, topic, or document:

Encouraging Your Team to Love Your CMS Strategy

Encouraging Your Team to Love Your CMS Strategy

As a manager, you’re excited because your organization is going to buy a content management system (CMS) and implement a new strategy to help streamline your writing and publishing efforts – YEA! Now, you have to get your writers on board with the idea. Hmm. This could be tough, because some writers aren’t real receptive to change, and this will definitely rock their world. They won’t be able to do their jobs the way they have always done it anymore. Now, they might own content modules, but not entire books. They will have to share their content – oh my!

To Implement or Not to Implement a CMS NOW: That Is the Question

Implementing a component content management system (CMS) is a big endeavor, and choosing the right tool to fit an organization’s needs is critical to its success. It can be tedious to compare and contrast CMSs to be sure you choose the right one, but when you finally make your decision, it’s exciting to know what possibilities exist for your future! Big benefits await you!

You’re all ready to move forward, but then, something happens that postpones the purchase. The management team changes, and now you must justify your CMS choice – again. Or quarterly financials come out below forecast, prompting the inevitable “spending freeze” announcement. The list of reasons for delaying a CMS purchase goes on. But is it really smart to postpone your implementation? Here is one BIG tip to help you justify the decision to continue moving forward with your CMS implementation:

Tips to Manage the Change to a CMS

One of the phrases that bothers me the most is when someone says, “that’s the way we’ve always done it“…argh! That’s a sure sign of someone who is afraid of change!

Several years ago, I did a joint presentation with a client about how to implement a content management system (CMS) in an organization. We based the presentation on the book by Robert Fulghum called All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten. It’s amazing how those simple principles, like “Play fair,“ can apply to so many aspects of life, including a CMS implementation. One of the principles from Robert Fulghum’s book that can help with the change management issue of implementing a CMS is this: “Flush.”