Today, your smartest engineers spend an average of one day out of the week auditing product documentation changes, and this activity spikes during critical pre-launch periods. Product launch delays due to incomplete or inaccurate product documentation are both common and extremely costly.
How much could you reduce your time to market if you streamlined the review and approval process?
When you implement DITA as the base for your technical communications, with its modular topic-based architecture, you can assign SMEs to review only the content that has changed, not the entire books, saving countless hours. Here’s what the review process looks like using the easyDITA component content management system:
Content owners request a review using our ticket-based workflow system. From the Content Repository screen, you can create a ticket on any document in easyDITA, and a wizard will walk you through the process of describing the task and assigning resources, due dates, etc.
Once the ticket is issued, all responsible parties will be notified by email, and will see the ticket on the Start Dashboard when they login to easyDITA. When they have a change to suggest, they make their edits right in the DITA source itself; no more marking up printouts or pdfs then re-typing revisions by hand.
When you invite someone to collaborate on a document as a reviewer, they will have limited capabilities in the easyDITA Editor. The usual editing functions will not be shown on the toolbar, and the user will not be able to make any changes directly to the document. Reviewers can only suggest changes, which show up as comments to the right of the document editing pane. Document owners or contributors will then accept or reject the changes.
The review interface provides a dashboard for reviewers, approvers and managers to easily see what documents have outstanding comments or additional work to be done.
easyDITA creates a new revision every time you save a document, including autosaves, but also keeps all previous revisions. When you click on a file in the Content Manager, you will see the revision history and you can compare and restore previous revisions. easyDITA maintains an audit trail for all collaboration, so you can track who proposed or accepted revisions, which users provided comments, and who approved content for publishing.
easyDITA is currently conducting our annual State of Collaboration survey to help find ways that product documentation teams can collaborate more effectively with subject matter experts (SMEs), reviewers, approvers, and customers.
We invite you to participate using the link below, and we will share our results with everyone who takes the survey. It takes about 15 minutes to complete.
A white paper discussing findings from the 2012 State of Collaboration Survey is available for download. Collaborating in DITA: Lessons Learned explores collaboration best practices and demonstrates emerging trends that improve the speed and effectiveness of review and collaboration.
Here are some key findings:
Despite widespread DITA adoption, most review happens in PDF.
Over half of all respondents report that Subject Matter Experts contribute draft content to the technical communication process in the form of unstructured content (primarily Microsoft Word).
Organizations using DITA / XML for more than a year have overall lower pain in the areas of content review, probably due to the practice of component-oriented review of only the content that changed.