By Naveh Greenberg, Director, US Defense Development, DCL
Moving to the Darwin Information Typing Architecture (DITA) standard for creating and maintaining content means uncharted waters for many organizations. The complexity involved, in changes to tools, processes, and the approach to creating content, requires experienced professionals, to ensure that the course to DITA and well-managed content is navigable. Companies that have made the journey shared their insights in a recent survey. And all agreed that not going it alone made the difference between success and failure.
The 12 companies we talked with had DITA implementation timeframes ranging from three to five years. This kind of timeframe was essential for putting all the planning, testing, and refining steps in place to thoroughly understand and use a DITA solution to maximum effect. And companies at the beginning of this journey often lack the internal experience to adequately address all the facets of a major IT initiative.
For example, all twelve companies identified a common goal of multi-purposing content, but required the expertise of professionals to determine how to decompose legacy content, and the best ways to deliver the specific output types required. Even though all of these companies reported satisfaction with the “out-of-the-box” functionality of their DITA solutions, developing processes around that functionality relied on consultants or vendor support.
Another area all of the companies we interviewed agreed on was the need for training, especially early in the process. Moving to DITA requires that the content developers adjust to a new way of authoring content, and training on structured authoring (as well as the new processes to support the solution) turned out to be a vital change management issue.
Whether you decide to hire the DITA expertise you need as full-time employees, or engage consultants and vendors for the duration of the project, having experts who have already gone through the analysis, planning, design and testing of tools and processes can save money and time in bringing your organization into the world of DITA and well-managed content.
Naveh Greenberg is a Project Manager and is the Director for US Defense Development at Data Conversion Laboratory.