The content strategy experts at Scriptorium discuss how to manage, structure, organize, and distribute content.
Content strategy pitfalls: lacking a unified content strategy (podcast)
In episode 107 of The Content Strategy Experts podcast, Bill Swallow and Gretyl Kinsey are back for another episode in our Content strategy pitfalls series. They talk about what can have happen when you lack a unified content strategy.
“One way to get funding in place is to start the conversation among different groups. Get these groups together and start talking about what their ultimate goals are with their content strategy and their content operations. That way you can have multiple voices coming together and asking for a larger pool of money that can be shared.”
– Bill Swallow
* Content strategy pitfalls podcast: risk management
* Content strategy pitfalls podcast: change management
Bill Swallow: Welcome to The Content Strategy Experts podcast brought to you by Scriptorium. Since 1997, Scriptorium has helped companies manage, structure, organize, and distribute content in an efficient way. In this episode, we look at another content strategy pitfall, what can have happen when you lack a unified content strategy? Hi, everybody. I’m Bill Swallow.
Gretyl Kinsey: And I’m Gretyl Kinsey.
BS: So, before we jump into talking about what can happen when you lack a unified content strategy, we should probably start with explaining exactly what a unified content strategy is.
GK: Yeah. So, if you’ve listened to any of our podcasts before, looked at any information on Scriptorium’s blog, you might have also seen us refer to this as enterprise content strategy. So, what we mean by enterprise or unified content strategy is a plan for managing all of your content processes across the organization. And a lot of times that involves bringing all of your different content producing groups into alignment with each other.
BS: And as you can imagine, if everyone is working against a different strategy and doing different things, a lot of bad things can happen. One thing that we see right out of the gate when an organization does not have a unified content strategy, is that there are a lot of inconsistencies throughout the entire content chain, from authoring the content all the way through to the customer experience on the final destination of that content.
GK: Yeah, absolutely. A lot of times this happens, because not everybody in the organization places the same amount of value on content. I know one example that I’ve seen of this might be something like, an executive sees a lot of value from something like the marketing content, because that’s directly making sales. But they don’t realize maybe the importance or the value that other kinds of content like your technical documentation, your training modules, maybe your legal materials might have. So, those groups maybe don’t get as much funding, as many resources, as much invested into them. And then you end up with this inconsistency, with this lack of cohesion among the different content producing groups, just because there wasn’t really value placed on content as a whole.
BS: And we also can see this within even what we consider a traditional content group. So, for technical documentation, a lot of times you will have user focused guides and user focused content, and you will also have deep technical content, perhaps API references and so forth. And oftentimes,
DITA and accessibility (podcast)
In episode 106 of The Content Strategy Experts podcast, Gretyl Kinsey and Bob Johnson of Intuitive talk about accessibility and the Darwin Information Typing Architecture
“If you’re doing it right, accessibility doesn’t look any different than what you’re doing day to day. You’re just adding accessibility considerations when you author your content.”
– Bob Johnson
* Accessibility podcast with Char James-Tanny
* Intuitive’s website
Gretyl Kinsey: Welcome to The Content Strategy Experts podcast, brought to you by Scriptorium. Since 1997, Scriptorium has helped companies manage, structure, organize, and distribute content in an efficient way. In this episode, we talk about accessibility and the Darwin Information Typing Architecture with special guest Bob Johnson of Intuitive. Hello and welcome everyone. I’m Gretyl Kinsey.
Bob Johnson: And I’m Bob Johnson.
GK: And I am so happy that you are a guest on our podcast today. So, would you just start off by telling us a little bit about yourself and your experience with DITA and accessibility?
BJ: Sure. I actually have routes in component content management that go back before DITA. I worked for a web CMS vendor that published a web CMS that was component based. And we implemented Author-it, which is a component based CMS and authoring tool primarily for technical content. We eventually moved to a DITA publish, which solved some problems for us. And since then, I’ve worked with a number of companies, both on the authoring side and the publishing side. I’ve managed CCMS acquisitions, I’ve managed DITA transitions for companies in the medical device sphere, in software, and in medical reference conThe web CMS vendor is also where I got my experience with accessibility. We wanted to sell to government customers and so we needed to be able to make section 508 compliance statements. And so, I had to study up. Later on, I worked for a company that had been acquired by Oracle. Oracle takes a rather different approach to accessibility than a lot of companies. Where other companies centralize their accessibility practice, Oracle makes each business unit responsible. And so, I took the responsibility for helping this acquisition implement accessibility in its content. When I went looking for documentation about accessibility and DITA , I didn’t find anything.
BJ: So, I sat down with the web content accessibility guidelines and developed a matrix to indicate which guidelines applied to techcomm, which one applied to authoring, which one supplied to publishing. And they built a mitigation strategy based on that. I later shared my experience at DITA North America and have been working since then to share that experience with technical communicators across various markets. You mentioned at one point in our emails, what is accessibility? And that’s a really good question. I’ve never found a legal definition, but what I usually use as a definition is accessibility is the characteristics of a product and its content that allow users with disabilities to access the content or use that product.
GK: That’s great. And from your perspective, based on all of that experience you just described, what does accessibility look like when you are authoring DITA content?
BJ: In all honesty, if you’re doing it right, accessibility doesn’t look any different than what you’re doing day to day.
Exit strategy for your content operations (podcast)
In episode 105 of The Content Strategy Experts podcast, Alan Pringle and Sarah O’Keefe talk about an exit strategy as part of your content operations planning.
“You need to be thinking about the what-ifs 5 or 10 years down the road while you’re picking the tool. Are we going to have flexibility with this tool? Is it going to be able to help us support things we may not even be thinking about or may not even exist right now?”
– Alan Pringle
* Scriptorium’s Content Ops Manifesto
* Content operations (content ops)
Alan Pringle: Welcome to The Content Strategy Experts podcast, brought to you by Scriptorium. Since 1997, Scriptorium has helped companies manage, structure, organize, and distribute content in an efficient way. In this episode, we talk about an exit strategy as part of your content operations planning. Hi, everyone. I’m Alan Pringle.
Sarah O’Keefe: And I’m Sarah O’Keefe.
AP: And today, Sarah and I are going to talk about something that probably doesn’t get enough attention, and that is an exit strategy for your content operations.
SO: Yeah, and it seems vaguely impolite to talk about the process of leaving a vendor when you’re planning and thinking about which tools to buy and which systems to build and how to build up your content operations. But I think it beats the alternative, which is not to think about leaving a vendor and then 5 or 10 years down the road, you have to exit and you are truly, truly in trouble.
AP: Yeah, and I can understand, I will admit, I have caught glimpses of side eye from client stakeholders more than once when exit strategies came up during content strategy assessments. We’re talking about getting out of a tool before it’s even selected, and I can kind of understand the thought process. Why are we talking about that now? Well, as you pointed out, you really need to talk about it during the planning phase. Otherwise, you’re going to be left with a lot of muck when something happens and you’re forced to leave a tool for some reason.
SO: Yeah. The side eye from the vendors is even better when we start asking awkward questions. But the alternative, we’ve got projects right now where we are looking at, how do we exit a particular component content management system, move a customer to a new system because it’s time, and they need to move for good and valid reasons. And what we’re running into is that because the inbound 5 or 10 or 15 years ago didn’t really take into account the inevitable exit, we have huge migration costs. We’ve got relicensing costs. We’ve got rebuilding, recustomization, reintegration. It’s almost as bad as the original project of going from unstructured to structured content. It is super expensive if you don’t have a good path to exit.
AP: Sure, and let’s kind of take two steps back. The bottom line here is that planning to get away while you’re choosing your tools is a risk mitigation strategy. It’s a way to keep things from completely blowing up 3, 5, 10 years down the road. So it’s a way to lower your risk. As part of that mitigation of risk, let’s talk about some of the odds and ends that you really need to be thinking about as a way to develop your exit strategy.
SO: You know,
Scriptorium’s Content Ops Manifesto (podcast)
In episode 104 of The Content Strategy Experts podcast, Elizabeth Patterson and Sarah O’Keefe discuss Scriptorium’s Content Ops Manifesto.
“The bigger your system is and the more content you have, the more expensive friction is, and the more you can and should invest in getting rid of it.”
– Sarah O’Keefe
* Scriptorium’s Content Ops Manifesto
* Content operations (content ops)
Elizabeth Patterson: Welcome to The Content Strategy Experts podcast brought to you by Scriptorium. Since 1997, Scriptorium has helped companies manage, structure, organize, and distribute content in an efficient way. In this episode, we talk about content ops and Scriptorium’s Content Ops Manifesto. Hi, I’m Elizabeth Patterson.
Sarah O’Keefe: And I’m Sarah O’Keefe.
EP: And so we’re just going to go ahead and dive right in. Sarah, let’s start off with a definition. What is content ops?
SO: There are lots of great definitions out there written by people smarter than me, but the one that I really like is pretty informal. Content ops is the engine that drives your content life cycle or your information life cycle. So that means the people, the processes and the technologies that make up your content world. How do you create, author, edit, review, approve, deliver, govern, archive, delete your content? That’s content ops.
EP: So Scriptorium recently published a Content Ops Manifesto. And in this manifesto, you describe the four basic principles of content ops. So what I want to do is just go through those one by one, and I will of course link the manifesto in the show notes. So the first one you have in the manifesto is, semantic content is the foundation. What exactly does that mean?
SO: I wanted in this manifesto to take a small step back from hands-on implementation advice, and the things that we tell people to do, you need to go through and build out your systems, and here’s how you make them efficient and focus instead on the principles of what that looks like without getting too much into the details. And so with that in mind, each of these principles is intended as a guidepost that would apply for any content operation that you’re trying to build out. Semantic content is information that is essentially knowledgeable and about itself, or self-describing. Now this could be as simple as a word processor file, where you have some paragraph tags that say, “Hello, I’m a heading one,” and “Hello, I’m a heading two,” and “Hello. I am a body tag,” that kind of thing. So you need to have tags, labels of some sort that describe for each, whether it’s a block or a little chunk or a string of text.
SO: What that text is. Is it a heading? Is it body text? Is it a list or part of a list? That kind of thing. So that’s tags. Now, there are lots and lots of ways to do tags across every tool that you could imagine, but you need some sort of semantic labeling. Second, we need metadata. So we need information about the information itself. Usually this is classification tags. So things like, “I am a beginner level task,” or even, “I am a task. I was last updated on this date. I belong to this product or this product family.” So metadata provides you some additional context about the information and describ...
Transitioning to a new CCMS (podcast)
In episode 103 of The Content Strategy Experts podcast, Alan Pringle and Bill Swallow share some considerations for transitioning into a new component content management system or CCMS.
“You need to look at the requirements you have now. Are they being supported or not supported? Do you see this system helping you move forward with your content goals in three to five years?”
– Alan Pringle
* Buyer’s guide to CCMS evaluation
* Life with a content management system (podcast)
Bill Swallow: Welcome to The Content Strategy Experts podcast brought to you by Scriptorium. Since 1997, Scriptorium has helped companies manage, structure, organize, and distribute content in an efficient way. In this episode, we share some considerations for transitioning into a new component content management system or CCMS. Hi everyone. I’m Bill Swallow, and today I’m here with Alan Pringle.
Alan Pringle: Hello everyone.
BS: And we’re going to jump into a discussion about when we should be switching our component content management systems. So I think Alan, I’ll probably start off with a question to you. How do you know it’s time to move on with your existing CCMS?
AP: Well, everybody’s situation is going to be a little different, but in general, there’s some things that you can look out for as warning signs you may need to reconsider your CCMS. One of them being, sure things worked great when you stood the system up, but now a few years later, you’re finding that it is not scaling to meet your needs. You’ve got a whole lot more content in it. You have some feature sets that may not be there, that would be very helpful to you. So it’s a matter of, is that system keeping up with your growth and your changes? Is it keeping pace?
AP: In regard to the feature sets that I just talked about, if you discover that you’re spending a lot of time doing customizations to make things work for you, that may be a warning sign that you need to take a look at what some other systems offer as out of the box features because you do not want to be in this loop where you are spending a lot of time and money and investing in a system by basically doing patchwork add-ons to it. That’s not sustainable in the long run. If there is a system that has the feature that you’re looking for automatically, it may be worth considering that system, instead of doing this patchwork add-on to your existing setup.
AP: We’ve also seen cases where we had a client that was involved in a merger. And because of that, there were multiple component content management systems in the mix from the different, mostly technical publications departments that merged together from the different companies. So when you find yourself in a situation where you have acquired another company or you’re being acquired, you may have a situation where you’ve got overlap in your tool ecosystem, and in general, a company is not going to want to support two tools that do the same thing.
AP: So you have to take a look kind of from a bigger business point of view, at what the overarching goals and efficiencies that the company wants to make. And some of those efficiencies may be, we’re not going to have two CCMS’s here, we need to migrate everything to one. And I think it’s worth mentioning in that...
The importance of terminology management (podcast)
In episode 102 of The Content Strategy Experts podcast, Sarah O’Keefe and Sharon Burton of Expel talk about the importance of terminology management.
“If we don’t give customers the information to understand what we’re telling them, they won’t be successful and we have failed.”
– Sharon Burton
* Expel’s website
Sharon Burton: Welcome to The Content Strategy Experts podcast, brought to you by Scriptorium. Since 1997, Scriptorium has helped companies manage, structure, organize and distribute content in an efficient way. My name is Sharon Burton, and I’m your guest today.
Sarah O’Keefe: And my name is Sarah O’Keefe, and I’m hosting. I delegated reading our bumper to Sharon because, well, there were some attempts and it didn’t go well. But, hopefully the rest of this episode will be more professional because we’ve got Sharon in charge.
SO: In this episode, I want to talk to Sharon about terminology management. Sharon Burton is a longtime friend of mine and also a senior content strategist at Expel. Sharon, welcome and thank you for taking on guest hosting.
SB: You’re welcome. I’m very happy to contribute to the overall mirth levels.
SO: This is going to be trouble.
SO: Tell us a little about yourself and your job at Expel, and what Expel does.
SB: The honest to goodness truth is I’ve done pretty much everything there is to do in this field. At least, it certainly feels like that.
SB: What I’m doing at Expel, I’m salaried at Expel, which is also new. I’ve not had a lot of salaried jobs. We work in the cybersecurity space. This is a new space for me, which is exciting. One of the things I love about our field is you always get to learn new things. I’m learning about cybersecurity. What we do is we are your offsite security management staff. There are groups of people in mid to larger companies called a security operations center.
SB: A medium to large company will have a group of people staffed called SOC, S-O-C, security operations center. Those kinds of people will monitor all of your hardware, and your software, and make sure that the people logging into the networks are the right people and all of that. The problem with that, and there is a big problem with that in the cybersecurity industry, is multi-fold.
SB: Number one, there aren’t enough people out there who are trained to do this, flat out aren’t. There’s a huge deficit of people. Number two, the people in the security business, because there aren’t a lot of them, they job hop a lot. Because as soon as they get bored, they can go get another job doing something interesting elsewhere, so you have a lot of staff turnover. And number three, sitting there and watching the logs of all of this stuff, all day long, is mind-numbingly boring. So you have staff shortage, mind-numbing boring and people job hop.
SB: What Expel does is we are your, if you will, offsite stock. But, we’ve got a whole bunch of tools and technologies, and all kinds of fun things that we’ve developed, so that we don’t bore our people. We’ve got all kinds of bots that do exciting and fun things. And, we’re a young company, we’re only five years old. When I started, they knew I was the first content anybody and they hired me because they knew that to move the product forward in any way,
Nerd out on content strategy!
A podcast about metadata and taxonomies is the podcast for me! The audio quality could be a little better but I thoroughly enjoy these conversations.