Re: Implementing a single source management system painlessly

Subject: Re: Implementing a single source management system painlessly
From: Andrew Plato <intrepid_es -at- yahoo -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Wed, 8 Nov 2000 08:02:21 -0800 (PST)

Do you really need this system, or are you just looking for something OTHER
than writing to do?

How much REAL writing do you and your boss do? Are you missing deadlines?
Overworked? Unable to keep track of everything? Does your boss write? All good
tech-pubs managers should be active writers on their team.

"We have monthly documents to maintain as well as other projects that are
constantly sprouting up." This does not sound like you're overloaded. Just
because something changes each month and chunks of that must be put in other
documents does not mean you need a huge XML based single-source solution.

Single-source is a nice idea that is often a fantastic waste of efforts because
it does not create real value. The writers involved spend a gargantuan amount
of time building a system to handle everything and in the process fall behind
doing their REAL job - writing documents.

Before you spend a truck load of time and money on this, ask yourself these

- Can we implement this with a grand MINORITY of our time spent on
- Will there be tangible, significant savings in time and money when this
system is implemented?
- Will the environment change much? Rigid single-source systems are often
worthless if the ground rules change and the documentation must be re-done.
- Can we do the writing manually in the time allotted without the system?

You need to be perfectly honest with yourself. A big, complex single-source
system is not the answer if you can't do the work manually yourself. There is
nothing wrong with manually managing and maintaining multiple sets of documents
with shared pieces.

Andrew Plato

<jason -dot- davis -at- pc-doctor -dot- com> wrote

> I have a wonderful opportunity to help implement a single source
> documentation management system for a company that BADLY needs it. We want
> to use XML but unsure how to implement it with all the other things we have
> to do. We have monthly documents to maintain as well as other projects that
> are constantly sprouting up. Some of those projects might be developing
> help files from information in the monthly documents (perfect example of
> why we need XML).
> What is the most painless way to implement XML as a tool for managing
> documentation? My first guess is outsourcing but cost can be pretty
> painfull. I also see us manually tagging up our documents ourselves but
> that can cost us valuable time. Ultimately, my boss and I both urgently
> want XML but we must convince upper management.

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