Real value (was implementing single-source) - demonstrated!

Subject: Real value (was implementing single-source) - demonstrated!
From: Andrew Plato <intrepid_es -at- yahoo -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Sun, 12 Nov 2000 23:41:35 -0800 (PST)

With all due respect, Bill, you're situation is the exception not the rule for
most tech pubs groups.

Most organizations (outside of the government and companies like Boeing) do not
produce the quantity and extent of the documentation you produce. Also, many
firms must consider profit motive and time to market - which you do not. You're
a defense contractor or government body. Sure budgets are an issue, but
government budgets are not the same as working in a profit-centric private

I wholly agree that huge, massive documentation management systems are a
necessity when, like your situation, you are dealing with a monstrous amount of
information. But places that produce 5000 or less pages of documentation per
year are not going to get a phenomenal benefit. They are going to buy a 747
when all they need is a hand-cart.

Furthermore, your system is simply not well suited to rapid and fundamental
change. You say yourself it has taken years to implement. Your firm (or agency
or whatever you are) will be handling ships for pretty much, ever. Hence, you
have a lot of areas that will not, fundamentally change anytime in the near
future. What would happen if your organization suddenly became a
coffee-retailer? A software firm? A marketing department? Okay, that may sound
a little absurd but it really isn't. Many profit firms move in an out of
markets quickly and don't have time the resources to waste on huge
documentation systems that will be rapidly outmoded in the next reorganization.
If you tried to implement this system at many of the high-tech firms where I
consult, it would get shot down quickly. "I don't need promises of a brighter
future, I need accurate docs now." is what the CTO would say (I've heard this
line, last time I tried to pitch a documentation management system in 1998).

So, we're really not debating here. I agree that large, complex documentation
systems have value. I just do not agree that they are universally valuable.
Their value is limited to large, complex operations with steady, reliable
business and products.

Andrew Plato

"HALL Bill" wrote...
> Even though the weekend has passed, I can't resist adding my $0.02 to the
> debate between Andrew Plato and Dan Emory about the potential $M value of
> implementing XML content management systems in a technical documentation
> environment.

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