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

Subject: RE: 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: Mon, 13 Nov 2000 15:33:54 -0800 (PST)

"HALL Bill" wrote...

> Secondly, although we have a large volume of data to manage, because the
> project has been implemented late in project life cycle, the volume of work
> to manage is not that large, as essentially all authoring was complete. Our
> costing following the delivery of Ship 4 were based on reductions against a

This is a BIG difference. Most of your documents done and static. In essence
Bill, you're just implementing a complex version management system.

When do you WRITE? It sounds to me like all this system does is provide a way
to keep all your documents organized. We have a system to handle that too: a
Windows NT file server!

There is a whopping mega huge difference between organizing STATIC text and
working in a dynamic, volatile environment, as is the case in many high-tech
firms. Volatile environments just are not well suited to huge, expensive
documentation management systems.

In my opinion writers should focus 80% to 90% of their effort on content and
20% - 10% on organization/layout/format/design/etc. From what it sounds like to
me, you spend 95% of your time categorizing text, coding templates, and
reorganzing tables. When do you sit down an actually WRITE the content? Is all
your time spent managing and maintaining this system?

I see kilobytes worth of text from yourself and others about the amazing value
these systems have... how do they make content more accurate? How are people
better writers with these systems? How does it allow people to get concepts
and ideas written more accurately? How does it speed up the process of
gathering information, writing it, formatting it, and then delivering it.

It doesn't. It just gives all the text more structure. Again, if the text is
wrong, it doesn't much matter how well organized it is.

Your system just helps deliver text faster. It does not make the writers
smarter or more capable of understanding the technologies or designs they have
to document. In essence, you have built one gargantuan file server with a
customized front-end application. Great - but you could have done the same
thing with a copy of VSS, FrameMaker, and some decent policies regarding
updating material (and saved about two million dollars).

The ROI on these systems is only valuable if:

- You have a gargantuan amount of documentation.
- The text is essentially static.
- There are few graphics or media.
- You have a large number of people working on these documents.
- You need to output the same text to multiple formats.

This makes up probably about 150 to 200 companies world-wide. Not to mention
the fact that most firms just outsource this function to document management
firms and forget implementing it in house.

Again, I think you and Don are preaching to a small set of very large
companies. These systems simply will not benefit the majority of tech pubs
groups. Better management, tools, and training will.

Andrew Plato

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