Possible knowledge base project?

Subject: Possible knowledge base project?
From: "Gen Whitt" <gen -dot- whitt -at- castec -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Fri, 5 Aug 2005 10:54:51 -0700

Hi everyone.

I would appreciate advice on the best approach/tools for the following

Our sales people each keep a set of two big fat binders full of pricing
and product information. This info comes from many sources. I have been
asked to put these books online.

The contents come from many sources. Some of the pages are legacy and
are hardcopy only; some are printouts from WordPerfect files, some are
from Excel files, and a very few are in Word.

Surprise surprise, some of the data itself is questionable. Also there
is a significant unwillingness on the part of the salespeople - they
like having their books, and there are definitely significant usability
aspects that they will lose if the books are taken away (such as their

Initially, I would like to figure out a way this data can be taken
online fairly swiftly, straight from its current formats, but being able
to provide a good front end with the capability to search through all
the files. Hardcopy I'd like to be able to scan, and add key words, for
a Phase 1.

I want to find an expedient way of being able to combine content in
various formats into a searchable system in which I can organize the
pieces logically and work to improve from there.

What I want to avoid is having to work extensively with all these
various files to convert them into a different format, such as Word or
HTML, so that I can include them in a RoboHELP project (we have

A couple of years ago or more, I looked into knowledge base systems. At
the time we were looking at RoboEnterprise, and it seems as though it
had the capability I now want. However, I was told by Macromedia that it
is no longer around.

Also, incidentally, it would be great if I could get a knowledge base
application that would work for this project and also could be used to
set up a broader knowledge base for the company, which we are badly in
need of.

However, funds are tight. So any proposal that includes a very
significant outlay for software will not fly. I expect we could buy
something, but not something in the tens of thousands of dollars.

Also, we are short on writer resources. This is expected to be a swift
project; and we all have several other projects going. That is why I
want to get the current info online first, and bring up the quality and
usability from there.

Any suggestions?

Thanks much in advance,

Gen Whitt
Documentation Manager
Castec, Inc.


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