RE: What's your CMS editing process?

Subject: RE: What's your CMS editing process?
From: "Mark Baker" <mbaker -at- analecta -dot- com>
To: <kristy -at- kristylantzastry -dot- com>, <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Sun, 11 Sep 2011 15:37:21 -0400

One of the snares of a CMS system is that they often include workflow
systems. Workflow is one of those things that always seems like a good idea
at the time but only sometimes is.

Workflow systems can have some virtue as a transport mechanism (but there is
email for that). Their real function is command and control. The entire
workflow process is predicated on mistrust. People are not to be trusted to
do the right thing without supervision and approval, and so every action
must be routed according to a set of fixed rules.

This institutional distrust is appropriate in a few circumstances -- some
things are so dangerous if even one mistake is made, that a strict oversight
must be maintained at all times, no matter what the cost of the attendant

In other cases, institutional distrust is a disease in an organization.
Command and control is implemented for the sake of command and control, and
the ego of those in command. Workflow systems appeal to people like this
because it give them more control over everyone else. They generally ignore
the economic cost, and blame the workers if the system does not function

In some cases (and I suspect this is quite common with initial CMS
implementations) the institutional distrust is built into the tool, and the
people involved, who actually do trust each other perfectly well, set up
distrust-based command and control systems because that is what the system
is designed to do -- what the manual and the training courses and the
consultants tell them to do. They are probably unaware what the economic
cost of institutional distrust is. In fact, they probably believe that
setting up strict workflows will actually streamline things and improve

How you go about fixing this situation will depend very much on which of the
above scenarios you are dealing with, though the truth of the matter is that
in the first scenario, you probably shouldn't change it, and in the second,
you probably can't.

In the third case, the issue you will face is likely to be not one of
resistance based on distrust, but of perplexity as to how to deal with the
situation. The usual response of those changed with setting up the workflow
will be to try to add additional workflow branches and options to encompass
all the possible scenarios. This will generally prove too difficult, and so
there will be a desire on behalf of the workflow folks to try to force you
to follow a workflow that is easier for them to model. What you will need to
do is to persuade them that the right solution is not to try to model a more
complex workflow, but to expand the permissions to reflect the level of
trust that actually exists in the organization and is appropriate to the


Mark Baker

* Every Page is Page One *

> We're in the early stages of implementing a CMS. Our
> editors are being
> told that they won't be given access to the XML-based
> topics. Instead,
> each editor is expected to comment on the grammar,
> punctuation, syntax,
> and document structure in a generated pdf, which is returned to the
> technical writer for correction before the document is sent for
> technical review.
> We writers and editors believe that editors should be able
> to correct
> the minor grammatical issues in each topic, before a document is
> generated.


Create and publish documentation through multiple channels with Doc-To-Help.
Choose your authoring formats and get any output you may need. Try
Doc-To-Help, now with MS SharePoint integration, free for 30-days.

You are currently subscribed to TECHWR-L as archive -at- web -dot- techwr-l -dot- com -dot-

To unsubscribe send a blank email to
techwr-l-unsubscribe -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
or visit

To subscribe, send a blank email to techwr-l-join -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com

Send administrative questions to admin -at- techwr-l -dot- com -dot- Visit for more resources and info.

Please move off-topic discussions to the Chat list, at:

What's your CMS editing process?: From: kristy

Previous by Author: RE: Using the conjunction OR in mutually exclusive options
Next by Author: RE: Tech Writing in Kanban
Previous by Thread: Re: What's your CMS editing process?
Next by Thread: RE: Using Word for book publishing

What this post helpful? Share it with friends and colleagues:

Sponsored Ads