Plan, Plan, Plan!

Recently we ran a survey to get an understanding of what tools people were using, what they liked and didn’t like and what suggestions they would make for others using the tool. More than 50% of the suggestions for others had nothing to do with the tool, they were all about planning, research and design.

A selection of some of the comments

“Make sure you do your content analysis properly and get your content to a reasonable level of granularity.”

“It’s not about the tool. It’s about the way it will be used in your company. It is about who will drive it and what are their goals. It is about what is important to you in producing documentation.”

“Confirm your requirements before deciding on the appropriate software.”

“The tool is very powerful, but you need to have a good idea of what you want to accomplish before you start to configure and install it. Have very good consulting help and/or IT/technical support. Research carefully to understand what ‘DITA support’ means.”

“Plan, Plan, Plan.”

“Fully document and test all use cases, including ‘edge’ cases and error conditions.”

Best practices

  • Thoroughly analyze everyone’s requirements before selecting the tool.
  • Take the time to look at your content with fresh eyes to determine what kind of content structure you need and where specializations may be required.
  • Thoroughly analyze your opportunities for reuse and decided on a realistic reuse strategy.
  • Develop a series of use cases to test your processes, the technology, and your design.
  • Conduct proof-of-concept, pilot then full implementation.
  • Plan for change and ensure you clearly understand how new processes and technology will help people accomplish their tasks, not just save time and money. If there is no benefit there will be no success.
  • Incorporate lessons-learned and plan for continuous improvement.

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