- Paperback: 592 pages
- Publisher: New Riders; 1 edition (October 27, 2002)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0735713065
- ISBN-13: 978-0735713062
- Product Dimensions: 7 x 1.2 x 9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 2 pounds
- Average Customer Review: 24 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,894,979 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Managing Enterprise Content: A Unified Content Strategy 1st Edition
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From the Back Cover
About the Author
Ann Rockley is President of The Rockley Group, Inc. Ann has an international reputation in the single sourcing movement and in the fields of content management, e-content, and e-learning. Ann is doing ground-breaking work in the field of information design for content reuse and enterprise content management. She regularly speaks at dozens of conferences around the world on the topics of single sourcing, content management, and e-content. Ann is an Associate Fellow of the Society for Technical Communication and has a Master of Information Science from the University of Toronto. She teaches Enterprise Content Management at the University of Toronto.
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Nonetheless, those looking for a strategy to manage distributable content throughout an organization should take a look at "Managing Enterprise Content." The focus remains on implementing a "unified content strategy," which translates essentially to an efficient reuse of content. Here the word "content" has a specific sense relating to verbiage authored for a specific use. Product descriptions, mission and vision statements, disclaimers, compliance and regulatory announcements, anything widely distributable qualifies. How does one efficiently manage the creation and the evolution of such content across an organization? This obviously implies some form of centralization (although this pregnant term gets strategically avoided for obvious reasons). And this further implies a software system. But prior to purchasing an expensive application, the business must align itself process-wise to enable content reuse. Otherwise the costly program will sit and rot. The first three parts of the book (I - III), comprising its first twelve chapters, discuss these necessary preparations and walk the reader through to implementation. This progression mirrors, for good reasons, the project management and software development life cycle processes. First, determine the concept or the "why?" of the project (Chapters 1 & 2). Then perform cost benefit analysis (Chapter 3 discusses ROI for content reuse), analyze and prioritize the current content infrastructure, the "As-Is" (Chapters 4 through 6), look to the future by modeling and designing the elements of the system the "To-Be" (Chapters 7 through 11), and finally implement the reusable content infrastructure (Chapter 12). Evaluation of software tools and technology should come before implementation, but the book instead covers these topics in Part IV (Chapters 13 to 18). So it's that easy to implement a unified content strategy? Well, no, not really.
Part V, the book's final section, outlines the inevitable issues that face organizational restructuring. Implementation of a unified content strategy will probably necessitate fundamental changes. Roles will get changes, people moved around, departments will get realigned or reorganized. All of this can sap morale or cause anxiety amongst employees. The author is not an authority on such issues, so this section of the book remains somewhat cursory and high-level. Conflict management gets deferred to a website (the book contains an out of date URL, but the book's website[...] has an updated address), and the advice presented here will probably not surprise anyone. Still, managing change remains an important part of any new implementation and this section, though rudimentary, will at least raise awareness.
Lastly, the appendices contain a grab bag of information. Appendix C, on vendors, has probably suffered from age (these days, a lot can happen in three years), but it may provide some good leads. Appendix B, "Writing for Multiple Media," probably could have appeared in the main body of the book; it contains important details not covered elsewhere.
Overall, the book does give a plausible outline for implementing the proposed strategy. Some of the chapters may seem overly simplistic or overlong to those experienced with system implementations or business process management. At the very least, "Managing Enterprise Content" may introduce some readers to the concept of enterprise content reuse. That concept remains a challenging one that will likely mean different things to different organizations. So this book does not provide the final word on the subject, nor does it intend to. An organization can only use this book as a blueprint or a guidepost for implementing its own unified content strategy.
As an architect for content management systems, I have a vested interest with increasing my experiences and knowledge in content management. It would have been nice to see real life examples and situations throughout this book. Chapter 10 did provide some mocked up scenerios for content design. Furthermore, the writing style was too dry. Without the real life examples, it was more like the theory of enterprise content management.
It's an excellent study in content management, but I prefer a first person writing style and some solid real life examples.
I also had the expectation that the book itself would address technical communicators only as its primary audience. This in itself is not bad, but in terms of "evangelical changes" to corporate documentation and training strategies, often "how to" books of this genre do nothing more than "preach to the choir."
By the time I finished reading Managing Enterprise Content, I was excited! For me, the book answered questions about a unified content strategy on two levels: Not only did it address unified content strategy as a strategic business objective; it also unified the strategic directions that the umbrella of technical communication and training professions have been moving towards over the past decade: single-sourcing, corporate branding implementation, critical involvement in software or system development life cycle (SDLC) methodologies, and even implementation of ISO9000 compliance. Please allow me to explain further:
* Unified content strategy is the next evolution of "one source." Unified content strategy itself is a "single-sourcing umbrella solution" to ensure timely, consistent, and cost-effective communication at all levels for your company's goods and services. Consistent means just that: the development and implementation of consistent communications, regardless of the number of creators (authors) or the number and types of output media.
* Unified content strategy is about brand implementation. In today's marketplaces, I believe that effective branding can "make or break" a company. You may have the better proverbial mousetrap, but if your customers do not know it, it won't matter. VHS versus Beta illustrated this.
* A unified content strategy merges the single-source concepts and the driving tenets behind ISO 9000 into a single, cohesive strategy.
* Interestingly, a unified content strategy provides the methodology for developing the typical methodology deliverables required of a SDLC (software development life cycle). Until this, typical development projects let design drive content consistency, which would only be a byproduct if the project was lucky enough to have information designers as part of the team from the "get-go."
The book Managing Enterprise Content does a beautiful job of defining the premises and corresponding values of a unified content strategy. But it does not stop there. With this publication, finally there is a book that defines one source (as a unified content strategy) holistically, answering all of the basic journalistic questions of who, what, when, where, why, and most important, how!
* The "how" itself is through easy-to-follow step by step instructions supported by examples that encapsulate very typical business scenarios.
* The "how" is about getting buy-in within your company of not only management, but of all the players. It provides tables and lists of questions to be answered, objectives to be met, and pitfalls to be avoided.
* The "how" is also about getting the best mix of tools and technologies to meet your company's needs, especially by helping you ferret out the real strengths and weaknesses of third-party tools in terms of meeting your company's business requirements.
In my opinion, here is the real proverbial "bang for your buck" offered by Managing Enterprise Content. The book itself provides a cohesive tool for technical communicators, instructional designers, and related publications and project management to help demonstrate the cost benefits of a unified content management strategy.
In short, this book tells you not only how to do it, but how to get buy-in. Or, in terms of the vernacular of the book itself, it tells you how to qualify your goals (something that we typically have always been good at doing) and how to quantify your goals (something perhaps that most of us have not been so good at doing.)
This has often been the stumbling block for authoring teams in the past? We knew what was needed and understood the values, but never translated the benefits into the languages of middle- and upper management - that of cost savings!
More importantly, by taking all of these items into consideration, the book helps you realize that there is no "one size fits all" unified content strategy solution. Instead, the book focuses on your attaining a derived understanding of the best-unified content strategy solution for your company! In other words, the book "sets you up to succeed!"
In summation, Managing Enterprise Content clearly defines what a unified content strategy is, how to develop one, and what the complete spectrum of benefits of its implementation would be in terms of deliverables quality, development time efficiency, and cost savings.
This book provides a comprehensive business process that integrates technical communication, instructional design, and workflow into an easy-to-follow package that will provide a consistent and cost-savings family of content products. This book "practices what it preaches" in that it addresses the needs of all the players: management at all levels, technical writers and trainers, product designers, developers and testers, marketing and IT staff, and most of all - customers.
Principle Consultant - On the Write Track
2000-2001 International President - Society for Technical Communication