In my last blog post, I spoke about the importance of scalability in a number of key areas when choosing a CCMS for technical documentation. But what else should you look out for? Well, no CCMS conversation is complete without addressing DITA.
While there is a lot of talk about DITA, not everyone is convinced of its value. DITA can require significant change to the way technical documentation teams work. While It promises to bring great benefits to the business, many companies are asking if they really need to bother.
DITA is mainstream
Let’s be honest, content management standards over the last decade have been varied, to say the least. It’s a bit like the Wild West, with CMS vendors acting like the outlaw cowboys. They are so focused on hitting pay dirt that they choose to ignore the many downsides and limitations that come with their proprietary approaches. By acting in their own best interests, they don’t contribute to the greater good for the benefit the whole community. That’s where DITA can make a huge impact.
DITA is an open and standardized technology. It helps teams like yours adopt tried and trusted ways of working that have been proven to deliver best practice breakthroughs and improvements for your business. If you choose to adopt a CCMS that is not DITA compliant, then you could be missing the bigger picture. While some may not like the idea of rejecting the outlaw approach and joining a strong community, the reality is that DITA is fast becoming the new normal.
Raising the bar
DITA is based on open standards that are like gold dust for business. Open standards multiply the rate of technology advancement, along with the accompanying domain expertise. Quite simply, they raise the bar and help to create better products, services, code and content. And what’s the natural outcome of all of that? Improved customer satisfaction.
Don’t let the competition win
Yes, adopting DITA requires change, and to deliver that change you need to plan with a clear focus. But ignoring DITA could come at a huge cost to your business. Quite simply, you will become slower than your competitors – slower to adapt to market forces, slower to respond to new opportunities and slower to meet your customers’ changing expectations.
But there is also the matter of cost. By ignoring DITA you will inevitably spend more than your competitors on authoring, reviewing, translating and publishing content. DITA encapsulates the state of the art in managing the content lifecycle. No vendor in the world has even 1% of the number of developers or customers using their proprietary standard that the DITA community has. My favourite saying that I use to explain this is: with DITA the “skill is in the standard”.
Beyond costs and efficiency, if you avoid DITA you will continue to be stuck with data silos that limit your productivity and hamper your ability to grow. You won’t be able to keep up with the competition – you will be overtaken and eventually made obsolete.
The long term view
DITA is continually evolving in real time as the community enhances it, which means that it is often more secure and less buggy that many proprietary systems that don’t receive the same amount of attention. Because of that, it has already become the lingua franca of enterprise content creation. Don’t be fooled into thinking it’s just a passing phase. Now is the time to leave the cowboys with their proprietary content management systems out in the cold and become part of a stronger community, so make sure your chosen CCMS is DITA compliant.
Find out more: What is DITA?