CIDM e-newsletter
Volume 2, Issue 4
April 2002

A monthly e-newsletter from the Center for Information-Development Management (CIDM)
JoAnn T. Hackos, PhD, CIDM Director

If you would like to receive the CIDM e-newsletter in plain-text format, visit and choose the plain-text format.

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News & Events

JoAnn Hackos to speak at AUGI 2002 the 7th Annual Arbortext Users’ Group International (AUGI) conference on May 15-17, 2002, in Montreal, Quebec, Canada

For more information about the conference, visit Arbortext’s Web site

JoAnn Hackos and the CIDM invite you to Content Management: Strategies for Single Sourcing on June 3-4, 2002 in San Francisco, CA

Visit details!

Trisoft and Comtech Services present
E-fficiency in Technical Communication: Single Sourcing in a Multilingual Environment
, a one-day conference on May 27, 2002, in Antwerp, Belgium, with a one-day workshop, How to Plan and Implement a Single-Source Project, taught by JoAnn Hackos, PhD, on May 28, 2002.

For more information and to register for the conference and workshop, visit Trisoft’s Web site

JoAnn Hackos and the CIDM invite you to
Best Practices 2002
on September 29-October 2, 2002 in Galveston, TX

For more information, visit
the CIDM Web site

Upcoming Workshops
The CIDM sponsors the following workshops between April and September 2002. Sign up now:

User and Task Analysis for Information Design
JoAnn Hackos, PhD,
May 14-15, 2002, Portsmouth, NH,
Bill Hackos, PhD,
September 18-19, 2002, Arlington, VA,
October 8-9, 2002, Boston, MA

Structured Writing for Single Sourcing
JoAnn Hackos, PhD,
May 20-21, 2002, Charlotte, NC

Structuring Information for Online Success
Henry Korman, RA,
June 11-12, 2002, Jacksonville, FL,
August 5-6, 2002, St. Paul, MN

Developing a Strategy for Minimalism: Creating Manuals People Will Use
JoAnn Hackos, PhD,
June 18-19, 2002, Portland, OR,
September 5-6, 2002, Greenville, SC

Developing a Single-Source Strategy for XML Authoring, Content Management, and Dynamic Web Delivery
JoAnn Hackos, PhD, and Tina Hedlund,
June 24-26, 2002, at Arbortext in Ann Arbor, MI

For more information on these and other workshops, visit the Seminars in Usable Design Web site at

Are Offshore Technical Communicators More Willing to Follow Best Practices Than Their US Counterparts?
JoAnn T. Hackos, PhD
CIDM Director

In the April 2, 2002 Issue 64 of E-SSENTIALS!, the e-newsletter of the Software Productivity Center, Carol Dekkers assessed the reasons why so many “offshore” software development organizations appear easily to achieve process maturity levels of 4 and 5 on the CMM (Capabilities Maturity Model) scale. US software developers typically have difficulty advancing much beyond Level 1, the lowest maturity level, characterized by considerable autonomy. Dekkers argues that organizations founded in more prescriptive, procedure-oriented cultures are more likely to follow the directives issued by an official body or their own management than are organizations in more independent, choice-oriented cultures. She quotes Dr. David Zubrow of the Software Engineering Institute (SEI) as observing that countries that were once part of the British empire, such as India, Singapore, and Hong Kong, tend to accept prescribed processes. Dekkers gingerly places Britain, Canada, and Australia in the prescriptive category also.

In analyzing the difficulty of implementing standard processes in American organizations, Dekkers also remarks that it is much easier to impose a structure on a new organization than to re-engineer processes in an existing organization, often at the same time that current work is being implemented. Many of the offshore organizations have been started in the last two or three years, although new software development groups in the US are not particularly open to strict procedural accountability.

If you’re wondering what all this has to do with information-development organizations, let me explain two ideas that are gradually merging for me: organizational process maturity and offshore information-development staff.

Read the full article

Offshore Workforce Survey and Benchmark

In the next few weeks, the CIDM will be conducting a survey of the successes and challenges in using an offshore workforce. The survey will begin a new benchmark study of experiences with offshore writers and the move toward more mature processes within our information-development organizations worldwide.

Funding needed—if you are interested in supporting the workforce benchmark, please email Cynthia Tamesue at To conduct the benchmark internationally, we need participation and sponsorship. We are now working on the sponsorship fees but hope to keep these comparatively low to involve more participants. Let us know what you might be able to contribute in return for the comprehensive benchmark report and participation in the study.

How Technical Should a Technical Communicator Be?

JoAnn Hackos answers the question “How technical should a technical communicator be?”

Technical communicators must be capable of becoming product subject-matter experts, at least to the extent that they can adequately represent the interests of the users of the product. If the users are technical experts, the communicators must learn about the users’ experience in the field, their agendas in using the product and its support information, and their goals in the specific implementation of the product. If the communicators cannot conduct a meaningful conversation with the users about the subject matter, then they cannot represent their needs sufficiently for the information they impart to be useful.

Read the full article

IT Service and IT Organisation Management Methods and Models—Part 2
Robert N. Phillips
CEO, Lasotell Pty Ltd.

If you are involved in trying to understand the various facets of IT service delivery or of an IT organisation in general, there are two very useful models/methodologies you can investigate. They take all the mystique out of such tasks—including documenting them:

  • Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL)
  • Control Objectives for Information and related Technology (CobiT)—yes, that is the correct capitalisation.

This, the second article, deals with CobiT. You can read the first article at

CobiT is the most useful tool of its kind for IT that I have seen in the last 15 years. You may not have an immediate need for it, but it is worth keeping in your drawer.

Read the full article

The Center For Information-Development Management
The Center for Information-Development Management (CIDM) is an organization of information-development, training, and support managers across the United States and internationally. The CIDM is directed by Dr. JoAnn Hackos, international leader in the management of the design, development, and dissemination of information to customers and employees. Under her leadership, the CIDM conducts benchmark studies among member organizations and elsewhere, sponsors research into information development and its management, gathers and disseminates results and resources through newsletters, the Web, seminars, an annual conference, and research white papers. The CIDM facilitates the sharing of information among the most skilled managers in the information industry.

If you are interested in reading more in-depth articles, you should consider subscribing to the Best Practices newsletter at