Simple as an Enterprise Content Management Strategy (Wisdom from Forrest Gump)

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Doug Gorman, Simply XML

Simple is as Simple Does

It has been 20 years since Forrest Gump taught us a lot about life. We are in a new era where the word “simple” seems to be what everyone is striving for. You probably have noticed that “simple” is everywhere.

There are many Companies chasing “simple.” We are one of them, and there should and will be many more. We offer a simple solution to an organization’s XML authoring needs. At a broader level, we believe that simple is an appropriate strategy for many initiatives, including the move to enterprise content management.

A Simple Wedding

Over Labor Day my family attended a wedding which, in contrast to many weddings these days, was a simple affair.  The atmosphere was simple.  As guests we stayed at a Suzuki Music Camp in northern New Hampshire. The music was simple. The food was simple. The gowns were simple. One of the wedding hymns was called “Simple Gifts”:

Tis a gift to be simple, ‘tis a gift to be fair
‘Tis a gift to wake and breathe the morning air.
And each day we walk on the path that we choose,
‘Tis a gift we pray we never shall lose

But the wedding was, as we say in New England, “wicked elegant.” It was just fantastic because it met one of the definitions of elegant which is “pleasingly graceful and stylish in appearance and manner.”

More Simple Things
It turns out there are hundreds of thousands of Google pages with simple solutions to being happy, secure, healthy, fit, and more.
Business Should Strive for “Simple”

Harvard Business Review in May of 2012, said that simplicity is an important dimension in achieving customer satisfaction and loyalty.

“For a marketing organization, what does it take to acquire sticky consumers?”

The Harvard Business School Study found that the best tool for measuring consumer-engagement efforts is the “decision simplicity index,” a gauge of how easy it is for consumers to gather and understand (or navigate) information about a brand, how much they can trust the information they find, and how readily they can weigh their options. The easier a brand makes the purchase-decision journey, the higher its decision-simplicity score. Brands that scored in the top quarter of their study were 86 percent more likely than those in the bottom quarter to be purchased by the consumers considering them. They were 9 percent more likely to be repurchased and 115 percent more likely to be recommended to others.

This approach is broadly applicable to organizations. Many companies should try to be simple.

Enterprise Content Management is Simple
Who said it?

No one!

This level of change required for enterprise content management is inherently complex. But the move can be easy, cost-effective, and successful if you keep it simple.

Moving to Enterprise Content Management—what do we need to do?

1.    Establish a common information architecture with structured writing and structured mark-up with XML underneath.
2.    Adapt the current technology stack for authoring, repository, and publishing.
3.    Adopt modern processes to separate authoring and publishing, use metadata, support conditional publishing, and implement work flow.
4.    Adapt the culture to promote the common good with an agile approach that respects different objectives, skill levels, and needs.
5.    Communicate well and tolerate differences.

Keep It Simple Smart-person

How can we keep it simple?
Throughout the organization you need to:

  • Use existing tools wherever possible with the common thread of structured content and XML under the covers.  An XML architecture like DITA will help you do so.
  • Let the technical organizations adopt a more granular XML architecture with the rest of the organization using the same XML structure, but with fewer elements and nuances.
  • Implement a system to provide everything each group absolutely needs and nothing more with an attitude of the “least change possible.”
  • Make your own way, but get some perspective from industry conferences, networking opportunities, and experienced consultants.

Help from Forrest Gump?

Can we apply Forrest’s wisdom to Content Management?

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While technical XML experts are comfortable using an XML Editor like XMetaL, most of your organization probably uses Microsoft Word. So let them use that interface with Content Mapper to produce high quality, useful XML. Content Mapper was designed to leverage modern content management tools and processes.

While technical XML experts are comfortable using an XML Editor like XMetaL, most of your organization probably uses Microsoft Word. So let them use that interface with Content Mapper to produce high quality, useful XML. Content Mapper was designed to leverage modern content management tools and processes.

And at Simply XML, we will continue to strive for “wicked elegant,” or “pleasingly ingenious and simple!”
Good luck on your journey.

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