Anne S. Bovard, Comtech Services, Inc.

Comtech Services, Inc. conducted a poll of Best Practices 2007 Conference attendees last month in Atlanta, Georgia. Lured by the promise of live results and free bubblegum, participants were asked to describe current practices at their organization. We asked for feedback on the following statements:

    1. We coordinate localizations through our department. (yes or no)


    1. We have performed a User & Task Analysis (at a customer site) within the last 12 months. (yes or no)


  1. Our current reuse strategy is: (pick one)
    • manual cut and paste
    • FrameMaker text insets
    • Automated with XML
  2. We currently have a dedicated Information Architect on staff. (yes or no).

We were amazed at our unintentional ability to divide the conference participants in half! Responses to each of the four questions were exactly 50% plus or minus 1%!

Question 1

49% of participants polled coordinate localizations through their department versus 51% of participants who either don’t translate or outsource localizations.

Question 2

We were pleased to see that 50% of participants polled had completed an on-site User Study or Task Analysis within the previous 12 months.

Question 3

Reuse strategies were varied with over half of participants (51%) indicating that their primarily reuse strategy is achieved with automated XML. 25% of participants rely on FrameMaker insets and the remaining 24% employ manual cut and paste.

Question 4

A surprising 49% of those polled have a dedicated Information Architect on staff.

The results of this very informal poll show us that half of you appear to be on the right track (in the minds of the Comtech crew) in your documentation effort. But we don’t know if half of you had the ‘correct’ answer for all four questions. Has anyone out there completed their recent User Study but not made the switch to XML? I bet the answer is yes.

An interesting observation is that about half of this years conference attendees have attended past Best Practices conferences and half are newcomers. Are past participants answering differently than newcomers?

Next year in Santa Fe we will refine our bubblegum study using colored balls to identify past participants at Best Practices. It is our fervent hope that we will find that attending Best Practices is correlated with progressive improvements in Information Development.

Come back next year to drop your color-coordinated gumballs. Thank you to all who participated this year! See you in Santa Fe!

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