Bill Gearhart, Comtech Services, Inc.

The 2012 CIDM Rare Bird Award was won by Freescale Semiconductor’s Information Development Ecosystem Advantage (IDEA) initiative submitted by Bob Beims. Michael Tsurikov of Freescale accepted the award at the CIDM Best Practices Conference banquet on September 11, 2012 in Monterey, California.

Freescales’s IDEA is a methodology employed to incorporate information development into all phases of the product lifecycle. At the root of the methodology is an XML-based development environment supported by an enterprise-wide repository. Focused on single-sourcing, requirements traceability, and a user-based approach to providing the documentation that their customers need, Freescale has made impressive improvements in its information-development strategy.

Freescale’s goals for IDEA included:

  • Integrating information development throughout the product lifecycle
  • Aggressively reusing information
  • Automatically generating specialized content
  • Linking external product data into customer content

The results have been truly outstanding productivity gains throughout the company, and increased usability and access to crucial information for customers. Technical information for Freescale products is intertwined with the products themselves, aligning formerly disconnected flows around common xml name spaces. The critical task of information development spans the entire product development lifecycle, and is treated as essential. Throughout the slimmed-down IDEA process, all members of the team—from product management to publications to development and quality assurance—are actively involved with the xml-based content and ensure it addresses the identified customer needs.

The xml-based architecture has been integrated quickly with Freescales’ traditional publishing environment, and through careful modeling has led to impressive increases in efficiency through reuse. Because the XML name spaces are used in so many different industries and customer workflows, the essential reference information is available for immediate reuse, allowing information developers to focus on the higher-level information needs of each customer segment.

In addition to the gains in traditional publishing, in 2012 Freescale extended the IDEA methodology to include their Direct Access Publishing Service (DAPS) to build directly from their API through the DITA Open Toolikit without flowing through the component content management system (CCMS). Thousands of publications were processed through that pipeline in a 4 month period, with a significant amount sourced directly from the API code without any direct involvement by the Information Development team. The Information Development team set up the process, requirements, and style sheets to ensure the proper high-quality information was produced for customers, and let the build process manage the production of the documents. In addition to saving countless hours for the Information Development team, the Software Development teams realized a savings of 18 person-days per year per project. Furthermore, many of the publications processed were in a format other than pdf—a crucial response to customer needs for a more discreet, flexible, usable, and customizable delivery channel.

The CIDM Rare Bird judging panel lauded the Freescale team for “outstanding vision, tremendous efficiency, and a transformative process that truly integrates information development as a value-add throughout the entire product development life cycle.” With all of those achievements, it’s clear to see that Freescale’s IDEA was a strong submission and clearly deserving of the 2012 CIDM Rare Bird award.