Anne Bovard, Comtech Services, Inc.

Thanks to all of our 2009 Rare Bird submitters. Our community members continue to strive towards improving process and efficiency with outstanding innovations and leadership. Here is a brief description of the entries:

Entry 1: DITA Metrics: Developing cost metrics

Submitted by Mark Lewis, QUARK

Quark developed a metrics methodology for DITA. They first devised a model to determine the cost of a DITA topic rather than a traditional page. Then they incorporated the savings garnered by creating reusable master topics with a conditional filtering strategy. The cost model has enabled QUARK to provide more accurate project scheduling and resource management. Furthermore, the metrics have helped to prove the savings possible with DITA’s structured, topic-based writing foundation and reuse potential.

Entry 2: UTM Workbook: Information design tool for task-oriented, topic-based user assistance

Submitted by Uta Bamberger & Katy Mullally, Symantec

Symantec developed the User Topic Matrix (UTM) workbook, a content planning and designing tool for topic-based authoring. A culmination of efforts, the workbook was built with input and assistance from across the enterprise—information developers, InfoDev managers, information architects, and customer relationship owners across the company contributed. The UTM Workbook helps information developers focus on the identity, goals, and needs of their audience. The workbook also reinforces a common information design at Symantec, aids in visualization of content for planning, and helps with prioritizing efforts. The layout of the UTM workbook and the clarity with which it provides for the organization of information is extraordinary, and it improves the efficiency of groups moving to topic-based content architectures.

Entry 3: OneDoc Program

Submitted by Volker Oemisch, Alcatel-Lucent

When Alcatel and Lucent merged in 2006, documentation was created by two different organizations with two very different models of information design and development. Driven by the need for one overarching strategy, OneDoc was born. Alcatel-Lucent’s OneDoc program defines common processes, standards, and tools in one community of information development. OneDoc also relies on regular analysis and planning workshops, monthly information development community meetings to involve all developers globally, regular communication with leadership, and annual “summit” meetings of the global documentation development management.

The result is a textbook case for identifying and implementing best practices in a merger environment. Many companies give best practices lip-service during acquisitions and mergers. Alcatel-Lucent achieved real return that benefitted customers, cut costs, and resulted in an empowered team.

Entry 4: Creating a Customer e-Survey

Submitted by Bill Tilley, Symantec

Symantec reported on the implementation of e-surveys in their information development processes. The surveys help to identify Symantec’s target audience, showing how users retrieve content, locate topics, and rate those topics. Symantec has found the survey to be a good method for highlighting what customers consider important, and the customer data gathered supports the direction of the Info Dev teams. Using this customer-focused approach, Symantec is confident that the quality of their information will be greatly improved.

Entry 5: Tool-based Documentation Verification

Submitted by Robert Wright, Cisco

Cisco implemented a GUI tool to automate a previously manual process. The tool helps to ferret out documentation that contains inaccurately documented CLI syntax by comparing the documented CLI syntax with the CLI syntax in the source code. The savings in time helps writers focus on other improvements in the documentation. Cisco reports the return of investment of this tool exceeds 900%.

2009 Judging has been completed

Our judges have completed their review and selection process for the 2009 Rare Bird Award Winner. Director JoAnn Hackos will announce the winner at the Best Practices Conference later this month. Please join us at the Tuesday evening Awards Banquet to honor this year’s recipient.

Thank you to Bill Gearhart for his review of this article and helpful suggestions.