JoAnn Hackos on Predicting DITA cost savings

Monday, November 19 2012 @ 12:05 PM, By Maxwell Hoffmann

Our November 19th webinar with Dr. JoAnn Hackos of The Center for Information-Development Management (CIDM) covered an insightful strategy in determining how to accurate predict cost savings with DITA. This issue has been a key “bug-a-boo” with many customers, who know that they need to move to DITA, but who need a compelling business case for management “buy in” before they can move on.

You can view the recorded webinar “Adopting DITA to Reduce Costs and Increase Productivity–Backing up your Claims” by clicking here. This blog covers key highlights that you may wish to review before watching the recording.

What you can expect from a move to DITA and topic-based authoring

Dr. Hackos had savings divided into four logical categories. But the following list, pulled from her slides, shows the breadth of areas where dramatic savings are likely to occur when you move to a topic-based authoring solution:

  • Decrease the cost of desktop publishing or other formatting for both source content and multiple languages
  • Decrease the cost of translating text and graphics into multiple languages
  • Eliminate the need to support multiple authoring and production tools
  • Reduce the time required to update existing content
  • Reduce the time required to create new content and reduce its time to market by sharing content among product types and deliverables
  • Reduce the time required for technical reviews of content
  • Reduce the backlog of desirable projects that you have not had time to pursue

DITA savings with Desktop publishing

Recent research by Dr. Hackos indicated that:

  • 30 to 50% of writing time is spent on fixing desktop publishing (DTP)
  • Comtech study showed 50% of support engineering time was spent trying to fix desktop publishing errors

DITA can also magnify DTP savings when content is translated into other languages; DTP can add up to 30-50% of translation project costs. A research study revealed an example of $10,000 savings when translating 4 Help Systems into just 5 languages.

Because DITA separates formatting from content (and when properly implemented) can make formatting virtually “bullet proof,” some DITA projects have reduced billable DTP time from months to “0 minutes.” (You will have to view the webinar recording for full details; it’s worth it!)

Importance of a basic content reuse strategy

Standardized copyright, hazard statements can be saved once and “used everywhere.” Topic collections may be repeated in multiple outputs.

The research shared in this webinar included one case study example in which a DITA project had less than 15% new content. Language translation costs were reduced from $50,000 to $1,500.

Complex content reuse strategy

An extract drawn from one of Dr. Hackos’ slides reveals that:

  • Cost-reduction strategies
    • Roles are much more specific and narrow. Writers writer, publishers publish, and graphic designs design technical art.
    • Absolutely no tolerance for shortcuts. Adherence to process is critical.
    • Dedicated training GURU, dedicated publisher, instituted Best Practice sharing, have trained other groups on our processes so they can use the CMS
    • Normalizing content to reduce content duplication and reduce total topic and word count

High level cost-reduction strategy

A brief highlight on the 4th level of DITA implementation covers the following:

  • Advanced strategies mean more significant changes
    • Minimalism – providing information your customers really want
    • Terminology management – quality in language
    • Reduced time to market
    • Less exposure to risk

Conclusions

The more organized and persistent the organization in implementing best practices and putting new processes in place, the greater the return on investment.

It pays to do it right!

Have your own hands-on with structure and decide how you can use it

Adobe Technical Communication Suite 4 includes FrameMaker 11, which is an excellent structured editor for DITA/XML. The possibilities with these new tools are as limitless as the profiles of our existing and potential customers. To discover how you can use FrameMaker, download a trial copy of FrameMaker 11 today. After having your own hands-on, you may decide in favor of the best bargain of all, obtaining a cloud subscription to the entire Tech Comm Suite 4, which includes RoboHelp 10, Captivate 6 and other products in addition to FrameMaker 11.

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