By Suzanne Mescan, Vasont Systems, special to

Your organization is considering implementing a content management strategy. What will you need to get started?

  1. Pick a content model. If your content is not yet in a structured form, you must choose a model for your content. Several standard DTDs (document type definitions) exist – such as DITA, DocBook, and others – and can get you started more quickly if your content fits one of these models. Do some investigation to see if there is an established standard for your industry that you should conform to (such as S1000D). If your organization has special requirements, consider building your own custom DTD.
  2. Define a content conversion strategy. If you must make the move to XML, determine if you need to convert everything all at once or if you can migrate your content incrementally over time. An analysis of your content may show that it is not necessary to convert all legacy content at first, but to convert it only as the need arises. This strategy may save you money over converting everything at once and finding you only need some of the content.
  3. Determine a method for creating content. Think about what type of content you need to write and how you want that writing process to flow. Also, consider how your users will access the content. This will guide you in selecting a tool for authoring content.
  4. Plan an efficient workflow. Think about the ideal flow for editing, reviewing, and publishing your content. Document any specific needs to make that ideal workflow a reality.
  5. Decide on deliverables.What deliverables do you need now and in the future? This is a great opportunity to decide whether you want to continue doing what youve been doing or head in a new direction.
  6. Plan for staffing requirements. You may have internal expertise in your organization to tap into to implement a content management strategy, but other staff members may require additional training in XML or specific writing techniques. You may also need to hire new staff with specific skills. Build these staffing requirements into your overall plan.

About the author—Suzanne Mescan, Vice President of Marketing for Vasont Systems, is responsible for the Company’s overall marketing and public relations efforts. She has more than 20 years of experience in the information management and publishing industry. Suzanne authored numerous articles about content management and delivered presentations at the Content Management Strategies conference, Vasont Users’ Group Meetings, and in numerous industry webinars.