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When your organization makes the decision to adopt Darwin Information Typing Architecture (DITA), you’ll need to determine the scope of the effort, including what to do with the existing content. That’s why an audit of your content in preparation for conversion to DITA is a key step in the DITA adoption process. In the Phases of DITA Adoption, the content audit should be performed either in the Investigation Phase or the Pilot Phase, depending on when you can get budgetary approval. the earlier in the DITA adoption process you can perform the content audit, the more likely you can manage the entire effort according to your planned timeline and budget. More importantly, performing a DITA content audit helps you bring your future efforts into focus.
Why Perform a DITA Content Audit?
A big portion of your DITA adoption effort is converting and managing legacy content. Very simply, the DITA content audit helps prepare you to convert your content to DITA. Here are just a few of the key reasons:
- Identify, gather, and itemize the content to be converted.
- Determine the quality of the content in terms of fitting into the topic-based writing paradigm.
- Identify potential issues for converting to DITA.
- Produce enough information to scope the DITA conversion effort.
- Identify areas for re-work prior to conversion.
Who Performs the Audit?
Because they’re trained to scope and identify issues unique to DITA, a seasoned DITA expert should perform your content audit. A DITA expert will also have the skills in topic-based writing in addition to deep knowledge of DITA architecture.
If you have a seasoned DITA expert on staff, then you can perform the audit in house. However, most companies looking at DITA adoption do not have the in-house expertise and will bring in DITA consultants to perform the audit for them.
What kind of Output and Results will the Audit Deliver?
Your audit will result in a few deliverables including:
- A report of the audit findings
- A spreadsheet of the documents audited, along with the page count, file format, and any other pertinent information
From these deliverables, DITA adoption stakeholders will have an idea of where to put their efforts for the subsequent phases of adoption. The following sample table of contents from a DITA content audit report underscores how the audit supports overall planning and implementation of your DITA adoption
Sample Table of Contents for an Audit Report
- Goals of Audit
- Goals of DITA Adoption
- Quality of Writing
- Adherence to Topic Paradigm
- Minimalism Score
- Usability of Content
- Conditions Used
- Templates Used
- Consistent Use of Templates and Styles
Areas for Improvement
- Clean Up Prior to Conversion
Roadblocks and Risks
Areas for Opportunity
- Text insets/reuse
- Conditions that Map to Attributes
Suggestions for Conversion
What Else Can the Content Audit Do for the Organization?
Some companies take the opportunity of a content audit to perform a more comprehensive audit that covers processes, tools, and resources (including people and skill sets).
Such a comprehensive audit would include everything in a content audit, plus:
- Tools currently used to create, manage, store, review, publish, track, gather comments on content for internal and external users
- Processes currently in use
- Resources and skills that are used and unused
- Pain points authors are experiencing with management
- Available training
- Lack of training
- Pain points for tools and processes
- User experience of content (findability, navigation, goal-based, customized for user type, feedback mechanisms, etc.)
- Metrics addressing content creation, content lifecycle, user satisfaction
- Attitude of authors towards adoption (willingness to engage)
- Possible enterprise adoption opportunities
The content audit is one of the first steps towards a successful DITA adoption. It helps not only identify the current state of your content but will also give you a good indication of where DITA can help you the most and how much work it will be to adopt DITA.
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