Phases of DITA Adoption

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As a technical content producer, you may already understand the value that Darwin Information Typing Architecture (DITA) can bring to your organization. But no matter how enthusiastic you and your team might be, DITA Adoption is not something you can accomplish overnight. DITA is a major investment of time and effort, and it requires careful planning and implementation, as well as the support and participation of the enterprise.

To plan for a successful transition to DITA, you should understand the scope of DITA Adoption, both the phases of this unique change management challenge, and the roles that people will need to take on to make it happen. As a companion to this article, read the feature article published by the OASIS DITA Adoption Technical Committee on DITA Roles and Responsibilities (PDF download) .

DITA-adoption-phases

Investigation

The Investigation phase of DITA adoption presents the opportunity for key stakeholders to learn about DITA and begin to understand how DITA can specifically benefit their content. The table below lists the high-level activities that should occur

Investigation Phase Description
Activities
  • Learn about DITA
  • Gather requirements
  • Determine likely ROI
  • Build business case
  • Gather baseline metrics
Stakeholders
  • Content owners
  • Content manager
Goal Compile enough information to be able to communicate the business case, benefits, and risks of a DITA Adoption to other stakeholders.

Selling

Once you’ve armed yourself with information about DITA, it’s time to begin the Selling phase. You goal is to seek approval from the enterprise to proceed with a pilot of DITA adoption, so you must “sell” management on the idea. In fact, this is often the most difficult phase to successfully complete because it requires that you put the value of DITA in business terms rather than technological ones.

During the selling phase, you’ll communicate the business case, suggest a likely return on investment, and, if all goes well, acquire initial budgetary approval. Keep in mind that you may return to this phase several times before you complete the journey: before the Pilot, after the Pilot, and during Adoption.

The Selling phase is most likely to be successful when, and if you acquire a sponsor in the enterprise. This person is usually a senior manager and can understand the value of DITA adoption in general terms. A sponsor can help you refine your communication to stakeholders, advocate for the project, and keep the lines of communication open and positive.

Selling Phase Description
Activities
  • Communicate business case
Stakeholders
  • Content manager
  • Sponsor
  • IT
  • Senior managers
Goal Get approval to move forward with a pilot.

The TechWhirl DITA portal can help you build what you need for this phase. Other resources include books, articles, webinars, and whitepapers from DITA consultants and vendors of DITA-related tools.

Pilot

The pilot phase is where you take a first step towards DITA without committing the organization or its resources to a full adoption. It’s a chance to get hands on with your own content in DITA and some of the tools. The Pilot phase often benefits from the involvement of a consultant, who can steer you toward the right combination of tools and processes, create a content strategy that matches your business requirements, and help you maximize your DITA potential.

Although this phase can be a lot of fun, the goal is to actually prove that your DITA adoption can be a success and can bring the savings you anticipated.

Information Technology will also be a key participant in the pilot, ensuring that you’ll have the infrastructure support you need for success as well as helping you select tools that will meet enterprise requirements.

Pilot Phase Description
Activities
  • Get hands on with content and some tools
  • Get initial training for key writers
  • Do a trial conversion content to DITA
  • Create initial content strategy
  • Tool investigation
Stakeholders
  • Content manager
  • Key writers
  • Sponsor
  • IT
Goal Prove that the DITA adoption can achieve your ROI goals and is still aligned with your business case. Get approval for full adoption.

Adoption

The adoption phase is where you develop your content strategy enough to make tool choices, get the rest of your content converted, and get all your writers up and running with DITA. It includes moving to full implementation with tools.

Adoption Phase Description
Activities
  • Determine end-to-end processes and tools
  • Build out the toolset/solution
  • Get training for all writers
  • Convert core of content to DITA
  • Develop content strategy
  • Get metrics to compare against baseline metrics
Stakeholders
  • Writers
  • Content manager
  • IT
Goal
  • Get up and running with DITA
  • Use real numbers to prove your ROI
  • Branch out to other departments that generate related content

 Continuous Improvement

You’ve investigated, sold, piloted, and adopted… now what? The continuous improvement phase occurs after you have adopted DITA, and allows you to fine tune it to maximize your savings, streamline your processes, and update your tools.

Remember that the content strategy is an ever-evolving project for your organization. One that changes as technology changes and as your users change. Continuous improvement matches how your organization evolves with DITA to users and the tools.

Sadly, Continuous Improvement is the one most often forgotten, but the one that reaps the greatest rewards, usually financial. Plan for Continuous Improvement from the beginning of your DITA Adoption process to maximize the benefits for you, your team, and your organization.

Continuous Improvement Phase Description
Activities
  • Update content strategy to ever-changing requirements
  • Continue to improve upon processes and tools
  • Maximize savings
  • Report savings and metrics
Stakeholders
  • Writers
  • Content manager
  • Sponsor
Goal
  • Fine tune DITA implementation
  • Keep improving
  • Share success with others

 

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Jacquie Samuels

Jacquie Samuels is the owner of Writing Wise. She endeavors to help everyone create documentation that is stronger, faster, and smarter. You can connect with Jacquie through her Google Plus page.

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