October 22, 2007 Program Summary

Document Design on a Dime:
How to Tame Your Unruly Avalanche of Information with Cost-Effective Planning and Publishing Techniques

Newsletter and coffeeOur October 22nd event presented a down-to-earth, highly practical, problem/solution-oriented overview of strategies you can use to manage — and optimize — the way your organization creates and publishes information for internal or external use. We were fortunate to welcome back information content management expert Jeff Deskins, a member of our board of directors, to give this presentation.

Why is this topic important? You do not have to work for a big company to have big-company headaches and challenges. Smaller companies such as technology start-ups, local banks, and insurance companies frequently produce everything from internal procedures to sales literature, marketing materials, user documents, training guides, and more. Often, no master plan exists to prevent the information from mushrooming out of control. If you are a freelance professional, you'll also need to know how to advise your clients in these critical areas.

The presentation offered an eye-opening source of insight and relief, designed especially for small companies with tiny budgets, few resources, and very little knowledge about information management. You don't have to have a large organization or deep pockets to experience information production spinning out of control!

What are common information problems, even for tiny startup companies? Here are some of the highlights we covered:

1) As companies grow, information often becomes more and more unsynchronized. Different people begin spinning off their own versions of Web content, sales literature, price lists, planning documents, marketing materials, user documents, training guides, etc. Pretty soon all the sets of sales information are out of synch; outdated brochures are going out that don't match the training guides; products specs keep changing and produce a never-ending spiral of obsolete information.

2) Even when these companies want to stay on top of all of the changes, keeping their information current and congruent often means going into all of these separate documents and updating them individually. That's an extremely labor-intensive and time-consuming task!

3) Companies frequently don't know how to plan for and publish all of the variations of their information, such as the Web versions, translated versions, product platform derivatives, etc. For example, they start off with one basic product, and before long, have multiple product lines that use the same core technology, but create different documents. Soon, it's all changing monthly, upping the ante and increasing the pace to a frantic level. Yet they still only have 10 employees — so, what should they do?

Download Jeff's presentation here:

Jeff Deskins is an expert on content management who last presented to the chapter in 2005. Jeff is a Solutions Architect and Principal Consultant formerly with Arbortext, the makers of enterprise systems for creating, managing, publishing, and delivering information. Jeff has just returned to the Central Coast from a position in the Seattle area, and has joined our board of directors.



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