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STRUCTURED

CONTENT

44%

DITA

81%

of companies create
structured XML
content

BENCHMARKING SURVEY

SUMMARY RESULTS

Agile documentation adoption slow,


not always successful
of companies that
create structured
content use DITA

OTHER FLAVORS
30%
16%

2012 TECHNICAL COMMUNICATION INDUSTRY

use custom XML DTDs


use DocBook

The majority of technical documentation and training


departments have not adopted an agile approach to creating
and publishing content. Agile methods are based on iterative
and incremental cycles that promote adaptive planning,
evolutionary development, and flexible responses to change.
While 45% of companies surveyed claim to apply agile
development principles to TechComm projects, few do it
successfully. Typical challenges include organizational silos,
lack of governance, differing approaches. The waterfall
development method is the dominant approach in use today.

Biggest challenge is the lack of content strategy


Our benchmarking survey
uncovered a wide variety of
challenges facing companies that
produce technical documentation
and training content. The biggest
challenge identified was the lack of
a formal content strategy.
Commonly cited symptoms of
organizations lacking a content
strategy include:

Inability to effectively reuse


content
Creation of inconsistent,
inaccurate, or mediocre quality
content

The next biggest challenges:


Lack of governance
Lack of time, money and
resources

Producing content of unknown


customer value
Process problems and production
bottlenecks

WHAT INNOVATIONS ARE YOU PLANNING FOR THE FUTURE?

21% 14% 11%

Moving to topic-based content models


like the Darwin Information Typing
Architecture is the most common
innovation planned for the future
cited by 21% of companies.

The adoption of a component content


management system is the second
most common innovation planned for
the futurecited by 14% of companies.

DITA/XML

CCMS

Creating video documentation and


training content is the third most
common innovation planned for the
futurecited by 11% of companies.

VIDEO

Common methods of content reuse


Content reuse is the practice of using existing content components to develop
new documents. Although the majority of reusable content is text-based, any
content can be reused (such as graphics, charts, media). Text-based materials are the
easiest to reuse. You can reuse sections, paragraphs, sentences, or even words.

CONTENT
REUSE

85%

of companies reuse
documentation and
training content

5%

of companies that reuse


content have done so
either to innovate or
respond to threats or
opportunities quickly

There are three primary methods of reusing content employed by companies today.
Copy-and-paste
Most often, when an author realizes the need to reuse a piece of content, they copy it
from one document and paste it into another. This copy-and-paste form of content reuse
is quite naturaleven convenientbut introduces potential problems. Because the
content is actually cloned (duplicated in each document in which it is reused) and each
reused piece exists on its own (disconnected from its source content, unable to be easily
located, retrieved, and updated) copy-and-paste is the most error-prone, inefficient and
costly method of content reuse.
Manual reuse
In manual reusethe most common form of content reuseauthors manually locate a
component of content, retrieve it, and reuse it, Manual reuse doesnt rely on specific
technology. Although it can be accomplished without a content management system
(CMS), managing manual reuse is best accomplished with the help of a CMS.
Manual reuse makes it easy for organizations to rapidly
reconfigure reusable content into new information
products. It works well for source language and
translated content. Manual reuse provides authors
with the greatest flexibility, but is problematic as it
usually results in the lowest incidence of reuse because
it puts the burden of reusing content on the authors. If
authors lack motivation, if they are unaware that
reusable components exist, or if they have trouble
finding it, reuse may not occur.
Automatic reuse
Automatic reuse is planned reuse. Specific content is
identified as reusable in a specific location. Then the
content management system automatically inserts
(auto-populates) the reusable content in the
appropriate locations in the document. The
author does not have to determine whether
the reusable content exists or search for
and retrieve it.

Drawbacks of
content reuse

Writing challenges

30%

Upfront investment

25%

Governance

22%

Quality assurance

20%

Sharing conflicts
Change management

17%
12%

Difficulty finding

11%

Automatic reuse ensures that content is


reused and reduces the burden on the
author to know that reusable content
exists, to find the reusable content, and to
insert it appropriately. This reuse method is
dependent upon detailed information
models, reuse maps (identification of where
content is reused in an information set),
and support for dynamic delivery of content
through your content management system.
This means that automatic reuse is planned
for in advance, in the modeling and system
configuration stage. Authors do not
determine reuse; the system determines
reuse.

Source: Managing Enterprise Content: A


Unified Content Strategy by Ann Rockley and
Charles Cooper (2012, New Riders). Info:
www.managingenterprisecontent.com

BENEFITS
Increased consistency

30%
Ease of maintenance and

updating

25%
Lower total cost

Customers are editing


and creating content
Companies are finding interesting
ways to leverage the power of the
crowd to help them create, update,
and improve documentation and
training content.
20% of companies allow their
customers to edit documentation
and training content. Many of these
firms use wiki-based tools that
provide customers with web-based
editing capability. Edits usually
undergo a review and approval
process, although 8% of firms allow
trusted customers to edit and
publish corrections without formal
review.
The level of scrutiny customersubmitted edits undergo before
going live is not only a matter of
trust, it is also directly linked to the
type of content being produced and
the liability or non-compliance risk
associated with customers editing
that content.
Similarly, 17% of companies today
allow customers to create
documentation and training content.
More than one-third of those

Online Support Communities


of companies provide customers with access
to an online support forum or online
community
WHO IS RESPONSIB
LE

Its necessary to
monitor activities tha
t
take place on online
forums and in
customer support
communities. But, wh
o
should be responsibl
e?

32%

of companies rely on their customer


service or technical support staff to
monitor online support forums and
online communities

20%

of companies distribute responsibility across multiple


roles (marketing, support, customer service, technical
communication, training,
and subject matter experts

companies employ a dedicated community manager to


10% ofmonitor
online support forums
companies encourage customers to do
so.
The reasons for not allowing
customers to create content are
usually related to concerns about
quality (30%), liability and regulatory
compliance concerns (22%). Lack of
management support (18%) and lack
of proper infrastructure and/or

technology (18%) are also commonly


cited reasons for customers not being
allowed to create content.
Interestingly, about 10% of companies
say their customers are creating
documentation and training (and
publishing them online) without their
approval.

CUSTOMER FEEDBACK AND RATINGS


While the mechanisms put in place to
help customers provide feedback
about documentation and training
content vary widely from old school
approaches like surveys and
interviews to newer methods like blog
comments and Facebook-style likes
organizations that use reactions
from customers to improve content
quality say they are looking for ways
to gather immediate feedback. Theyre
also looking for ways to put that
feedback to good use.

Companies that do it well enjoy many


benefits, the most valuable include:
improved customer support scores
(47%), improved content quality
(17%), support call deflection (16%),
reduced support call volume (13%),
and reduced average call handling
time (12%).
Additional improvements include:
spotting problems with product
design, spotting process problems, as
well as a reduction in negative
feedback and complaints.

RATING METHODS
Call center feedback

63%

Customer surveys

60%

Online forms

42%

Customer interviews

40%

Online ratings

30%

Adobe FrameMaker Is Most Used Product


authoring tools go, FrameMaker is
used more than Microsoft Word
(35%) and XMetaL Author (11%).

We asked survey respondents the


following question: What software
tools does your company use to
create, manage and deliver
documentation and training
content?
As it turns out, technical
communication and training
departments use a wide variety of
tools to get the job done. Software
varies based on the type of work
performed and the industry sector
served.
The top ten most common tools are
manufactured by four companies (see
list at right). Adobe leads the pack
with five of the top ten tools.
Microsoft and TechSmith have two
tools each on the list; JustSystems
has one.
Adobe FrameMaker is most used
Companies that create technical
documentation are most likely to do
so with the help of Adobe
FrameMaker (41%). As far as

Snagit captures the second spot


TechSmith Snagit proves to be the
second most popular tool used by
technical communication and
training pros. 35% of companies that
produce technical documentation and
training have it in their tool chest.
Microsoft is still in the mix
Microsoft Word is the third most used
software product. 35% of companies
use Word often along side other
authoring tools. Its Office-mate and
code-sharing cousin, PowerPoint also
holds a spot in the top ten with 11%
of companies using the software for
training and other purposes.
Adobe is the dominant force
28% of companies surveyed use
Acrobat Pro to create documentation
and training deliverables, making it
the fourth most commonly used tool.
Adobe also holds the fifth spot with
Captivatethe most often used
screen recording tool (20%)and the
sixth spot with online help mainstay,
RoboHelp.
XML Authoring with XMetaL
11% of companies use XMetaL for
XML authoring, making it the 8th
most used tool among those surveyed.

DISCLAIMER AND ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

2012 Technical Communication Industry


Benchmarking Survey Summary

THE TOP TEN MOST USED


SOFTWARE PRODUCTS

1.

Adobe FrameMaker 41%

2.

TechSmith Snagit 35%

3.

Microsoft Word 35%

4.

Adobe Acrobat Pro 28%

5.

Adobe Captivate 20%

6.

Adobe RoboHelp 19%

7.

TechSmith Camtasia 12%

8.

XMetaL Author 11%

9.

Microsoft PowerPoint 11%

10.

Adobe Photoshop 11%

Top 5 Most Used CCMS

Component Content
Management Systems

1 SDL LiveContent
2

Vasont

Astoria

BlueStream XDo
cs

This is a summary of the 2012 Technical Communication Industry Benchmarking Survey


(conducted by The Content Wrangler, Inc.) an informal, web-based survey that compares
responses from over 500 companies from countries around the globe. The results are not
scientific, but do provide us with meaningful data points and help us spot trends. The majority of survey respondents work for firms in the
computer software and hardware sector (63%), followed by the financial services sector (9%), life sciences and healthcare (9%) ,
telecommunication (5%), publishing and media (3%) and others. This summary is provided for informational purposes only. The Content
Wrangler, Inc. is not providing advice, nor do we warrant the accuracy or completeness of this information. The results of the survey do not in
any way constitute an endorsement or recommendation of any of the brands, methods, products or approaches mentioned. Use due diligence
whenever deciding whether or not to adopt new information management tools, techniques or processes.

Questions? Email: scott@thecontentwrangler.com Office: 415.857.2235


The Content Wrangler 4153 24th Street Suite 4, San Francisco CA 94114

The Content Wrangler