DITA without a CCMS (and why you might want one)

DITA without a CCMS

A team considering a DITA content strategy often hesitates due to the concern that they might need a CCMS. Teams want to know whether they can operate without a CCMS, and how to determine whether they need one. A small team can manage a DITA content strategy without a CCMS in certain sectors.

Does my DITA environment need a CCMS?

A subset of DITA environments can operate without a CCMS if they meet the following criteria:

  • The team using DITA is small.
    A team with fewer than ten authors, and about the same number of reviewers might be able to operate without a CCMS. Managing DITA in a larger team becomes unwieldy, and a CCMS provides value.
  • The volume of content is small.
    Managing up to several hundred DITA topics and maps, and media files, is feasible with well-defined file names and directory structures, and provided the team defines clear practices, such as file naming conventions, and maintains disciplined compliance with those practices.
  • The sector in which the team operates is not regulated.
    Unregulated sectors do not face the metadata management and change tracking requirements faced by regulated sectors.
  • The organization does not translate its content.
    If you do not translate, you do not need the CCMS functionality that tracks translated content and omits this content when building translation bundles for translation and localization vendors.

A team that meets these criteria can manage content using open-source version control tools, such as subversion or git, to store and manage the content, and using the DITA Open Toolkit (DITA OT) to publish content.

When do you need a CMS?

As the number of authors on your team reaches the high single-digits, a CMS becomes a beneficial tool to coordinate the work of the team. The effort required to coordinate and manage practice increases with the number of team members, and the risk of miscommunication or error also increases. More team members maintaining individual environments also increases cost. After the number of team members exceeds a dozen, a CCMS shows real value. The cost of managing practice and individual environments approaches the annual cost of the CCMS. At this point, a CCMS with a collaborative review functionality, which allows authors and reviewers to collaborate on content, improves the efficiency of the overall team.

Likewise, a small team with well-defined practices and tight review processes, can manage several hundred files. As the number of DITA files to manage approaches 1,000, the effort to maintain the volume of content becomes more and more unwieldy and requires more team effort. Managing more than 1,000 files without a CCMS requires so much effort and team time that it is hardly economical.

If you are in a regulated sector, a CCMS is required to manage the metadata and change tracking as required by regulatory authorities. Similarly, if you translate your content, managing translation of DITA content without a CMS that includes translation management features is not feasible, and will likely result in unnecessary costs. A CMS can keep track of content that has been translated, and filter that content out of translation bundles, keeping your translation costs down.

Tahzoo is happy to help you assess whether you need a CCMS, help you determine your CCMS requirements and find a fit for your team, or to help you implement a proof of concept to assess the feasibility of a DITA content strategy for your organization.

ROBERT JOHNSON

Senior Content Strategist

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