By Sarah Baca
Orlando Chapter STC
Our President Karen Lane gave us a wonderful introduction to the Orlando Central Florida Chapter Active Member Program. We were excited to have a few new members join us for the meeting this month. They introduced themselves to all of us.
Patricia Cruz told us about the IEEE conference, October 8th to 10th at the University of Central Florida. The conference focuses on graphic design and user experience. She offered to give more information to those who are interested.
Karen Lane told us about a southwest (Osceola, Disney, etc.) area mixer for members and nonmembers.
Our Speaker: Debra from Wyndham Vacation Ownership
Debra leads the technical communication team at Wyndham Vacation Ownership. She was given the prohibitive task of corralling all the content that the company already had, which was all over the place. They have over 700 Sharepoint sites in IT alone. Debra worked with management to start a single source for documentation.
Debra’s Goals and Objectives
Debra had many requirements for her content tool. She needed
- A way to create professional looking documentation
- To be sure she wasn’t wasting time on the appearance of the documents (as you would in Word)
- One single place for the project managers to keep all of their documentation
- A tool that would help her team develop a strategy and allow them to easily and quickly search the content
- A way to show management the importance of documentation
- To eliminate the content silos
Moving from a Distributed Authoring Model
To solve these problems, she chose to move to a centralized authoring model.
Debra looked at RoboHelp, MapCap Flare, Author-it, etc. After considering all of her options, she chose Author-it. One of the biggest draws for her was Aspect, the publishing engine. Author-it has several pieces to their product. They have a component content management system. That system renders the content into a Knowledge Base type of format to dynamically present content. For example, you can set it up to only show specific information based on the user’s role (manager, CEO) or location (California, New York).
Debra and her team take the content written by engineers and enter it into their system. The team first checks to see what content already exists. If the content already exists, they get a pop-up showing them the current content and then they can add to or edit the existing content. They can publish to multiple formats from one place. They have several different outputs but the primary one is “Aspect,” which is the output used by their system. It is not in a book format. It’s a dynamic logic-based rendering.
The team can receive requests from users or be assigned to a project. Everything that they get or create they import into the tool. They don’t necessarily have to write it from scratch, the tool allows them to input the content. They can also link to SharePoint documents or external documents.
They have had major gains in the documentation that they create. It is already set up with styles so they don’t waste time working on that.
Debra showed us some Author-it sample content through the authoring version of the tool. We were really excited to see all the functionality and content management that Author-it provides.
We are very grateful to Debra for taking the time to demonstrate Author-it and explain her process for deciding on a tool. It was a great talk, and we all learned a lot.