If your organization spends a considerable amount producing content, then it is probably time to schedule a content spring cleaning. Starting 2018 with a clear vision and strategy will allow you to fully analyse and create a structured approach to ensure consistency and maximize asset use.
First take stock of your content and production protocol. Have you compiled and catalogued all available documentation? Are there pieces that require updates or improvements? Before creating new content, have you reviewed what is currently distributed and in use? Can you find production and distribution efficiencies to implement?
Do you produce content that is required by different departments or in different formats? Through the implementation of an organizational review, substantial savings could be found by repurposing content used in brochures, user guides, training material or repair manuals. Though the expense of a content management system may be outside the scope of your current needs, there are many ways you can repurpose material without one. Review your documentation practices, explore content repurposing efficiencies that could be applied, and determine when a content management system (CMS) investment would be needed. Centralizing the documentation process will significantly impact affect translation expenses as well.
Even though each department may have a separate translation budget, it does not mean that your company’s translation procedures should have a “silo” approach. Create a centralized method for the sharing and distribution of your company’s translation memory so that each department can access the benefits of already translated content. Even if you do not use the same translation provider for each project, ensuring consistency and maximizing reuse can be easily obtained through a centralized method of simple steps. If you have several translation memories from many different providers, taking the time to consolidate the memories and reviewing terms will result in time and cost savings for all departments. Style guides and controlled language are also two useful tools to review.
Creating style guides, approved glossaries and templates for all content creators will mean a consistent company message and easier implementation of reusable segments. Whether it is with your internal documentation team or a translation partner, having a documentation protocol is essential. Also discuss the company’s tone of voice, images and typography for your brands to safeguard consistent use across departments and through contracted and outsourced work.
When repurposing text, especially text concerned with safety, many implement a controlled language tool. This provides your content writers guidelines and a limited vocabulary to reduce the risk of ambiguity and clarifying text. For example, after a company-wide documentation review, you may find the same safety message written in many different ways. Limited approved options ensure a safer message and cost savings.
A Content Management System (CMS)’s purpose is to store, organize and repurpose your content. There are many options to explore which will make your content easier to search, organize and locate. The expense and learning curve of a CMS often keeps companies from investing but with an ever-expanding content library, it is important to evaluate pros and cons of different systems. Each company’s needs vary as well as the cost of each system.
If you are writing technical content, then a useful system is the Darwin Information Typing Architecture or Document Information Typing Architecture (DITA). DITA is an XML data model for authoring and publishing. DITA software allows content writers to write in segments. This means that they build up the content bit by bit, segment by segment. Each part of the text is separate, meaning editing and reusing text is seamless.
Typefi is a publishing platform that allows any XML based content and produces formats for online, mobile and print within minutes. It can be used by authors and editors as well as by your design team, so that, with a click of a mouse, both teams can view the design and content quickly. It is ideal for multiple language publications and it can save you a considerable amount of production time.
Despite the fact that there are many considerations, having clear documentation goals and taking a hard look at your current content production methods can help you streamline procedures to achieve more in less time. A spring cleaning is worth its weight in gold any time of year.
Terralingua is a professional ISO certified translation company specializing in localization and desktop publishing. We implement XML based solutions and work with content management systems for many global industry leaders. To find out more about our services, please visit our website for further information.