Tuesday, January 31, 2012

SharePoint - Content Types

One of biggest success stories of the last few years is the overwhelming adoption of Microsoft's collaboration and content management platform SharePoint. Because it is so popular and important, I thought that I would post series of topics about SharePoint. In my today's post, I am going to describe content types.

A content type is a group of settings that describe the shared behavior of a specific group of documents. Content types make it possible to organize and manage documents in a consistent way across a site. In the course of a single project, a company might produce several different kinds of content, for example SOPs, Work Instructions, White Papers, Articles. Although these documents might be stored together because they are related to a single project, they can be created, used, shared, and retained in different ways.

To define content types review your documents and divide them by categories: SOPs, Work Instructions, Specifications, White Papers, etc. Each document category would be a content type. You can also define content types by the requirements that each document category needs to have. For example, SOPs might be controlled documents and if so they would need to go through the approval workflow. It would be a good idea to define SOPs as the separate content type.

Content types are organized into a hierarchy that allows one content type to inherit its characteristics from another content type. This allows categories of documents to share attributes across an organization, while allowing teams to customize these attributes for particular libraries or lists.

Content types are first defined centrally in the site level for a site. Content types that are defined at the site level are called site content types. Site content types are available for use in any sub-sites, libraries, and lists of the site for which they have been created. If a content type has been created in a site collection level, it is available for use in lists and libraries in all of the sites in that site collection.

When you define a new custom site content type in the Site Content Type Gallery for a site, you start by choosing an existing parent site content type in the Site Content Type Gallery as your starting point. The new site content type that you create inherits all of the attributes of its parent site content type, such as its document template, workflows, and metadata. After you create this new site content type, you can make changes to any of these attributes.

Site content types can be added individually to lists or libraries and customized for use in those lists or libraries. When an instance of a site content type is added to a list or library, it is called a list or library content type. List and library content types are children of the site content types from which they were created.

If a child content type has been customized with additional attributes that the parent content type does not have (for example, extra columns), these customizations are not overwritten in the parent content type when the child content type is updated.

If you assign metadata, workflows, and policies to a site content type, all libraries will inherit this metadata, workflows, and policies.

When you create libraries, select the site content type for this library – metadata, workflows, policies, any other settings will apply to all libraries where you selected this content type.

If you need to change settings for many libraries, change it on the content type level. If you need to change settings for one library only, change it on the library level. You can customize any library, this will not affect the parent content type.

Below are few screenshots on how you create content types.

1st step: in the site settings, click on the Site Content Types under Galleries heading:
Click "Create" in the next screen:
Enter the metadata about your new content type:
Next screen shows your new content type. From this screen you can set up metadata for this content type, workflows, and change any other settings:
When you populate the metadata for an item in a list or a library, select your content type and metadata will be populated automatically:
Now you can have consistency in your documents!

Monday, January 30, 2012

Information Architecture Components – Organization Systems

Information architecture components can be divided into four categories:

Organization systems – how do we categorize information, for example by subject or date.

Labeling systems – how do we represent information, for example scientific or folk terminology.

Navigation Systems – how do we browse or move through information, for example clicking through a hierarchy.

Searching systems – how do we search information, for example executing a search query against an index.

In my today’s post, I am going to describe organization systems component of information architecture. Organization systems are composed of organization schemes and organization structures.

An organization scheme defines the shared characteristics of content items and influences the logical grouping of those items. An organization structure defines the types of relationships between content items and groups. Organization systems form the foundation for navigation and labeling systems.

Organization Schemes

There are exact and ambiguous organization schemes.

Exact organization schemes divide information into well defined and mutually exclusive sections. For example, alphabetical order of a phone book. If you know the person’s last name, you can look in that letter of the alphabetical list. This is called known-item searching. You know what you are looking for and it is obvious how to find it. The problem with exact organization schemes is that they require a user to know the specific name of the object they are looking for. Exact organization schemes are easy to design, maintain, and use.

Types of exact organization schemes include alphabetical, chronological, and geographical.

Ambiguous organization schemes divide information into categories that defy exact definition. They are difficult to design and maintain, and they can be difficult to use. Is tomato a vegetable or a fruit? However, they are often more important and useful than exact organization schemes. Why? Because users don’t always know what they are looking for. Information seeking is often iterative and interactive. What you find in the beginning of the search may influence what you look for and find later in your search.

Ambiguous organization supports the method or grouping items in meaningful ways. Therefore, while ambiguous organization schemes require more work, they often are more valuable to the user than exact schemes. The success of these schemes depends of the quality of the scheme and the placement of items within this scheme. User testing is very important for this type of scheme. There is ongoing need for classifying new items and for modifying the organization scheme to reflect changes in the scheme.

Types of ambiguous schemes include are topic or subject, task, audience, metaphor, hybrids.

Topical schemes organize content into subjects.

Task scheme organize content by processes, functions, or tasks. Most common example of web sites using this scheme is e-commerce sites where a user interaction is centered on tasks, for example buy, sell, pay, etc.

Audience oriented schemes are useful for sites that are frequented by repeat visitors of a certain audience. For example, Dell web site separates its content into "Home" and "Business". Audience schemes can be open or closed. An open scheme would allow users of one audience to access content or another audience. A closed scheme would prevent users from using content of another audience.

Metaphor schemes use association with known subjects. They should be used with caution. They must be familiar to users.

Hybrids combine elements of multiple schemes.

Organization Structures

The structure of information defines the ways in which users can navigate. Major structures are hierarchy, the database-oriented model, and hypertext.

The foundation of almost all good information architecture is a well designed hierarchy or taxonomy. In creating a taxonomy, it is important to not make categories mutually exclusive. You need to balance between exclusivity and inclusivity. Sometimes an item may belong in more than one place. It is also important to balance between breadth and depth in the taxonomy. Breadth refers to the number of options at each level of the hierarchy. Depth refers to the number of levels in the hierarchy.

If a hierarchy is too narrow and deep, users have to click through a lot of levels to find what they are looking for. If a hierarchy is too broad and shallow, users are presented with too many options on the main menu and the lack of content once they get to the option level.

Consider the following: recognize the danger of overloading users with too many options; group and structure information on the page level; subject the design to user testing. For new web sites, lean towards a broad and shallow hierarchy. This allows the addition of content. Be conservative in adding more depth as you need to prevent uses to make too many clicks.

In a database-oriented model we structure the data using metadata. Metadata links the information architecture to the design of database schema. By tagging information with metadata, we enable searching and browsing.

A hypertext system involves two primary types of components to be linked. These components can from systems that connect text, data, image, video, and audio. This structure provides flexibility but also causes users confusion because hypertextual links are often personal by nature. This structure is good to use to compliment the hierarchical or database models.

It is very important to provide multiple ways to access the same information. Large web sites would require all three types of structure. The top level will be hierarchical, sub-sites are good candidates for database model, and less structured relationships between content can be handled by hypertext.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Content Management Systems Reviews - Oracle UCM

Oracle Universal Content Management (UCM), formerly Stellent, is a component CMS and supports the entire content lifecycle. Component CMS manages content at a component level rather than at the document level.

Oracle UCM manages the entire spectrum of unstructured content - from documents, graphics, and Web pages to scanned images, e-mail, and records.

Oracle UCM converts over 500 file formats to web-ready formats such as HTML, XML, GIF and PDF, and delivers content via web sites, desktops, syndication feeds, mobile devices, and web services.

It integrates with Microsoft Office, Outlook, AutoCAD, Lotus Notes. It includes multi-site web content management, document and image management, digital asset management, records and retention management, personalized content delivery, categorization, portal integration, SharePoint integration, document capture and scanning integration, content conversion and transformation.

Unified CMS offers the same set of common functionality in one product for all content types. This eliminates the requirement for integrations between various ECM components. All managed content and services can be accessed from a common user and administrator interface. Features included are search, security, workflow, revision control, content conversion for all types of content, web based authoring and version control.

It includes the following key features: 

  • in-context web site contribution, preview, updates, and approvals;
  • e-mail notifications during workflows;
  • library services, including full-text search, check-in, check-out, and version control;
  • flexible metadata and security;
  • template-based pages;
  • libraries of reusable components and XML-based fragments;
  • native content conversion to web viewable formats, including HTML, XML, and PDF;
  • dynamic delivery and scheduled publishing models;
  • personalized content delivery;
  • scheduled content release and expiration;
  • full digital asset and records management features.

Consolidating the overall architecture on a single code base, security model, and API eliminates the need for integration, leverages a common IT infrastructure, minimizes application development and support costs, enables simple upgrades, maintenance, and training.

Although each type of content requires some unique functionality, such as file plan management or warehouse management for digital and physical records, robust transformation for video files or for digital assets (such as taking Adobe Photoshop files and transforming them to different formats, resolutions, and sizes), and WYSIWYG editors, layouts, and templates, or dynamic and static publishing models for web sites, these independent content management systems all share a common set of services and functionality.

Any of the content management features can be enabled or disabled within the Oracle WebCenter Content platform. The same content publishing capabilities used to build web sites also work with digital asset management, so the customer’s images and videos can be transformed and added to the site. The same document management system also works with records management.

Benefits of a Single Platform

  • Users can create content in Microsoft Word, Visio, or Adobe Photoshop. Whether they are adding content to a web site or collaborating on a presentation, the functions they need stay constant and that is the ability to find content easily, collaborate efficiently, securely store and transform content from one form to another, and deploy it wherever it is needed.
  • A unified architecture offers graphical user interfaces with a common look and feel.
  • Ease-of-use, because document and imaging management, digital asset management, web content management, and records management functions are on the same web interface.
  • Higher productivity because users can perform all content related functions in one place.
  • Consolidating the overall architecture on a single code base, security model, and API eliminates integration, leverages a common IT infrastructure, and minimizes application development and support costs.
  • Dramatically reduced implementation and setup time compared with rolling out separate or integrated systems.
  • Simpler upgrades because all updates occur on a single platform.
  • The unified architecture of Oracle WebCenter Content ensures all ECM applications can be deployed on the same platform, and specific content management capabilities are interchangeable, extensible, and complementary to each other.
  • Oracle WebCenter Content’s unified architecture ensures all ECM applications can be deployed on the same platform, and specific content management capabilities are interchangeable, extensible, and complementary to each other. This single architecture approach allows users to access all content, applications, and content services from a common user interface.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Case Study – Immersion Corporation - SharePoint Deployment

In the "Case Studies" series of my posts, I will describe the projects that I worked on and lessons learned from them. In this post, I am going to describe the project of SharePoint deployment in the Immersion Corporation.

Immersion Corporation is an electronics company specializing in haptics. The company’s content was stored in multiple shared network drives, wiki systems, CVS systems, and personal computers. In addition, documents in hard format are being used because they are not available in electronic format. There is no unified place for storing and accessing content.

Spreading out content in multiple locations made it difficult to find, re-use, and update. This also discouraged further adding of the new content and thus created areas where no documentation existed and the knowledge instead of being shared was being stored in personal computers. Storing the content in personal computers presented a risk of it being lost because it was not backed-up.

Existing content storage systems did not meet users’ requirements. The existing content was not categorized optimally and therefore the browsing function was inefficient. There was no search mechanism to search shared network drives.

Wiki and CVS systems search function was ineffective because of either wrong metadata or its lack. All current content storage systems did not have version control and audit trails necessary to control documents changes. There were no workflows in these systems. It was not possible to set up optimal security permissions in these systems.

There was a lot of obsolete content because no content owners have been formally identified and no retention schedule has been set up. In addition current storage systems did not have functions that would flag the obsolete content.

Collaborative work on the documents and projects was accomplished by sending documents as an email attachment which was inefficient and time consuming. There were no functions for project management.

I performed the users study. I identified stakeholders within each Immersion team and created the questionnaire for collecting teams’ requirements for a content management system and the usability issues. I held meetings with all teams’ stakeholders, managers and individual contributors. In some cases, I held few meetings were with one team.

Since Immersion used Agile software for the document control purpose, CRM for its customers management, Oracle system for financial operations, I also held meetings with Agile and CRM stakeholders and users. During these meetings I asked team members about their existing methods of finding the information and collaborating on documents and projects.

All users unanimously stated that:
  • the information was spread out among few places and that it should be in one place; 
  • it was very difficult and took a long time to find the information; 
  • users had to ask somebody where the information was if they could not find it; if this somebody was not available, they would either try to re-create the information or would give up and try to work without the information; 
  • it would have been very helpful and made their job easier to have a content management system to manage documents and records and collaborate on projects and documents; 
  • the system for managing documents should have optimal browse and search functions, version control, audit trails, workflows, and optimal security permissions; 
  • content should be organized and consistent in its structure; 
  • the system should have high-relevance search; obsolete documents are present and are not being updated and there are areas where no documents exist; 
  • the content management system should be administered by a content manager to oversee the quality of the content and metadata, the content organization, and the system content functions.
Since the company has already acquired SharePoint, during these meetings I gave teams an overview of SharePoint features and benefits and the overview of SharePoint itself. I asked teams if they would use the system. Each team expressed an interest in using SharePoint as the tool for document management, records management, project management, collaboration, and business solutions. All teams agreed that SharePoint would make them more efficient and productive.

A representative within each team was identified to be the primary contact between their team and myself, and for the purpose of getting the feedback from their teams, collecting teams’ requirements, and determining usability issues. The questionnaire for collecting teams’ requirements for SharePoint and the usability study was distributed to teams. Responses to the questionnaire were submitted to me which along with meetings findings served as the base for the functional requirements for the CMS deployment.

Since teams expressed interest in using SharePoint, I recommended to the management to proceed with its deployment. The project was approved. I created functional requirements which were submitted to IT. I have reviewed the document with the IT staff so that we would be in agreement about functional requirements and users’ needs.

IT staff has brought in a SharePoint architect to help to install SharePoint hardware and the architecture. SharePoint was installed. After it was installed, Immersion IT and I started working on setting up information architecture, taxonomy, metadata, content functions, and search.

Based on stakeholders’ feedback, I defined and created the information architecture, taxonomy, metadata, and content types. A decision was made on how SharePoint would integrate with Agile software, Oracle system, CRM, etc. as well on defining document types that would be uploaded into each system.

Then I created sites, libraries, and lists. Metadata, workflows, and information management policies were set up for each content type. I have created advanced search and configured metadata for it. IT has configured the metadata and the crawler on the server level. IT has also set up all applications functions on the server.

Document owners for each document were identified and entered into metadata. Retention schedule was identified for each content type and three-state workflow was set up to flag the content that would reach an expiration date.

Upon the reaching the expiration date of a document, a document owner and me would get an email-alert from the system that this has reached an expiration date. This alert would allow the content administrator, in this case me, to contact the document owner for the decision on what should be done with this document: review and update, move to an archive, or delete.

Based on department managers’ decision, security permissions for documents were set up. The system was set up for content approval before it is published which provided assurance that documents are uploaded in the correct place and the correct metadata is populated. I was approving content before it was published. Procedures for information governance were defined and supported by the company management.

User acceptance testing of the system was performed. Users were satisfied with the system set up and functions and it was deployed. Information governance was set up from the very beginning. Group and individual training was conducted on ongoing basis.

After the SharePoint was deployed, users started uploading their documents into it. The plan was created for migrating content from network drives and other systems into SharePoint.

The project was a success. Company management and users were very cooperative in helping to make this project a success.

SharePoint deployment helped to increase efficiency and productivity and thus saved Immersion cost because employees did not waste any time on searching for documents or recreating documents that already exist. The system later was adapted by multiple users for multiple purposes.

Lessons learned
  1. User-centered design is paramount to the project success. When you design and build the system based on users’ requirements, they are going to use it. Users have the sense of ownership of the system which provides excellent starting point. They know that the system you are building will be what they need. 
  2. Top-down support is critical for the project success. Management support is a huge factor in employees' encouragement to use the system and in setting up and enforcing procedures for information governance. 
  3. Assurance of users from the very beginning that they will not be left alone with the system provided their cooperation. 
  4. User acceptance testing helped to encourage employees to start using the system. When they participate in this process, this gives them the feeling of ownership of the system. 
  5. Ongoing training after the system deployment made user adoption smooth.

Monday, January 23, 2012

User Adoption Strategies

Here is the situation. Your documents are stored on your network drives and you are contemplating to implement a content management initiative. At the same time you have an apprehension about how your users will adopt to your content management system (CMS).

Well, your apprehension is very much valid. User adoption task is not to be taken lightly. So, what do you do?

Good news is that it is possible to have your users to adopt to your content management systems. What are the strategies do accomplish user adoption? Let's look at them.

1. Point out benefits and usefulness – how it is better than what a user is doing now before you even started working on your deployment. This would create a good start to your project. It would prepare your users that the change is coming. The change is difficult to accept and so the earlier you start preparing for it, the easier it will be for you to implement it.

2. Collect user requirements and create use cases. Select your system and deploy it based on these requirements and use cases. I preach user-centered design. User-centered design is a cornerstone of user adoption. Never underestimate user-centered design. You deploy the system for users, make it they way they need it as much as possible.

3. Provide assurance of training and assistance from the beginning of your project. Let your users have confidence in you from the very beginning that they are not going to be left alone when the system is in place.

4. Make everything very easy and very intuitive.

5. User acceptance testing is paramount to user adoption.

6. Provide training early on.

7. Provide documentation describing in detail how the system works, what are the new procedures, etc.

8. Demonstrate that it is easy and consistent with what the user already knows or already does.

9. Let the user try it in safe, verifiable increments. Do not ask the user to make immediate switch from his accustomed way of work to your new system. Do it gradually.

10. Accept that user adoption is not a single event or decision on the part of a user. It happens in phases, which are affected by the frequency of product use. Use progressive user adoption strategy.

11. A progressive user adoption strategy consciously moves a user to new levels of product acceptance over time, through an orchestrated sequence of exposures to the product’s functionality.

The overall strategy for progressive user adoption starts with the solid foundation of a satisfying user experience of a product’s core functionality, then builds a logical progression from that base by identifying moments of opportunity and appropriate interventions.

12. Consider the following steps.

Identify core functionality. Core functionality is the basic functionality that, if not achieved, will guarantee the user will reject the product.

Make the core functionality bulletproof from a usability perspective. From a product design perspective, initially, the main goal should be to optimize the user experience that touches the core functionality.

The unspoken rule here is this: "Don’t break the core functionality as you add features". Promoting or adding advanced features can also add real or perceived complexity, disrupt compatibility with users’ established routines, and increase a sense of risk. All three of these consequences can stop adoption.

Identify sequences that go from core functions to advanced functions. Identify the next layers of features and functionality that could represent logical steps for users to take over time, once they have increased familiarity with the product.

Construct product interventions to move users to advanced functionality. An important goal of this step is to identify moments of opportunity that indicate readiness on a user’s part to advance to a new level of functionality. You must make it easy for a user to ignore the intervention.

What is of tantamount importance is that the intervention not be overly intrusive, impacting the core functionality. By all means, make it noticeable but don’t force users to change their habitual task flows in order to reject the option or suggestion. Not disrupting the core user experience is a key requirement for those interventions.

I will give you two examples of a progressive adoption strategy.

Banking industry has created online banking and invited us to use it. It was very much optional. Then they said that we can choose between paper statements and electronic statements. And then they said that there will be no more paper statements any longer and that we must go online to see our statements. So, the online banking has now become mandatory.

Similar example can be used in content management. When you have a CMS in place, announce to your users that they can choose where they can store their documents - either on network drives or in your CMS. But point out benefits of your CMS as compared to network drives. In your next step, announce to your users that certain types of documents must now be stored in your CMS. Provide continuous training and one-to-one assistance if necessary.

In the following step, announce to them that you are closing network drives and that all documents must now be stored in your CMS. After they got used to basic documents uploading into your CMS, you can introduce other features of your CMS, like Wikis, blogs, personalized sites, etc.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Do You Really Need a Content Strategy?

The answer is Yes.

You have many discussions about content activities, methodologies, and deliverables. But if you don’t have a conceptual framework for those activities, you are not practicing content strategy.

It is impossible to design a great user experience for bad content. If you are passionate about creating better user experiences, you can't help but care about delivering useful, usable, engaging content.

Content strategy is not a single solution or deliverable. It is a process and a mindset. If you approach your content management initiative knowing that it will constantly evolve, and that you are guiding its evolution, then you are practicing content strategy.

Content strategy evaluates business and customer needs and provides strategic direction on how improved content and content processes can help to achieve specific objectives. It’s a continual process of improvement.

Content strategy requires more time and resources upfront, but your content management initiative is much more likely to succeed with a solid strategy supporting it. Content strategy activities are scalable and can be modified to fit any budget. You don’t necessarily need a large, formal content strategy. You just need to take the time to think things through and determine your goals, resourcing, workflow, and success metrics, which can save you from the high cost of ineffective content.

You can’t expect to get where you want to go if you don’t know where that is, what you need to do to get there, or how to even recognize it if you stumble across it.

Content strategy starts with the big picture and then drills down to a granular level that can be implemented and measured. It encompasses everything that impacts content, including workflow and governance.

The content-strategy process is not so much circular as it is spiral, starting at the big vision and then repeating at each stage as you drill down to more details. To make matters worse (or more fun!), content strategies, tactics, processes, and even specific pieces of content are often shared between projects, products and business units.

A good content strategy looks across organizational silos and integrates the different business needs, goals, and tactics. It makes sure that the end product promotes consistent, effective and efficient user experiences and business processes.

Reasons for developing a content strategy:

1. Better Content

Developing a content strategy will enable you to create content that will be more engaging. A content strategy will allow you to clearly identify the elements that will add more value and create more interesting experiences for your users over time.

2. Consistency in Messaging

This is traditionally done within a marketing strategy, but the problem is that content extends beyond the marketing department. Within a content strategy you can outline guidelines,standards, quality control processes, branding, voice tone and messaging, so that anyone creating content of any format has some rules for the road.

3. Optimization

A content strategy will help you optimize your content. When developing content, it is critical to identify user personas, and create individual content paths for each of them (all fitting into one content strategy). Since each has their own questions, concerns and interests, you’ll need to develop content around these specific characteristics. By doing so, you will optimize for search by using the right keywords, and your content will be more relevant to those searching for it. The reason you need to consider this within your entire content strategy is because your content lives in various locations; your website, social networks, press, etc.

4. Limitation of Friction

A content strategy will help you to avoid friction in your content management system. You want to facilitate an engaging environment, so if there are disconnects between your information architecture or formats, you will create discomfort and stress for your users. You want to make sure their experience is easy. This ease will come from clearly defined goals, research, content paths, content processes, and the tactics that have been identified by the content strategy. This will also ensure that everyone responsible for content creation is on the same page, even if they are not on the same team or in the same department.

5. Improve efficiency

There are many ways to re-use content, like posting a blog post into a web site or a series of documents, or maybe an ebook. The idea is that you repurpose content to be consumed in various way, so you can always reach who you want while staying relevant and adding value. A content strategy outlines the thematic content and how it can be used throughout the year so you are not constantly trying to reinvent the wheel. It will help you organize an inventory and plan for releasing various kinds of content throughout the year, as well as streamline the internal processes needed to achieve the content goals.

Things to think about when developing your strategy:

There are many elements you will need to consider. You will need to know what content you have, what content you will need, who your users are, how they like to consume information, and who will be responsible for what. All of these things will be important in developing a realistic strategy for your content.

Here is a brief list of questions to ask:

  • What content do we have? 
  • Who are the content sources? 
  • What does the current content creation process look like? 
  • What are the content channels? External web: website, social media, partner sites, email, webinars. Internal: intranets, wikis, training sessions, seminars. Traditional: PR, print, events, outdoor, direct mail. The reasoning behind a content strategy is to make informed recommendations about the creation, delivery and governance of content. 
 Your content strategy should outline the following:

  • current content and what you will need;
  • how content should be structured in various formats Long-term plan–starting point and ending point What will this mean in terms of business objectives?

With the current proliferation of social media, and web based tools, including your web site, it is very important to have a content strategy. It is important that everyone is on the same page. This is difficult for most companies, but the development of a strategy and plan will only help things run smoothly, and actually have the business impact you are looking to achieve.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Content Management Systems Reviews - TeamSite

In my previous posts, I described component content management. A component content management system (CCMS) is used for managing component content.

A component content management system (CCMS) is a content management system that manages content at a granular or component level rather than at the document level. There are few of them in today's market including Interwoven, Documentum, AuthorIT, DocZone, Vasont, SiberLogic, Trisoft, Astoria, Tridion. In this my post, I am going to describe Interwoven.

This system is made by Interwoven company which was purchased by Autonomy which in turn was purchased by HP. Autonomy TeamSite is a market-leading content management system for content authoring, site design and layout, content targeting, advanced analytics, workflows, and archiving.

Interwoven TeamSite® is the industry’s most advanced Web Content Management System. For enterprises, TeamSite powers corporate and ecommerce web sites, employee intranets, support portals, marketing microsites, and extranets as well as e-mail, wireless, and print.

Product Architecture

TeamSite is built on a high-performance repository that stores and manages all asset types, including file-system content, database content, XML, digital and brand assets, media files, documents, and application code.

TeamSite supports multi-channel content strategy. By exposing and re-purposing content across multiple customer, partner, and employee touchpoints, companies get more value from their investments in content development and deliver more consistent messages.


TeamSite provides a set of application services to manage content and automate business processes, including:

  • flexible, easy to manage workflows for automating critical business processes; 
  • library services for creating, browsing, searching, transforming, and viewing assets; 
  • parallel development support; 
  • templating capabilities; 
  • version control, access control, and search services; 
  • metadata management services; 
  • archival services; 
  • multi-stage deployment and provisioning; 
  • taxonomy and navigation management.

Multi-site management and archiving

TeamSite has branching and collaborative development model. This approach enables organizations to manage multiple sites —corporate sites, micro-sites,intranets, extranets, support sites, portal, or multi-channel publishing initiatives — all from the same infrastructure. TeamSite maintains archived copies of individual assets, as well as snapshots of whole sites, so users can compare, track, or roll back individual assets or applications, site sections, whole Websites or documents.

Parallel, collaborative content development

TeamSite’s extensive parallel development capabilities are ideal for companies who require frequent changes to multiple sites, want to retain control, and deliver high quality experiences. With parallel development, separate teams can work independently on different projects without additional software or hardware costs. Collaboration capabilities allow users to simultaneously make changes to content, data, and code—on the same site. Users visually review and merge changes, then test the entire Website as if it were live.

Administration and security

TeamSite has robust security with granular permission management. Sophisticated roles and rules features make it easy for non-technical business users to manage multiple initiatives and sites within specific, predefined boundaries. Using TeamSite to delegate administration and contribution reduces demand for resources and enables companies to get accurate, relevant content to the web faster.


Designed for all types of users, TeamSite provides the industry’s most intuitive, simple, and customizable user experience. The platform is easy enough to use for business professionals and other non-technical content contributors, yet powerful enough for project managers, site designers, developers, and administrators.

TeamSite includes:

ContentCenter Standard — a clear, easy portal-like interface with wizard-driven, point-and-click content contribution features for non-technical business users; interacts with business content, workflows, and forms.

ContentCenter Professional — an advanced interface for power users, project managers, and administrators, who can perform the most advanced content management with just a few clicks. Project managers can quickly and easily track and manage the content publishing lifecycle. Administrators can take advantage of in-context administrative functions to set up environments and monitor content contribution.

FormsPublisher — provides for structured, form-based content authoring by nontechnical business users. FormsPublisher is most often used by common or frequent content contributors as an interface for authoring such content types as press releases, announcements, or events as well as content that is likely to be repurposed across multiple channels (such as Web, wireless, and print) and/or multiple sites.

SitePublisher — a WYSIWYG content contribution interface with a reusable component based architecture enables powerful drag-and-drop assembly for efficient page management as well as in-context editing for point and click page editing. “Smart” templates, out-ofthe-box site functionality, and point and click navigation management also help organizations quickly create dynamic web sites, and then easily customize their presentation, content, and functionality to meet changing business needs.

Point-and-click customization

By easily making customizations directly on the page, with point-and-click simplicity, page owners can quickly modify content and its look and feel to fit changing business requirements.

In-context review and edit

Authorized team members can easily modify content in the context of any Web page they are browsing—without having to go to a separate content management interface.

Portal Integration

Interwoven includes connectors for leading enterprise portal applications including SAP, BEA, and IBM. The connectors are designed to deliver content, code, and metadata to portal repositories and enable business users to manage content directly from within the portal interface. Customers can also integrate TeamSite with leading enterprise applications software from vendors, including Siebel, Peoplesoft, and Oracle.

Platform extensions

TeamSite platform extensions ensure seamless integration across the enterprise. TeamSite is fully compatible with all is fully compatible with all Interwoven Web solutions, including:

Interwoven LiveSite - a content delivery engine, provides delivery of dynamic, targeted, and interactive.

Interwoven ReportCenter - allows site administrators to track and report all content management and publishing activities.

Interwoven Content Transformation Services - allow business users to automatically transform documents into PDFs and HTML—prior to publishing.

Interwoven MediaBin Digital Asset Management Server - for rich media asset management.

Interwoven WorkSite Collaborative Document Management Server - for document security, storage, collaboration, and retention.

Interwoven MetaTagger - content intelligence services for automated metadata extraction and recommendation.

Interwoven OpenDeploy - content distribution and publishing services - for multi-stage content and code provisioning.

Key Features

Key Feature

Advanced information
Provides extensive search services so people find content quickly; associates content with editing, testing, reuse, auditing, and publication processes.
Reusable component
based architecture
Enables rapid site rollout with reuse of content and site functionality for creating and managing Web pages and entire sites without additional coding.
Drag-and-drop layout
Layout sites, templates, and pages by dropping components onto pages, dragging them into place, and making powerful customizations with a point and click interface.
Navigation management
Inheritable templates
Easily manage site navigation through a drag and drop, point and click interface
Metadata management
Sophisticated templates automatically distribute updates and permissions across sites
Visual annotate
Supports easy commenting and page mark-up directly from browser
Visual publish
Empowers content contributors to access and edit content directly from within Web browser
E-mail interface
Supports in-line, actionable content management tasks such as approve, edit, tag, and preview, directly from Microsoft Outlook
Front Office
Enables content authoring, submission, and publishing directly from Microsoft Office
User Interface (UI)
Fully internationalization and localization of administrative UI for English, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Spanish, Traditional and Simplified Chinese—all from a single instance
Optimized workflow—
with an easy, drag-and drop
visual modeler
Extends a combination of flexible, rigid, or fully-customized creation, review, notification, and publishing processes, supporting quality controls and business process automation
of multiple online and offline initiatives
XML object store
Manages XML content and varying object models for element-level collaboration, reuse, management, version control, and search
Security access control
Provides configurable asset locking model with SSL/LDAP, Microsoft Active Directory, and CA SiteMinder® support, and native operating system file and directory permissions support
Central control and
delegated administration
Allows centralized control of the entire platform with flexible groups and roles-based delegated administration
Granular permissions
Simplifies control of activation, restriction and access rights for any role or user, with each function, folder, or asset within the system

Monday, January 16, 2012

Component Content Management

In my last post, I described how DITA is used in dynamic content management. I will continue the subject of dynamic content management in this post.

DITA was conceived as a model for improving reuse through topic-oriented modularization of content. Instead of creating new content or copying and pasting information which may or may not be current and authoritative, organizations manage a repository of content assets – or DITA topics – that can be centrally managed, maintained and reused across the enterprise. This helps to accelerate the creation and maintenance of documents and other deliverables and to ensure the quality and consistency of the content organizations publish.

Dynamic content management is also called component content management. It is also called single source publishing. DITA is its foundation. A component content management system (CCMS) is used for managing component content. A component content management system (CCMS) is a content management system that manages content at a granular or component level rather than at the document level. Examples of such systems are Interwoven, Documentum, AuthorIT, DocZone, Vasont, SiberLogic, Trisoft, Astoria, Tridion.

What exactly is a component? Each component represents a single topic, concept or asset (e.g., image, table, product description). Components can be as large as a chapter or as small as a definition or even a word. Components in multiple content assemblies can be viewed as components or as traditional documents. Reuse allows the core component to be edited and maintained in one place, and then be assembled into thousands of documents where it is needed.

Each component is only stored one time in the content management system, providing a single, trusted source of content. These components are then reused (rather than copied and pasted) within a document or across multiple documents. This ensures that content is consistent across the entire documentation set. Each component has its own lifecycle (owner, version, approval, use) and can be tracked individually or as part of an assembly.

Component Content Management can be regarded as an overall process for originating, managing, and publishing content right across the enterprise and to any output.

Component content management provides significant benefits and cost savings over traditional document authoring and maintenance methods. Some of these are:

  • greater consistency and accuracy;
  • reduced maintenance costs;
  • reduced delivery costs;
  • reduced translation costs.

And more specifically:

  • Faster time to market because authors spend far less time creating and recreating the same content, reviewers spend less time reviewing, translators spend less time translating. Publishing to print, Help, and Web formats is fully automated. This is achieved by controlling standards, eliminating duplication, and effectively managing creation, localization, and publishing of content.
  • Efficient use of resources by eliminating repetitive creation and maintenance, more of your resources can be devoted to improving the quality of the content and adding value to your documentation.
  • Slashed translation costs: content is translated only once no matter how often it is reused. Translators only ever work on new or changed source content, so you don’t pay for them to handle unchanged text. Real projects have shown reductions in translation word count in excess of 30%.
  • Improved quality and usability of content: through easy definition and enforcement of standards you can guarantee consistent documentation structure and formatting, increasing readability and usability. Using single-source content ensures 100% consistency wherever it appears.
  • Improved workplace satisfaction: free authors from tedious, time-consuming tasks such as formatting and repetitive updates, so they can concentrate on creating and improving content. Reviewers gain by reviewing content only once, regardless of the number of end deliverables. Writers save 95% of the time they usually spend formatting content.
  • Increased customer satisfaction: consistent, accurate documentation of all types means fewer calls to customer support, because you are providing the right information, at the right time, in the right format.

Generating content takes time and money. As such, content should be treated as the valuable business asset that it is. To get maximum value from your content, you should be able to do a number of things:

  • You should be able to re-use content across documents without copying, so that you can write it once, and maintain it in a single place no matter how many times you have used it.
  • You should be able to use content created for one purpose equally well in other contexts and for other purposes.
  • You should be able to translate re-used content once and have it automatically reflected anywhere it is used.
  • You should be able to publish to print, help, and web outputs without having to modify or make different versions of your content.

These measures provide the potential for increasing the quality and consistency of your documentation, for reducing the cost and time involved in producing it, and for gaining more value from every piece of content that you create.

In my future posts, I will describe component content management systems.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

DITA and Dynamic Content Management

In my previous post on DITA, I mentioned that DITA, Darwin Information Typing Architecture, is an XML-based architecture for authoring, producing, and delivering information. In this post, I am going to describe more details about DITA and how it is used in content management.

At the heart of DITA, representing the generic building block of a topic-oriented information architecture, is an XML document type definition (DTD) called the topic DTD. The point of the XML-based Darwin Information Typing Architecture (DITA) is to create modular technical documents that are easy to reuse with varied display and delivery mechanisms.

Main features of the DITA architecture

As the "Architecture" part of DITA's name suggests, DITA has unifying features that serve to organize and integrate information:

Topic orientation. The highest standard structure in DITA is the topic. Any higher structure than a topic is usually part of the processing context for a topic, such as a print-organizing structure or the navigation for a set of topics.

Reuse. A principal goal for DITA has been to reduce the practice of copying content from one place to another as a way of reusing content. Reuse within DITA occurs on two levels:

Topic reuse. Because of the non-nesting structure of topics, a topic can be reused in any topic-like context.

Content reuse. DITA provides each element with a conref attribute that can point to any other equivalent element in the same or any other topic.

Specialization. Any DITA element can be extended into a new element.

Topic specialization. Applied to topic structures, specialization is a natural way to extend the generic topic into new information types (or infotypes), which in turn can be extended into more specific instantiations of information structures. For example, a recipe, a material safety data sheet, and an encyclopedia article are all potential derivations from a common reference topic.

Domain specialization. Using the same specialization principle, the element vocabulary within a generic topic can be extended by introducing elements that reflect a particular information domain served by those topics. For example, a keyword can be extended as a unit of weight in a recipe, as a part name in a hardware reference, or as a variable in a programming reference.

Property-based processing. The DITA model provides metadata and attributes that can be used to associate or filter the content of DITA topics with applications such as content management systems, search engines, etc.

Extensive metadata to make topics easier to find. The DITA model for metadata supports the standard categories for the Dublin Core Metadata Initiative. In addition, the DITA metadata enables many different content management approaches to be applied to its content.

Universal properties. Most elements in the topic DTD contain a set of universal attributes that enable the elements to be used as selectors, filters, content referencing infrastructure, and multi-language support.

Taking advantage of existing tags and tools. Rather than being a radical departure from the familiar, DITA builds on well-accepted sets of tags and can be used with standard XML tools.

Leveraging popular language subsets. The core elements in DITA's topic DTD borrow from HTML and XHTML, using familiar element names like p, ol, ul, and dl within an HTML-like topic structure. In fact, DITA topics can be written, like HTML for rendering directly in a browser.

Leveraging popular and well-supported tools. The XML processing model is widely supported by a number of vendors and translates well to the design features of the XSLT and CSS stylesheet languages defined by the World Wide Web Consortium and supported in many transformation tools, editors, and browsers.

Typed topics are easily managed within content management systems as reusable, stand-alone units of information. For example, selected topics can be gathered, arranged, and processed within a delivery context to provide a variety of deliverables to varied audiences. These deliverables might be a booklet, a web site, a specification, etc.

At the center of these content management systems are fundamental XML technologies for creating modular content, managing it as discrete chunks, and publishing it in an organized fashion. These are the basic technologies for "one source, one output" applications, sometimes referred to as Singe Source Publishing (SSP) systems.

The innermost ring contains capabilities that are needed even when using a dedicated word processor or layout tool, including editing, rendering, and some limited content storage capabilities. In the middle ring are the technologies that enable single-sourcing content components for reuse in multiple outputs. They include a more robust content management environment, often with workflow management tools, as well as multi-channel formatting and delivery capabilities and structured editing tools. The outermost ring includes the technologies for smart content applications.

It is good to note that smart content solutions rely on structured editing, component management, and multi-channel delivery as foundational capabilities, augmented with content enrichment, topic component assembly, and social publishing capabilities across a distributed network.

Content Enrichment/Metadata Management: Once a descriptive metadata taxonomy is created or adopted, its use for content enrichment will depend on tools for analyzing and/or applying the metadata. These can be manual dialogs, automated scripts and crawlers, or a combination of approaches. Automated scripts can be created to interrogate the content to determine what it is about and to extract key information for use as metadata. Automated tools are efficient and scalable, but generally do not apply metadata with the same accuracy as manual processes. Manual processes, while ensuring better enrichment, are labor intensive and not scalable for large volumes of content. A combination of manual and automated processes and tools is the most likely approach in a smart content environment. Taxonomies may be extensible over time and can require administrative tools for editorial control and term management.

Component Discovery/Assembly: Once data has been enriched, tools for searching and selecting content based on the enrichment criteria will enable more precise discovery and access. Search mechanisms can use metadata to improve search results compared to full text searching. Information architects and content managers can use search to discover what content exists, and what still needs to be developed to proactively manage and monitor the content. These same discovery and search capabilities can be used to automatically create delivery maps and dynamically assemble content organized using them.

Distributed Collaboration/Social Publishing: Componentized information lends itself to a more granular update and maintenance process, enabling several users to simultaneously access topics that may appear in a single deliverable form to reduce schedules. Subject matter experts, both remote and local, may be included in review and content creation processes at key steps. Users of the information may want to "self-organize" the content of greatest interest to them, and even augment or comment upon specific topics. A distributed social publishing capability will enable a broader range of contributors to participate in the creation, review and updating of content in new ways.

Federated Content Management/Access: Smart content solutions can integrate content without duplicating it in multiple places, rather accessing it across the network in the original storage repository. This federated content approach requires the repositories to have integration capabilities to access content stored in other systems, platforms, and environments. A federated system architecture will rely on interoperability standards (such as CMIS), system agnostic expressions of data models (such as XML Schemas), and a robust network infrastructure (such as the Internet).

These capabilities address a broader range of business activity and therefore fulfill more business requirements than single-source content solutions. Assessing your ability to implement these capabilities is essential in evaluating your organizations readiness for a smart content solution.