Content Management Systems, I use those!

I like the definition of Content Management that Spilka provides in Chapter 5. Content Management is a set of practices for the handling of information, including how it is created, stored, retrieved, formatted and styled for delivery. It usually has the following four goals: Distribute tasks and responsibilities among members, Author and store content that enable multiple-audience adaptation, Author and store content to permit multiple output and Author and store content that allow for reuse by multiple organizations. Spilka also recommends creating CM as a separate discipline and teach to other technical communicators (Spilka, 2010, pgs 130-131). This definition really is what I do on a daily basis in my current position of QA Specialist, who is also responsible for the majority of customer educational resources for our Home Care product line.

Where I work currently, we use a few different content management systems, most of which were created by in-house staff for our use. The one that looks the most like this definition is our SIETE product. This is the product that we use to track the tasks being completed by the developers, that guide our release notes and user guides, as well as our Knowledge Base which houses the release notes, user guides and other customer-facing educational resources. I was not included in any of the design aspects of this product, it does work nicely for our customers.



The image above is an example of our customer facing portion of SIETE. This is accessed through the application and the content visible on the right-hand side is content specific based on the page the accessed the Help from. In addition, there are additional materials that the user may find useful based on this page. It would include FAQs, User Guide Pages and Videos that were created. This can be updated by our staff immediately if issus or corrections need to be made. This page really encompasses goals 2, 3, and 4. It allows for multiple audience adaptation, permit multiple outputs (html, videos) and reuse within and across organizations.

According to Chapter 4, we, as technical communicators, organize the written communication for future use (Spilka, 2010, pg 123). This SIETE product does assist with this. The search feature within the Customer Facing Knowledge Base will search content and tags that are added to each item. At this time tags need to be manually managed on each task, but helps with searching when the customer may not know the correct term. We can add additional terms that customer might use, even if it does not match the terminology that we use.

The image above shows that Goal 1 can also be used in our SIETE Application. There is a module called Project that has Projects, Outlines and Tasks. Each task can be assigned to a specific person and it can detail what needs to be done, when it should be done and what other assets are needed to complete the task. Often times I will spend a day or two reviewing the User Guide for changes that need to be made. Simple changes will be made immediately, but longer changes will get a task. Once all tasks are assigned I, or my supervisor, can set due dates, priorities and estimate the time to complete. As time allows, these are updated and immediately available for our customers.

Posted on October 27, 2013, in Uncategorized and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 10 Comments.

  1. Thanks for sharing your post. Your position as a QA Specialist sounds very interesting. The ideas in your post make me think that content management is a field that will continue growing; as hard copy filing systems are abandoned, businesses will seek out ways to store their documents electronically. An employee like you will definitely come in handy!

  2. evelynmartens13

    Hi Lisa:

    Thanks for the detailed look at what you do. Your description was very clear, and I was able to follow it nicely. So, it sounds like you’re doing work we would classify as “technical communication” but your title is Quality Assurance Specialist? That makes sense because you’re job is to assure the quality and consistency of communications, if I follow what you’ve been saying.

    Was/is it hard to move from one content managment system to another?

    • Good question here about job titles and descriptions.

      We are always telling our undergrads about the value of their degree and our 100% job placement rate within a year of graduation, but when the Career Fair has recruiters on campus they often don’t advertise for a technical communicator. They might need one, but call it something else. Sometimes they don’t even send recruiters for our major, which is doubly frustrating for college seniors, but knowing every workplace needs someone with skills in communication and technological literacy prevails!

    • In addition to the quality and consistency of communications, we are a software as a service company that does the “QA” on the product that I write the communication for. In other words, i make sure the product does what it is supposed to do based on the tasks created for the developers and once I know it works the way it is supposed to I maintain the quality of the communications,

      The good thing about the content management system I use is that they are within the same SIETE system, so the layout and look and feel are very similar so its easy for me to change between the two. We are looking at a new system for the customer facing information, so learning new software will be fun. (I like that kind of stuff).

  3. Great post connecting the readings to your workplace experience. Thanks for the images and links! Quick question, how would you say the Wikipedia definition of “content management” compares to Spilka’s?

    • One of the big differences I noticed between the Spilka definition and the Wikipedia definition is that Wikipedia does not include the creation of the materials. They start right with the storing, managing and publishing, but not creating of the materials.

      I think Spilka has a better definition and the definition that applies to my job as is stands right now.

  4. I like that you brought up the content management tool you use at your company for your customers. Do you find that customers use it? I don’t know if you have any insight to the amount of views or if customers reference it when calling support.

    • I don’t have access to the numbers myself, but I know the guys that do. I’m not sure how much our customers use this on their own, but I know as part of our support process that these items are mentioned and they are event assist with navigating to the specific items they need.

  5. I never would have thought QA and technical communications were tied together but after reading your post I realize they absolutely are. Thanks for the great real world description of how CM works in your company, and your job in particular.

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