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March 21, 2022

Top three signs you’ve outgrown your content tool

Is your content tool making you miserable? 

If you are doing a lot of workarounds and manual labor to address your content requirements, you’ve probably outgrown your content tool and need to move on to greener (and more efficient) pastures. 

Here are the top three signs you’ve outgrown your content tool:

1. It supports your content just fine—until a new requirement pops up. Your content must evolve with ever-changing business requirements. For example, you need to create content variants because customers demand content tailored to their specific configuration. If your content tool can’t handle audience-specific content (cough, PowerPoint, cough), you’ll likely end up making a copy and then changing bits and pieces, despite vast amounts of overlapping content among the different versions. This scenario makes maintenance a nightmare—you now have to make the same change in multiple places when it’s time for updates. 

2.  You can’t reuse or share content easily, even within the tool. If you have setup instructions that apply to all versions of your product or service, sharing these instructions across your content is an ideal solution. But not all content creation tools support this kind of basic reuse. You’re then forced to copy and paste the information and maintain all those versions. Rinse and repeat. (And then pull all your hair out.)

3. You can’t easily import or export content. If you have useful information developed in another content tool, wouldn’t it be great to import it in with minimal work or cleanup? And what about exporting information so that another tool can consume it?  For example, at least one popular learning content tool can’t import a Sharable Content Object Reference Model (SCORM) package, which is a common, standards-based format for exporting and importing learning content. I’ve seen forum posts that are years old requesting a SCORM import feature, yet that feature still doesn’t exist.

There are many closed systems out there—tools that don’t play well with other tools by design. The developers of these tools may not see any incentive in helping you import and export content. Therefore, your content becomes trapped within the confines of the tool.  

Do you recognize any of these signs? If so, it’s probably time to consider an approach that will provide you with repeatable, dependable content operations. You need technology that will sustain your content processes, even as your requirements evolve.

If you’ve outgrown a content tool, what tipped you off that it was time to move on? What was your breaking point? Share your frustrations in the comments below. 

And if you need help moving to extensible, flexible content operations, contact us

Thanks to Amber Swope at DITA Strategies for inspiring part of this post. She and I had a conversation about our frustrations with learning content tools that are closed systems.