Five Tips for Better Collaborative Writing

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“Writing is easy: All you do is sit staring at a blank sheet of paper until drops of blood form on your forehead.” — Gene Fowler

The image this quotation brings to mind?the solitary writer struggling to fill his page?is dated in more ways than one. There?s no disputing the underlying truth that writing involves more work than one might expect, but these days it rarely involves a physical page, and it isn?t always a solitary activity. Collaborative writing is the ever-increasing reality in a wide range of professional settings.

The conversation about collaborative writing often pays close attention to the tech tools available to manage process or to the pros and cons of collaborative writing in both academic and professional settings.

However, if you are reading this post, it is likely that you are already engaged in a certain amount of this kind of work, and that you and/or your organization already have tools in place to help manage the job.

So you?ve got the tools in place, how do you manage the human side of the equation? What about the sticky issue of clarifying roles or the ever-popular challenge of balancing the big picture with nit-picky details?

Here are 5 of our favorite tips for better collaborative writing:

1.      Make sure you know how to use version control

At all costs, everyone should know how to get to the most recent agreed-upon draft, so that whenever a problem or disagreement occurs, there is a frame of reference to which the group can turn. Whether you?re doing the job using shared files on common server space or using Alfresco Team, at some point a human being is going to decide which changes to incorporate and which parts of the document are now buttoned up.

Here?s the kind of thing that can happen: a paragraph that had been previously cut is reintroduced, but now ? because the transition leading into that section has undergone subsequent revisions ? the paragraph doesn?t seem to fit. The transition will have to be rewritten to accommodate this. Documents are systems in that the parts are all connected. Chaos lurks in the shadows, waiting for its chance to strike.

Version control (including a dogged adherence to naming conventions) is a lot of what holds that chaos at bay. Does this characterization strike you as a little over-dramatic? Ask a project manager who has seen it happen.

2.       Be clear about the purpose of each revision

Whatever the purpose, people should be laser-focused on it. Ask yourself: Is this iteration to clean up minor issues like style and tone tweaks or for larger things like structure and flow?

It?s infuriating when a revision that was supposed to be a substantive clarification comes back with nit-picky little style guide tweaks, ?that? vs. ?which? revisions, and so forth. That frustration can be eliminated by crystal clarity on the revision?s purpose. This is where the project manager or team lead says things like ?We?re checking the flow of information to make sure that every key term is either explained on first reference or can be understood from context and usage,? or ?I?m worried that there?s too much throat-clearing at the beginning and I want proposed cuts for the ?Background? section.?

3.      Trust the Subject Matter Expert (most of the time)

Trust your SME on content, but be ready to push back when they add unnecessary layers of complexity and threaten to confuse the very people with whom you?re trying to communicate.

In Made to Stick, Chip and Dan Heath describe a communication challenge they call ?the curse of knowledge.? How can too much knowledge be a problem? Because it problematizes communication when one party cannot remember what it was like to not already have expertise.

Good communication is staged and sequenced. That?s why, to appeal to common experience, some math experts aren?t very good math teachers. If a fourth-grader is learning about square roots for the first time, it will only muddy the waters to say that 4 and -4 are both square roots of 16. It?s true, but it?s a level of complexity that will prevent learning.

Make sure your group understands the intended audience for your document.

4.      Don?t keep fighting for a lost cause

Defer to the decision maker or to the majority of the group. When human beings work together on a project, differences of opinion are going to emerge. That?s not a bad thing. In fact, it is often through the process of airing out these differences that a new understanding will emerge.

However, when the group, or project lead, or other decision-making entity has decided something (e.g., ?No, we?re not going to use that example in section 2.?), the person who had a strong preference for a different approach needs to move on. Bringing these kinds of upstream issues into downstream discussion is a trust-killer, because your fellow team members thought that issue was settled. It?s also damaging to the emerging sense of shared accomplishment at having made it this far, because it implies that the agreed-upon parts of the work may still be revisited at any time.

5.      Designate a final editor.

Be clear about who pulls together the final copy. It?s going to happen that two contributors make competing revisions to their respective working copies of the same file, and commit those revisions to the repository. When this happens, even if your software spots the conflict, an editor needs to resolve it before the update is locked in and a new version is issued. Of course people are going to think that their changes add more value than someone else?s ideas. We can?t be but so objective about our own contributions. Someone has to own that job, and that person should also have an agreed-upon style guide to which to refer.
Collaborative writing poses a series of much-discussed benefits and challenges, including the tech component. With proper buy-in from the team, along with clear ground rules and roles, the human factor in developing collaborative documents can be a source of leverage rather than an uphill struggle.
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Live from Kofax Transform 2012: It?s all about Capture Enabled BPM

By Dan Talbot, Sr. Communications Manager, Kofax

If you ask someone responsible for improving process efficiency and information throughput within today’s typical enterprise about the biggest pain points in their business, it’s rare when the conversation immediately turns to the technical.  Rather, what you will hear first is a common desire to better meet the demands of those they ultimately serve:  the raft of customers with ever-increasing expectations for information and processes that are cleaner, faster and more accurate, all packaged in a way that quickly adapts to constantly evolving industry regulations and business requirements.

 That’s turning out to be a common theme here as well.  Kofax kicked off its annual Transform 2012 event in San Diego on March 11 for its customers and partners with three days of breakout sessions and workshops all centered around BPM and, more specifically, Capture Enabled BPM. 

As those familiar with a typical business process management scenario can tell you, the management of documents and processes will begin in one department and then migrate to another, often involving multiple constituents who must first understand the information before deciding where and how the information should be routed, regardless if its ultimate destination is another department, application or repository.  In most cases, the information (and those responsible for overseeing it) is often bottlenecked by largely manual, tedious processes and multiple layers of oversight and review, which results in process latency.

A key benefit of Capture Enabled BPM is its capacity to effectively remove or significantly shorten such a bottleneck, and thereby deliver more meaningful value from both the infomation and the underlying business process.  Following Kofax’s recent acquisition of BPM and dynamic case management solution provider Singularity, Transform is a culmination for Kofax customers and partners looking to learn how to fully automate the downstream business process and optimize business productivity.

Leading off the General Session keynote presentation is Craig Le Clair, VP and Principal Analyst at Forrester Research, with a session titled “Process 2020: The Role of Capture and Dynamic Case Management,” which will discuss how critical, “untamed” processes will affect your organization and what you can do about them, along with a look at the forces shaping the new world of work and our approach to business processes.

Stay tuned for coverage of Le Clair’s keynote and more on March 12!

Kofax Transform BPM Venue

Kofax Transform 2012...Beautiful Venue, Beautiful City


Kofax Transform BPM Exhibit Hall

Kofax Transform Exhibit Hall--More than 600 attendees over 3 days

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Selected press coverage from #AIIM12

Selected press coverage from #AIIM12
CMS Wire -- Virginia Backaitis -- Show and Tell at AIIM: EMC Unveils Documentum D2, Mobile App
Document Media -- Cheryl McKinnon -- Social Technology & Business: Halves of a Whole?
Fierce Content Management -- Ron Miller
Collaborative Planning & Social Business (blog) -- Keith D. Swenson
New Horizons Computer Learning Centers (blog) -- IT professionals honored at AIIM conference
SlideShare (web) -- Chris Riley -- Cloud ? AIIM Conference 2012
Document Media -- Interview with John Mancini
SharePoint Stories (blog) -- Dan Antion
Strait (blog) -- Get CIP certified? You?re crazy! I?m too darn busy.
Bamboo Nation Your SharePoint Community (blog) -- Julie Auletta -- Greetings from the AIIM Conference 2012
Oracle WebCenter (blog) -- Christie Flanagan -- Taking AIIM at Social
TechTarget: SearchContentManagement -- Jonathan Gourlay
Oracle WebCenter Blog -- Peggy Chen -- San Joaquin County, California Wins AIIM 2012 Carl E. Nelson Best Practice Award
EMA Blogs: The Compleat ECM Angle -- Gary MacFadden -- In Search of a Strategic Imperative for Managing Enterprise Content: Lessons from AIIM, ECM Vendors and the User Community
Steve Weissman on AIIM 2012, A Corner Turned
Jeff Shuey -- The AIIM Conference is a Hit!
Lubor Ptacek -- The Future of Content Management
Flickr Streams --

My keynote at #AIIM12 on Customer and Employee engagement

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Microsoft wins 10 Readers' Choice Awards

MICROSOFT Malaysia bagged a record 10 awards in this year's Computerworld Malaysia Readers' Choice Awards.

The company won in the categories of system management software, application server software, IT (information technology) asset management system, identity management, content filtering, unified threat management, data mining, collaboration platform, enterprise content management and unified communications.

The awards, billed as the "Oscars of the IT Industry", were based on votes by the publication's readers through an online survey.

In a statement today, Microsoft Malaysia chief operations and marketing officer Yasir Yousuff expressed the company's appreciation for the local ICT industry's support.
He said the world's top software company would continue investing in innovation to continue creating solutions that drive greater productivity and cost efficiencies.

Another notable winner at the Readers' Choice Awards was Hewlett-Packard Malaysia which received six awards.
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Rio Tinto Transforms Its Web Presence With Open Text Web Solutions

Open Text Corporation, a global leader in Enterprise Content Management (ECM), recently announced that Rio Tinto, one of the world's largest mining and exploration companies, has transformed its Web presence through the implementation of Open Text Web Solutions.

Over the years, Rio Tinto ( has grown significantly, often through mergers and strategic partnerships, which has led to more than 80 separate Web sites being created and run by separate divisions and individual mines around the world. This has caused significant challenges in communicating a consistent brand and sending coherent messages to its many stakeholders including investors, customers, suppliers, employees and the media.

To address these issues, Bryan Smith, Principal Adviser, Digital Media in Rio Tinto's Corporate Communications function, set out a clear strategy to transform Rio Tinto's global Web communications. The strategy focused on building a hub of Web templates - created, populated and managed centrally, but tagged for dissemination through the various Rio Tinto Web domains around the world. As a result Open Text was chosen to help engineer a high quality, worldwide Web presence that required minimal resources and with the flexibility to combine a consistent corporate image with local content generation.

Rio Tinto also appointed brand and digital media consultancy Rufus Leonard to handle the technical build of the Web infrastructure and work with a creative agency, View, on a new Web design. In addition to implementing a consistent and professional presentation for Rio Tinto around the world, a key requirement was for local operations to be able to add their own content within certain page frames while adhering to the global design and presentation standards. ...more details
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Cloud Content Application Developer Program

Enterprise content management (ECM) provider Alfresco Software Inc., has launched its Cloud Content Application Developer Program. Alfresco will provide an open source Amazon EC2-ready stack and developer kit for customers and partners to develop, deploy and monetize cloud service architecture content applications on the EC2 platform.

The Alfresco Cloud Developer Program offers partners "early adopter" advantages to deliver cloud-ready content applications for collaboration, document and records management. Alfresco will also offer a subscription for those requiring expert Enterprise 24/7 support.
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Innovative Share Point Solutions

Alliance formed to provide customers with industry-leading Enterprise Content Management and SharePoint infrastructure Management solutions and services

Woodbridge, NJ (PRWEB) September 25, 2009 -- CAMO Technologies, a leading developer of custom software applications, today announced its alliance with Avepoint, the leading provider of Infrastructure Management Software solutions for Microsoft SharePoint. The alliance will forge the purpose of delivering the full-spectrum technology solutions to SharePoint customers.

"We are very excited to partner with Avepoint", said Ashwani Jasti, President and CEO, CAMO Technologies. "Our goal is to provide our customers with the products and services they need to maximise ROI on their SharePoint investment. Teaming up with Avepoint cements our continued dedication to offering our clients high quality administration solutions for Microsoft SharePoint, using Avepoint soluttions; complete end-to-end infrastructure management solution that meets their specific business needs."...view more
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New OEM Partnership KOM Networks And Hyland Software

Hyland Software, one of the world's largest and fastest growing independent providers of enterprise content management (ECM) software, announced recently that it has signed an original equipment manufacturer (OEM) agreement with KOM Networks, creator and world-leading provider of secure archiving software and solutions.

"We've been saying for years that application and storage vendors need to work closely to deliver versatile archive and retention solutions that protect and preserve vital and sensitive data," said Joseph Martins, managing director for the Data Mobility Group. "By combining these two technologies, companies will have a comprehensive ECM software suite that is fully integrated with a secure archive repository."

The newly formed alliance allows Hyland to sell, deploy and service KOMworx and KOMpliance. Both KOM and Hyland will work closely to seamlessly integrate the OnBase suite with KOMpliance, providing a secure and high performance archive repository that meets varying compliance regulations and requirements. This in turn will make it easier for Hyland to support its customers who are already using KOM software.

"The thing that drives Hyland more than anything else is taking care of our customers," said Bill Filion, vice president of software development for Hyland Software. "And a good number of them, including many of whom are also using MEDITECH, are already benefitting from KOM products. Our relationship with KOM has evolved over the past 10 years. This new agreement will allow us to take the already outstanding support we offer our mutual customers to another level."

"This partnership will allow us work closer with Hyland than ever before," said Kamel Shaath, chief technology officer for KOM Networks. "The tight integration of technologies will also allow us to quickly reach Hyland's customer base, many of whom have already expressed interest in our products. KOMpliance will serve as a cost effective, highly efficient and broad data protection and retention solution that is a strong alternative to the more antiquated archive storage infrastructures." ...view more
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ECM Market Overview 2009

As I have said before, at CMS Watch we focus on evaluating individual vendors. Nevertheless, we do think it is important for every buyer to grasp a basic understanding of underlying market dynamics.

For those of you interested at what is happening in the world of Enterprise Content Management (ECM), here is a SlideShare recording that looks at our updated Cross-Check analysis of the vendors as of September, 2009.

More detailed analysis on the marketplace and head-to-head evaluations of enterprise portals vendors and products can be found in The Enterprise Content Management Report 2009. ...view more
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Oracle and TEAM Informatics, Inc.

MINNEAPOLIS--(BUSINESS WIRE)--TEAM Informatics, Inc. (“TEAM”) has been chosen by Oracle in three US regions as an E2.0 Pillar Partner focused on enterprise content management (ECM) products. Oracle selects 1 or 2 of its most capable partners in each of its 11 sales regions for the “pillars” comprising its industry-leading Fusion Middleware suite of products.

“To be nominated as the ECM partner within three of these regions is a great honor for TEAM,” said Dave Shannon, TEAM’s president and CEO, “we will work hard to live up to the confidence Oracle has placed with us.” Several of TEAM’s staff will be completing the Oracle Partner Sales Readiness Verification in preparation for the responsibilities associated with this role.

Upcoming during October 11-15, 2009, TEAM will be attending Oracle Open World at the Moscone Center in San Francisco. One of the industry’s highlight events, Open World offers a wealth of opportunities to learn from and interact with industry thought leaders. Several TEAM staff will be present to share their knowledge and experience regarding Oracle Universal Content Management (UCM) implementations.

“TEAM is proud of the track record we have developed with UCM and its integration with other technologies,” says Doug Thompson, TEAM executive vice president. Doug adds, “we welcome the opportunity to share our customer’s successes with potentially thousands of Oracle users.”

Siebel and all Oracle application customers can look forward to the unveiling of TEAM’s Siebel UCM demo that showcases Siebel, Universal Content Management, Web Center Suite and Document Capture. Previews of this demonstration, as well as other TEAM solutions, will be ongoing at the TEAM booth.

Users and vendors interested in UCM and its integration with other technologies are invited to stop by the TEAM Open World booth to exchange ideas!

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