By Bob Larrivee posted 09-02-2010 13:29


I know, those of you have been around for a while must be thinking, “Bob have gone crazy! WORM means Write Once Read Many.” You are correct, is certain instances, when talking about protecting content and media types, WORM will mean exactly that but when we talk about repurposing, for me it means Write Once Reuse Many. (In college it is plagiarism, in ECM it is repurposing because the information is a corporate resource to be shared.)

The concept is a simple one, do not rewrite what has already been written reuse it as much as possible. This requires some thought and a strong content management practices with a supporting environment that provides a single source for all content that is accessible by all who are authorized. It means we should consider what might be considered by some, a purist content management approach in that we do not write documents, we assemble documents using elements of content that is already written. This is a great approach to gain control and consistency over standard materials leveraging templates and style sheets to ensure consistency is maintained. Imagine a sales team where everyone is writing their own proposals each time and those proposals are all custom written with different messages for everyone. Now imagine those proposals can become contracts if the client agrees and signs the proposal. There is no consistency and the risk of something being misrepresented is high, placing the company at risk.

Take the same scenario and put into place a proposal template that can be populated using an interface that asks questions about the vertical market, region, product configurations, etc. And as the questions are answered, the template is populated with the official and approved information. The statements about vertical market are standardized content elements pulled from a single source. The product information is drawn from marketing and the pricing information from the finance systems. In this way, we improve the process of generating proposals and ensure consistency from one deal and one person to another.

In my view, the concept of single source, single truth lies in repurposing. The ability to create one piece of information that is shared across the enterprise and used for many purposes rather than one time. This requires thought, preparation and cultural changes in the way we think and work. The idea of assembling a document rather than writing one from scratch is foreign to many but it is something that can be done. SharePoint is a tool that can help enable organizations to move in this direction through the use of templates, and serving as the single source of information and content for all to use. When you create content ask yourself, this is something I need but where else can it be used. Think for the now but also for the future. Could it be used in sales templates, marketing materials and the web?  Who would use it beside me? How might they use it and elements of the content would they use? The opportunity is there, you just have to take time to assess the right approach. Repurpose: Write Once Reuse Many.

What say you? Do you have a story to tell? What are your thoughts on this topic? What is on your mind? Do you have a topic of interest you would like discussed in this forum? Let me know.

Bob Larrivee, Director and Industry Advisor – AIIM

You can meet me September 13 at the Document Strategy Forum in Chicago

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