Pushing DITA beyond software and IT: Implementing structured authoring in the Oil and Gas Industry

The oil and gas industry is currently undergoing a massive change. Demographics are changing, supply is growing, and the price of oil is nearing historic lows. As producers struggle to reduce costs while maintaining safety and reducing accidents, many are quickly realizing that existing knowledge management strategies must change. Organizations are struggling to train a new generation of employees, while at the same time, capturing the experiences and knowledge of the retirement age workforce.

The oil and gas industry is no stranger to process. With all of that process comes reams and reams of documentation. Each system and each piece of equipment requires operating manuals, training guides, and procedures. Because sites are often spread across multiple geographies, and because equipment and processes can differ from site to site, it can be very difficult to author and maintain that documentation. Furthermore, very little investment has been made thus far to bring training and procedural content authoring up to the modern standards seen in the software and IT industries. Many oil and gas companies still rely on Microsoft Word, printed PDFs, and network file servers to store and distribute their content.

But as demographics shift and budgets decrease, things are starting to happen. Enter structured authoring. Structured authoring enables these corporations to reuse content across sites, implement proper governance models, search and filter their existing content repositories, and generate richer outputs like HTML5-based online portals and eLearning. Employees can access their reference content or eLearning material from a single location, thus ensuring that what they consume is always up to date, accurate, and safe. This presentation describes the present state of documentation in the Oil and Gas industry. It also describes the challenges and opportunities of implementing a modern, DITA-based information architecture in a century old industry.

What can the audience expect to learn?

This presentation will discuss strategies used to implement structured authoring in a non-high tech industry. It will provide real world examples of how structured authoring can succeed in other industries, while describing many implementation challenges, risks, and pitfalls that were encountered along the way. These are lessons that are not necessarily unique to the oil and gas industry.

Meet the presenter

Morley Tooke has twenty years of experience as a programmer writer, technical writer, manager, and information architect. He has spent time at Microsoft, IBM, BlackBerry, and Rogue Wave Software. When not hacking his way through XSL transforms or converting something into something else, he spends his time mountain biking, listening to music on vintage headphones, and fishing.


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