A reuse map is a blueprint for planned content reuse. Planned content reuse means that you identify ahead of time exactly which pieces of content will be reused in a specific output. 

With planned content reuse, authors do not have to do anything to make the reuse happen. The planned content reuse is configured in the structured content management system (SCMS) or component content management system (CCMS). When authors log in to work on their content, the reused content is already in place.

Most enterprise content strategies include some planned content reuse along with manual content reuse. (With manual content reuse, authors decide which content to reuse, based on their authoring guidelines and content reuse strategy.)

Reuse maps serve several purposes:

        • Ensure planned content reuse is identified, documented, and approved before content creation begins
        • Establish baseline metrics for planned content reuse so that teams can measure ROI
        • Provide a specification to the systems integrator who configures the SCMS or CCMS 

The reuse map typically includes the following information:

        • Where content is created (the source of truth), such as within a reuse library or within the context of a source document
        • Where content is reused, such as within the same output or across multiple outputs
        • Whether the reused content is required or optional for an output type
        • Conditional logic for reusing the content, such as “if this condition is met, include reused content; if not met, exclude reused content”
        • Whether the reuse is verbatim (no changes from source) or derivative (changed, but the relationship to the source is maintained)
        • Other system-specific attributes that vary depending on system requirements

Reuse maps may contain other useful information. Some teams include all kinds of content reuse, whether the reuse is planned (automated ahead of time) or manual (reused at the author’s discretion). Some teams combine content model information (such as whether a piece of content is optional or required) with the reuse map. Other teams prefer to keep the reuse map highly focused on planned reuse only: source, destinations, and conditional logic.

Reuse maps are most critical when you have a large body of content that contains a lot of redundancy. For example, life sciences companies that produce pharmaceuticals, develop biotechnology, or manufacture medical devices all produce large volumes of content that contain a high level of duplication.

These companies have historically managed their content through document templates, document control systems, and a lot of time-consuming, high-risk manual efforts. In addition to creating unique (but possibly redundant) content, authors copy, paste, and tweak to create content that meets the various requirements of global health authorities and regulatory bodies. These manual efforts do not scale to meet modern enterprise goals.

As companies move to structured content ecosystems that support component-based content, they are able to plan ahead for common reuse scenarios. These companies can take full advantage of SCMS and CCMS capabilities, including automating much of their planned content reuse. 

The reuse map is just one tool in the structured content toolbox. For more, see Is Structured Content Ready for Pharma? and Is Structured Content a Hammer? 

Regina Lynn Preciado