Use XML for All Content.
All content! Everything that is not functionality belongs in a XML file. This includes all verbage (all words), all links, and all media/files (*.flv, *.mp4, *.mp3, etc.). There should be absolutely no verbage within ActionScript. ActionScript should be fetching XML with possible responses and extendable to have an unlimited amount of responses. The ActionScript should contain the logic to get the correct response based on parameters within the XML file.
With some people, project managers, supervisors, managers, etc. (you know who I am talking about!), you may get a request to change the verbage the day you are supposed to launch the content. If this setup is done right, the hold up will never be about you, the instructional designer. Instead, the hold up will simply be the process or the governance that happens to be in place.
Why not make it simple? Links change, expectantly or unexpectantly. There is nothing worse than a broken link inside a course. It’s just poor UX. Whenever that email comes stating that a link no longer works, having it in a XML file makes it incredibly easy, especially if you have server access!
Finally, ALL videos, audio, and multi-media files should be in the XML. This will allow you to update a video quickly and easily without having to re-insert it in the course. All you would need to do is replace the file and the filename (of course, you want to change the filename to keep up with the version and/or date, etc., per your naming convention or governance).
Have a Change Order Process.
We all know these people. We’ve all worked with people like this. You know the type. The type that calls and makes the request over the phone instead of email. Most of the time, they are simple and quick fixes. However, a simple and quick fix, even if it takes only 30 seconds, takes 15 minutes or so. Research (here) demonstrates that email collaboration takes 16 minutes for a person to effectively refocus on the task at hand (see The Cost of Not Paying Attention or Rubinstein, Joshua S.; Meyer, David E.; Evans, Jeffrey E. (2001). Executive Control of Cognitive Processes in Task Switching. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance, 27(4), 763-797. for more information). It takes an “enormous” amount of time to switch tasks (to/from emails, meetings, etc.). Not only the physical time it takes to do this, the mental/emotional time compounds the impact.
So, the best practice is to create a change order process, which involves a form that is stored in a queue (or email, if you have to). Then at the designated time, check those change orders and then have the process of vetting those changes, etc. This will give visibility to the inner workings of a project to all parties involved. So praise/fault can be evenly distributed when a project does well or falters, and a proper root cause analysis can be made. Was it the process? the decision to incorporate the change? the change itself? etc.