Aftersales Documentation

With the help of suitable methods and tools, information management ensures that information is available and thereby makes authoring work more efficient.

In many Technical Documentation departments, research is an equally important and time-consuming area of work and often only functions via informal contacts. Often, information on relevant changes to the product is not included in the documentation at the beginning of a project but only through the review cycles. Neither the time of the transfer nor the source nor the objective of the information is standardized. The decision to reuse or create new contents strongly depends on the individual experience of the author.

These and other unused optimization potentials in the information process result in errors and thus risks, unnecessary costs and delays. In order to systematically enhance these and other potentials in the information process, it is first necessary to clarify the structures of the information to be developed.

For this reason, we use example data to develop exemplary information structures that we represent in a comprehensive module matrix. The use of the modules, their data source and the information type are defined in the module matrix. It thus serves as the basis for highly efficient authoring work with targeted creation and reuse and with a reliable quality level.

Modularization and classification

Modularization and classification ensure that information can be found and reused.

With modularization, contents are broken down into parts – the modules – and made available for reuse. An optimum classification makes it easier to retrieve information and correctly assign it to products, components and target groups. When the size of the contents increases, the number of modules grows. However, how can thousands of modules be maintained and updated? How can the right module be found quickly for reuse?

To prevent the authoring department from drowning in administrative tasks when working with modules and from rewriting existing modules because they could not be found, modules expected in the future must be listed and classified. This structured overview, the module matrix, makes it possible to determine the required metadata and storage structures as well as the optimum module sizes, the granularity.

We use established methods of standardization, structuring and modularization to develop clearly defined information structures. In the module matrix, we classify and structure the modules according to their communicative purpose (instructive, descriptive, ...). We use the product structure to derive criteria that function as metadata allowing the modules to be assigned to components and target groups and to be retrieved. In addition, further classifications such as the source information, time of origin or target media can be documented.

In an interactive process, the required metadata and classifications of the modules can be reduced to the necessary minimum, and the optimum module size can be determined. The resulting metadata concept is then implemented in the data store or the authoring system.

Your advantage

  • Transparency regarding the required volume of information with the source and intended use of the individual modules
  • Higher degree of content reuse and thus a reduction of production and translation costs
  • Reduction of the number of modules through optimum distribution of the information to modules, with a view to reuse
  • Fast and efficient production, maintenance and release of information by finding an optimum set of clear metadata for modules
  • Improved integration capability with product configurators in ERP systems (such as SAP)

Information logistics

With intelligent information logistics, the right information is available in the right place at the right time.

Often, the scope of technical documentation is to be decreased in order to save costs for production, translation, printing and transport. The hasty reaction is often to put a quick reference guideline out on paper and the rest as a download. Or the customer service department reports back that they are not taking the instructions with them because these are a) to bulky and b) people cannot find what they need. Then just a PDF for downloading.

But what goes into the quick reference guideline and what should be made available digitally? What would service employees look for? Especially for multimedia contents and hybrid documentation, the challenge is to create the information for all output channels at low cost and on time. We meet these requirements in three steps:

1.) In a target group analysis we determine the information needs of the various users.

2.) With the help of Funktiondesign, we develop an information model that defines the scope, form and structure of the contents for all target media.

3.) The media concept takes into account the tasks and the typical work environment (light, dust, Internet access, time pressure) of the users and defines which contents are published and sold in which media.

Your advantage

  • Uniform information model that serves all target platforms (PDF, web, smartphones, tablet etc.)
  • Distributed but consistent creation and publication on any target platforms desired
  • Integration of all types of media



Informationsbearbeitung mit Funktionsdesign (tekom-RG 2009)

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