System consulting

Authoring systems assist technical authors in creating, managing and distributing documents. XML technologies and databases considerably increase work efficiency.

Frequently occurring problems: The authoring team regularly exceeds their capacity limits, the costs of producing documentation are considerably higher than expected, especially in the area of translation expenses. The use of an authoring system can considerably increase the efficiency of an authoring team.

Introduction of an authoring system

When implementing an authoring system, we place special value on a thorough preparation on the content and process side.

Together with the customers, we determine the existing potentials of their authoring work. To this end, we analyze all documents, work processes and the tool landscape. Based on the determined potentials, we describe the future documents and work processes as well as the requirements for the tool landscape. We assist you in communicating with the authoring system producer and, upon request, monitor the implementation of your requirements in the authoring system. We support the integration of the new tool in day-to-day authoring work with comprehensive training courses. The focus here is on the connection between the authoring system, working method and contents.

We support you throughout the entire project, from problem analysis through individual solution suggestions and independent advice in selecting a producer, up to the entire introduction of the new authoring system: We formulate your requirements precisely and completely and supervise the implementation and the optimum use for your team. For this we use our many years of experience from numerous projects with the leading producers of authoring systems.

Conceptual preparation

An indispensable part of the systematic introduction of an authoring system is a sound conceptual preparation. Not only the technical requirements are determined, but above all the content requirements as well. We use this to find the right data model. We also plan in advance how the contents will be granulated and modularized in the authoring system. Modularization provides you with a set of metadata that you need to optimally manage your contents in the authoring system.

Data models

A data model is necessary to create contents in an XML environment. This depends on which documents are created and how content is to be structured. When it comes to introducing an authoring system, you are spoilt for choice: there are proven standard data models and it is also possible to develop your own data model. The standard data models include:

  • DITA (Darwin Information Typing Architecture)
  • PI-Mod
  • DocBook
  • S1000D (data model of the aerospace standard)

We select the right data model together with you. While doing so, we take into account the requirements of your content structures as well as e.g. industry-specific needs. When necessary, we adapt the selected model.

System selection

To select a suitable authoring system, the customer lists his requirements as specifications – e.g. in the form of a classic specification sheet.

On the one hand, the specification ensures that all requirements are complete and consistent. On the other hand, it also allows suppliers of authoring systems to classify the services of their system. In addition to the classic specification sheet, a checklist, for example, can be helpful here.

We decide on a suitable form for the specifications together. We discuss the display methods, e.g. UML diagrams or requirements, with you. The specifications make it possible to inquire about and evaluate specific capabilities of individual authoring systems from the authoring system producers.

Implementation

The introduction of an authoring system costs resources and time that are often not available in day-to-day business.

To ease the burden on you, we can also take over the communication with your supplier on request. This reduces your efforts for project organization. You can concentrate on your day-to-day business and the content-related project work.

Cost/benefit analysis

Is the introduction of a system worthwhile? A cost/benefit analysis gives the necessary answers.

The introduction of new processes or tools first requires an investment. Based the analyzed potentials, we determine the ratio of the costs to these potentials. On this basis we provide you with reliable data on the time period within which your investment can reach the ROI point.

Optimizing the use of an authoring system

authoring systems are professional tools. Correctly integrated in the information process, they support the efficient production of documents over the long term.

The introduction of an authoring system should be done quickly. For this reason, the existing working methods, data structures and output formats are often transferred to the new system. This process can lead to short-term savings, for example through translation management functions; the long-term savings and development potentials are wasted though.

In order to enhance the entire potential of working with an authoring system, you need suitable methods and concepts, for example for standardization, the integration of authoring guidelines, reuse and single-sourcing. At the same time, the particularities of the used authoring system must be taken into account. The methods and concepts can be developed during as well as after the introduction phase.

Based on an analysis of your data stock, your existing information processes and logistics as well as the requirements for your product documentation, we develop concepts with you to tap hidden potentials. At the same time, we take into account the particularities of your authoring system. We support you in integrating the concepts in your writing environment, for example through training courses, coaching and the definition of system extensions and configurations.

Word template

Stable templates for Microsoft Word allow you to create even extensive documents quickly and consistently.

The members of your team create Word documents with different layouts and inconsistent formatting. The documents cannot be processed at different work stations without problems. The technical effort is therefore in no relation to the content-related maintenance of the documents. When the team uses a uniform document template, your documents will look consistent.

We also recommend an authoring guideline: This allows you to permanently integrate the criteria of the document template in the team. In connection with the authoring guideline and suitable functions of the Word template, the authors are optimally supported in creating user-friendly texts.

We discuss the design elements of your document template together with you. In doing so, we focus on functional aspects. We implement the uniform document template and train your employees to use it. If needed, we define in an authoring guideline how the individual design elements are to be used.

Downloads

download

Authoring Assistance in Technical Communication

› download PDF 552 KB
› download english version PDF 552 KB

download

Variants found, variants banned

› download PDF 405 KB
› download english version PDF 405 KB

download

Höhere Qualität durch Ergonomie im Schreibprozess (tekom 2011)

› download PDF 391 KB