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July 3, 2015

Customized documentation services – skill and collaboration

What do you do when you and your client have incompatible CMSs, a time sensitive text review process, and a limited budget? Build a customized CMS.

I hear you protesting. What about ROI, lost opportunities, expertise and resource constraints? Well, we considered all of these and decided that the project was a direct fit with one of our key growth strategies – integrating technology and innovative solutions with our products and services.

We approached this challenge as an opportunity to demonstrate our core competencies as a technical communication service provider while at the same time highlighting some of our lesser known skills in software development and usability testing. So far the project is on track and our investment is paying off.

The project’s purpose was to develop a customized CMS that would speed up the text review and approval process for large volumes of short, instructional text strings. For this particular client, our writers work closely with the client while development is taking place. The development cycle is a dynamic environment in which the user interfaces and instructional text are created as part of an iterative process in parallel with the development of the device or feature.

Our client is a manufacturer in the continually evolving mobile industry. Content efficiency for their rapid production cycle is sustained by optimizing text strings for reuse and localization. Having these modified strings prepared in the CMS ensure that they easily located in the database and results in changes that are applied quickly and consistently. The solution had to be able to speed up the review process in an environment that uses multiple languages, jurisdictions, and sentence and word variations.

The CMS was developed by our software engineers after they reviewed a detailed set of user requirements from our technical writers and the client. A major consideration for them was ensuring the system was designed for a large volume of text and various locales as our client manufactures more than 300 different models every year for the global market. The database and interface focuses on:
  •  Reusing standardized text
  • Applying consistent text and organization
  • Word and sentence search functions
  • Minimizing retranslation costs
  • Tracking client approvals and text change history
The CMS was written for the Microsoft SQL Server data platform using VB.Net and Javascript to provide a user interface (UI), a notification loop for feedback and approvals, and analytics to streamline and enhance the quality of the text strings.

The service needed to be hosted as a secure cloud service and be accessible by mobile devices. The screenshot below shows the user interface and the search function.


Blending their existing experience in data management and business processes with fundamental information design principles, the software team quickly developed a test CMS that was then tested for usability by our technical writers. Usability testing followed a documented process that our Usability Team prepared based on the existing goals of the process and a task analysis of the current workflow (see diagram below).


The beta version is currently operating and has already proven itself by enabling real-time feedback, increased accuracy, and more responsive feedback within the client’s development cycle. Also, cloud and mobile device accessibility was tested to ensure that time-critical text could be reviewed by all authorized parties regardless of location or time. Internally we were able to successfully test our approach to collaboration and innovation - opening up new areas of service and support.


Please get in touch if you want more information about how we can help add value to your instructional content and localization projects.

3 comments:

  1. Thanks for sharing a nice blog.
    TWB provides #Communicatong #Technology and #Content #Automation #Services. TWB_ delivers unprecedented efficiency,improves content quality, achieves faster go-to-market and crashes costs for Marketing + Learning + Product Content for enterprise customers.Leaders in Communicating Technology|Content Automation | Research & Publications.

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  2. Very Useful information Thank you !!
    TWB provides Best #Engineering #Documentation #Service. TWB Engineering Documentation Service offer high-quality, accurate, and cost-effective solutions for Engineering Documentation.Engineering Technical Writing | Engineering Documentation

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  3. Your blog is very helpful for me about documentation services.Book shipping costs are very low for documentation.

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