Sometimes the answer to the question “At what point do you need a component content management system?” is quite obvious: when the machine is ready faster than the associated operating manual; when the help system is two releases behind the software version; when the writers simply can’t keep up with the work anymore.
Too Many Instructions?
If you’ve felt like documentation has been on the rise over the past few years, there’s a good reason for that. It’s because documentation is on the rise. Many companies are meeting increasingly individual customer needs – a car, for example, is no longer ordered today, but rather configured in a complex manner. This places completely new demands on documentation.
In addition, a mere supplementary sheet is no longer sufficient as documentation. Along with the classic manual, customers also expect online information, mobile support when using the products, and smart information with seamless integration of a wide variety of communication platforms.
And last but not least, many companies have focused even more on exports in recent years and have opened up new markets. From the point of view of documentation, this means a considerable increase in the number and type of documents. This is because the manuals not only have to be translated into each language, they also have to be adapted to the respective conditions in the target countries. The number of manuals and the effort required to create them therefore increases exponentially.
Speed, Cost, Quality
In this situation it’s clear that old methods can no longer lead to success. After all, modern technical writing has to meet completely different speed requirements than it did ten years ago. Technical writers need to be able to produce manuals, online information, and translations virtually at the touch of a button.
At the same time, however, the quality requirements for the manuals have also increased. This starts with the legal requirements. Today, security aspects and target-group suitability play quite a substantial role. The complexity of many products has risen and the documentation must make this complexity manageable for users. This is the only way for the product to be used safely and efficiently. The fact that this information is then also available on various channels (e.g., print, web, mobile, as an information portal, or on the machine display) goes almost without saying.
Exponentially increased demands lead to exponentially rising costs – if you stick to your old ways of working. Because not meeting the requirements is not an option. After all, the documentation is part of the product and is therefore indispensable. At the same time, the traditional way of working also means you will be losing out financially. This is because many other functional units in the company benefit from faster, higher-quality documentation as a knock-on effect. With a component content management system, you ensure better information exchange with the Marketing, Training, and Support departments; you reduce expenses and leverage new business potential.
Why Does a CMS Help?
Component content management systems (CCMS) apply a long-standing manufacturing principle to documentation: instead of manufacturing each product in one piece, individual modules are combined, which are then used comparatively individually. In a CCMS, such modules include warning notices, sequences of actions, and spare parts lists. Only when a specific instruction is needed are these modules combined with each other and brought together in a publication. The same module can therefore be placed in the manuals of different products or be used as an information module on the company website. To make this work, the CCMS consistently separates content, structure, and layout. It is only at the publication stage that decisions are made on the final output and which platform this is intended for. But don’t worry, outputs can be saved so that the design of a manual can be used again and again, for example. This enables the individual information modules to automatically become the finished information product.
So far we’ve concentrated on the theory, but you can only really comprehend the advantages of a CCMS when you see how it works in practice. So what are you waiting for? Get in touch and we’ll be happy to show you how to speed up your technical writing tasks with a CCMS.