New System Helps Technical Publications Team Keep Pace with Advancing Workload
The telecommunications industry has gone through tremendous upheaval over the past several years, as companies have slashed costs by trimming staff, selling off businesses and cutting non-essential services.
At some point, however, a business unit reaches a point where if they cut any further, they also run the risk of impairing their ability to get the job done. When faced with the need to find additional cost savings, the technical publishing team for one broadband access solutions provider, Advanced Fibre Communications (AFC), found a unique solution to this dilemma.
The team saw an opportunity to save costs - and improve operations - by joining forces with the training department to automate their content management processes. They also recognized that they needed help building this new system, so AFC engaged Innodata Isogen. In a preliminary review of AFC's content production process, Innodata Isogen saw even stronger opportunities to gain synergies by moving both departments to a shared single source publishing environment.
Automating content management and publishing processes also meant that the technical writing teams - which provided print documentation as well as digital Web-based and online information – would not have to rewrite and reformat the same basic information for multiple content deliverables.
Moreover, Innodata Isogen found that AFC's staff writers spent nearly 40%of their time manually formatting content for different customers and different output types. By automating the system, the teams would be able to focus on creating the content, not on formatting documents.
To eliminate those redundancies and inefficiencies, Innodata Isogen began implementing an XML-based content management system that would enable the technical writers to manage all content variables from a single document. This single-source publishing system meant the telco could combine the processes for publishing the documents both via print and on-line.
To test the effectiveness of the new system, the writers entered data directly into XML in a pilot project. Using XML as a standard authoring system enabled the technical staff to reuse components or entire sections of documents. Even better, the team found during the project that a single source publishing system would give them more time and flexibility to incorporate changes, thus ensuring that the content would be more accurate.
Upon completion of the pilot project, the Innodata Isogen team will roll-out the system in a phased implementation, converting one content deliverable at a time to ensure that the technical writing teams understand exactly what they need to do for each document.
The new system is expected to generate significant benefits. The potential cost savings alone could be impressive. AFC expects to recover the entire cost of the pilot and implementation after the first production cycle. After the rollout is completed, the company expects to save up to $1 million over the next three years due to automation and the elimination of redundant processes.
The technical staff also expects to achieve a 40% jump in productivity by eliminating manual rewriting and reformatting, allowing the teams to support an increasing workload with the same head count. Automating the process will also enable the writers to update new material and ensure that all content remains completely up-to-date. In addition, streamlining the management review and annotation process enabled the team to reduce the production cycle by three to four weeks.
As a result, employees will be able to get current print information much faster than before, and with improved access to online information, AFC staff members will be able to quickly retrieve information that helps them serve customers. And that is always a key test for any new system.