Workflow Control: Product Documentation Management


A Fortune 500 manufacturing client with international sales produces product documentation in each country's language where the product is sold representing more than 30 different languages. Given the volume of products being sold and the increasing number of countries being reached, the process was becoming time consuming and difficult to manage. Product documentation development was rapidly becoming a bottleneck for the entire new product introduction process. There was no centralized point of control or reporting mechanism to monitor the progress of each step within the documentation development process.


The current process was composed of various documents and forms forwarded from one person to the next along the process flow. Additionally, the documents were being translated into multiple languages by multiple vendors from various countries who charged by either the number of words or pages with no method of tracking their progress. A single project might contain five different documents translated into six different languages with 20 different product images being displayed. Additionally, each step from writing the original document to tracking the translated documents multiple revisions had to be tracked. The sheer volume of documents, languages, projects and translation companies resulted in an enormous project management and tracking challenge.


ADC consultants analyzed and streamlined the processes needed to develop a multi-lingual documentation set. The key to the success of the project was the development of a tracking system with an interface for building projects, coordinating translation with multiple vendors and constructing complete documentation sets. It also provided a centralized method of document management with project metrics retained for historical review.


The project produced a streamlined workflow for completing a documentation project and has been used to produce, on average over 150 documentation projects per year since its inception. The system provided much needed visibility to project bottlenecks and process lags. The client was able to coordinate efforts on multiple parallel projects, enforce deadlines with their vendors, and improve overall process efficiency. Since its initial release the software application has been adopted by numerous other groups within the company and has assisted in the client's efforts to consolidate documentation resources world-wide.