Customer needs are concrete in nature

Often, the customers’ needs regarding product information management or publishing automation are very concrete and their benefits directly observed. I was visiting a customer who produces instruction manuals for their products in numerous languages. At the moment, these manuals are produced fully manually, which means that the text and images are laid onto an InDesign document which gets converted into a PDF-file. The finished instruction manual gets saved onto the system as a PDF, which then gets shared onto websites etc.

As the brand image has recently changed, the instruction manual’s back cover needs updated, meaning that the change will apply to all instruction manuals. There are not overwhelmingly many of the products that require these manuals, only around 500. However, they get translated into several languages so the overall amount is significantly larger. Let’s assume that there are five languages, which then makes the overall number of these manuals around 2500.

The manual changing process goes as follows:

  1. The original file gets downloaded from the system onto the user’s work station
  2. The user replaces the back cover or adds the necessary changes
  3. The instruction manual gets converted into a PDF-file
  4. The produced PDF-file and its page layout file get saved into the system where it can be used again for websites etc.

This process takes around 5 minutes per document. Going through all the documents, this will take 12,500 minutes which is over 200 hours, or 30 full working days. In practice this means that one individual in the business would be making these changes to the documents for six working weeks. Thus, the job that seemed so insignificant at first actually takes a significant amount of time. In reality, the documents are translated into many more languages than given in this example.

This problem can be easily solved through publishing automation. These instruction manuals could be produced and saved automatically which would also mean that the updated documents would be quickly available in the system as the changes are processed.

An example of one of Adobe InDesign-based publishing automation: