November 9, 2023

CCMS Advantage for Product Engineers and Quality Control Specialists

image shows two product engineers inspecting the document

A lot of work goes into the manufacturing of products that we don’t often think about. All we see is the finished product, expecting it to perform as expected. What we don’t see is the work product engineers and quality control specialists perform to ensure those products are well-built, meeting customers’ needs while ensuring safety standards and regulatory requirements are met.

Product engineers define product requirements, create design specifications, develop conceptual designs, and outline manufacturing instructions. Quality control specialists create testing protocols and quality control measures ‌that ensure products meet specifications, industry standards, and regulatory requirements.

We could write an entire book (or three) about the responsibilities of these two roles, way more than we can put into a single blog. For our purposes, let’s narrow down the discussion to key processes that require technical documentation and discuss why a component content management system (CCMS) is the best tool to create and manage this documentation.

Managing Documentation with Component Content Management

Product engineers create a lot of technical documentation. For example, they perform requirements analysis and create a product requirements document. They develop conceptual designs, followed by detailed product specifications and technical documentation. Quality control specialists create and manage quality control procedures, standard operating procedures (SOPs), inspection guidelines, and training manuals.

Both roles must ensure that the products developed meet safety standards, environmental regulations, and regulatory requirements, along with meeting the needs of the customer and company.
It’s no small feat to create all this documentation and ensure it’s updated as needed (because no documentation is ever set in stone). Designs change, new materials, new manufacturing processes, new standards and regulations arise, and products evolve. Documentation gets updated as a result.

Product engineers and quality control specialists need a content management tool that helps them manage their technical documentation as efficiently and effectively as possible. A CCMS is that tool. Let’s take a look at how.

Single Sourcing Leads to Consistent Information

Consistency in creating and managing product-related documentation is critical for product quality and safety. If you manage different types of documents in different places, there’s no way to ensure the information is the same between them. Terminology, branding, product descriptions, and instructions could all be written differently, and there would be no way to know.

What would happen if you created a product instruction manual using one tool and the product designs and specifications using another? You risk having inconsistencies in how you refer to the product, how the product is described, or how to use the product.

What if you manage your product documents in a network drive or a collaboration tool as project folders with Word documents? Once the project is complete, those documents are stored in an archive. A new project starts that is an update to the product, and now you have to recreate or make copies of those documents to store in the new folder. There’s no way to track the changes made to the documentation to support the new project.

A CCMS helps maintain consistent terminology, branding, and messaging across all product documentation and technical materials through single sourcing. Single sourcing in a CCMS means you create content once and use it everywhere it’s needed. It enforces standardized documentation practices, ensuring product specifications, design requirements, and manufacturing instructions are consistent across different product versions and projects.

Structured Authoring Supports Content Reuse

There is a lot of similar content across product documentation. Structured authoring (a core tenant of a CCMS) allows product engineers to break down product information, such as descriptions, parts, features, or product capabilities, into reusable components that can be reused in multiple documents. Reuse reduces duplication and improves consistency.

For example, a product description can be written as a component that can be added to each type of product documentation – the detailed specification, product manual, instructions manual, etc. If the name of the product changes or some other part of the product description is updated, the change is only made once and reflected in every piece of documentation that reuses the description component.
Content reuse also applies to visual content such as diagrams, schematics, and conceptual drawings. Although these types of visuals are created using tools like PTC or Dassault Systems, the final versions can be stored in the CCMS and reused across all product documentation.

Quality Control Specialists also benefit from structured authoring as they create training materials and documentation. For example, they can reuse predefined quality control checklists, inspection protocols, and testing procedures across different products or product versions. As they build training materials, they can reuse already documented procedures and standards instead of duplicating the information in a training tool. Training materials can be published to the learning management systems integrated with the CCMS.

Versioning Tracks Product Changes Over Time

Product design evolves over time, as do regulatory requirements, safety standards, and compliance standards. Managing revisions and tracking changes to documentation that is produced separately is difficult. And when you are storing multiple versions of documentation, it’s hard to know if your teams are working with the most recent version.
A CCMS provides the version control and auditing necessary to ensure only the latest and most accurate information is available to end-users, whether that’s your customers or your manufacturing, quality control, and training teams.

As you update your technical documentation, changes are tracked, and the CCMS maintains a complete audit trail of all changes – essential for audits and regulatory compliance.

image shows product specialists checking quality on products
Image by Drazen Zigic

Multilingual Capabilities Support Global Audiences

A CCMS facilitates the creation of multilingual documentation for global product distribution. Not only is this a way to reduce translation costs because you are only translating one copy of the content, but equally important, it ensures everyone can access the same information regardless of language. You can even use the translation services of a CCMS to manage image translations if needed. For quality control specialists, easily managing the translation of checklists, procedures, and training materials is also critical.

It Takes a Team to Build a Product

Products are designed and built by multidisciplinary teams. As documentation is developed, product engineers require real-time collaboration and content sharing with team members to ensure accurate information. A CCMS provides collaboration capabilities that give team members the proper access to review, comment, and approve documentation.

Also, while product engineers are the owners and often primary authors of documentation, there are other contributors who support content development. A CCMS enables the product engineer to assign content development to these contributors, and that content would also go through a review and approval process.

The same holds true for quality control specialists. They can use the collaborative capabilities of a CCMS to request feedback on quality control procedures and SOPs or ask for clarifications on quality standards. If a procedure needs to be updated, they can notify the appropriate person or team and assign the update to them in the CCMS.

A CCMS streamlines review and approval processes and reduces communication barriers through automated workflows and notifications and the creation of roles and permissions for each reviewer.

Improving Product Engineering and Quality Control with a CCMS

Product engineers and quality control specialists use many different tools to do their job. However, the benefits of a component content management system to streamline documentation creation and management and ensure standards are clear. Using a CCMS, each specialist can produce much of the technical documentation in parallel, reducing the time needed to prepare, review, and deliver the content. Product engineers and quality control specialists can enhance their efficiency, accuracy, and collaboration, ultimately contributing to the development of high-quality products that meet industry standards and regulatory requirements.