Top 10 challenges documentation software solves

March 21, 2024
image shows woman working with documentation tool

How do you know when it’s time to use documentation software or change your process for creating documentation? This blog post explores some of the most common challenges that documentation software solves, and what you should look for in a solution.

There are many types of documentation software, and here we’ll focus on solutions that help you with the process of creating, reviewing, publishing and reusing technical documentation at scale. Not to mention, localization and translation of that documentation. There are some tools that handle parts of that process quite well, but as companies grow they often need one documentation solution to bring everything together.

Here are some quick questions you can ask yourself:

  • Is our documentation siloed across the organization?
  • Is our documentation out of date or difficult to update?
  • Do we spend too much time creating versions of similar documentation?
  • Is it difficult to publish our documentation to multiple channels?
  • Is our review process too time-consuming and hard to track?

If you answer yes to any of those questions, documentation software could be the solution you need. Documentation software can help you efficiently manage a wide range of technical documentation, including product manuals, procedure manuals, user guides, troubleshooting guides, help center content and eLearning content.

Let’s take a closer look at the main challenges companies use documentation software to solve.

1. Documentation is siloed across departments, subsidiaries or regions.

Storing and managing documentation in different places is a common problem for many companies. Documentation can become siloed due to different departments or regions managing the documentation, or you simply haven’t had a standardized approach to creating documentation as your company has grown. The result can be documentation that is hard to find, update and keep consistent. In addition, it’s also hard to reuse content across other docs that are not in the same doc team.

Solution: Manage all your documentation in one place. One of the really helpful features of documentation software is that it enables you to create, update and standardize documentation in one place. You no longer have to worry if customers are receiving up-to-date documentation, since all changes are made and tracked in the software.

2. Too many tools and processes are used for documentation. Content for a Help Center?

Companies often find themselves in the position of using multiple tools and software to produce documentation. They might use Microsoft Word or Google Docs to create a document, use Confluence, Jira, or Excel to manage the documentation, then use InDesign to lay out and publish it. These manual processes take too much time, both for reviewing the documentation, updating it, and publishing it.

Solution: Use documentation software to get a single source of truth. With documentation software like a component content management system (CCMS), you can create, review and publish documentation using only one tool. The software enables you to create and review documentation in one place, then publish it in a wide range of formats. You save time and increase consistency.

3. It’s difficult to publish documentation to multiple channels.

Documentation such as procedure manuals, user guides and help center content often needs to be published in multiple formats and in multiple channels. For example, you might provide a user guide as a PDF to customers, but they might also want similar content available on an online help center. If this content is inconsistent or out of date, you risk hurting your business, but manually updating the content can take too much time and lead to errors and inconsistency.

Solution: Documentation software that separates content and publishing. With documentation software like a CCMS, you can create and manage all your documentation in one place, then easily publish it in different formats. In the example of a user guide, you can use built-in tools in the documentation software to automatically lay it out as a PDF and at the same time create an HTML5 fileset that can be uploaded to your help center. Your documentation stays up to date and consistent with less work and hassle.

image shows two people working in documentation software

4. Customizing documentation takes too much time.

Many companies need to change parts of their documentation for specific customers, products or markets. To solve this, they often make these changes manually, which can be incredibly time-consuming, as well as being very error-prone. This way of working also makes it difficult to ensure that the core parts of the documentation remain consistent when updates are made later, as the documentation now exists in multiple versions.

Solution: Use software to manage different versions of your documentation. Documentation software enables you to automatically change selected content based on what type of product, customer or region you are referring to. Using version and branch management, along with variables and profiling, you increase the amount of content you can reuse, keep your core content consistent and save time.

5. Reviewing documentation is a slow, manual process.

When companies use multiple tools for their documentation, reviewing the documentation can take a lot of time. You might create content in one type of software, then turn it into a PDF for review, then need to notify the reviewer manually, then keep track of the review process using another tool. This type of process is even more demanding when companies need to provide an audit trail for all changes to the documentation.

Solution: Manage the entire review with documentation software. When you use cloud-based documentation software, such as Paligo CCMS, the review process takes place in one location, with automatic notifications and full traceability of changes. You can easily assign texts for review, see what changes were made, and quickly get an overview of where you are in the process. You can also integrate the documentation software to send automatic notifications in Slack, Microsoft Teams and GitHub and email.

6. Documentation isn’t standardized across the company.

If you have different departments producing documentation, or even just different people over time, you may have a problem with a lack of standardization in your documentation. This can result in inconsistent layouts, different ways of describing the same product, and in some cases – such as the finance and insurance industries – differences in the services you provide. Standardization in documentation can be key to ensuring consistent internal processes, following regulations, and meeting customer expectations.

Solution: Use documentation software to standardize your language and layouts. With a component content management system (CCMS), you can make sure that critical language and descriptions are the same across your organization. You can update these components in one place, then publish them everywhere at once. You can also easily set up templates and design features to standardize your layouts.

image shows woman writing technical documentation
Image by Rodeo Project Management Software on UnSplash

7. It’s difficult to reuse content in technical documentation.

Many types of documentation, such as product manuals or user guides, contain the same content with small variations. The trouble is that companies often produce this documentation on a case-by-case basis, where it gets locked into PDFs, making it difficult to reuse. This leads to a lot of duplicate work of rewriting the same information, often with inconsistencies.

Solution: Reuse content from your documentation software’s database. When you create documentation using a CCMS, each part of your documentation is a component in a database. This means that you can create documentation by reusing the components that are exactly the same, and you only need to create the new components that are different. This saves you time and increases consistency.

8. Documentation needs to be secure and compliant.

For companies that need to ensure that their documentation follows changing regulations, it can be a big challenge to update documentation and ensure consistency. Security and data protection related to the documentation is also a concern, particularly for companies in the finance, defense, pharma and insurance industries.

Solution: Secure documentation software with a full audit trail. With a CCMS like Paligo, companies get a clear audit trail of changes made to their documentation. You can easily view the history of components, including when changes were made and who did them. Key compliance content can also be easily reused, ensuring consistency, and security controls protect sensitive information.

9. Translating documentation is inefficient and costly.

When companies translate documentation without connecting the translations to documentation software, they often end up translating the same content over and over. This makes translations costly and can also result in the same content being translated in different ways. Companies can also store translations in different places, making it difficult to ensure that translations are updated when the master content changes.

Solution: Manage translations in one place with documentation software. Paligo CCMS simplifies translation management by centralizing translations and ensuring consistency. Translations are associated with each component, which reduces unnecessary translations and streamlines multilingual content publishing. Paligo also offers integrations with professional translation services and workflow tools for efficient translation management.

10. Our current solution is too slow and difficult to use.

When trying to find a solution for documentation management, companies might decide to cobble together a solution using several tools, which ultimately takes too much time to manage. Companies could also choose an on-premise solution that gets slower over time, as documentation increases, or a solution with an interface that is difficult for non-technical writers to use. All of these scenarios can lead to wasted time and documentation that is out of control. Home-grown solutions also become difficult to maintain and upgrade over time, often resulting in being locked into older versions of the tool chain that are inherently unstable and insecure.

Solution: Choose cloud-based, user-friendly documentation software. Unlike homegrown solutions, Paligo CCMS is specifically designed to centralize and simplify documentation management. As a cloud-based CCMS, Paligo is fast and reliable, and it has an intuitive authoring experience that makes it easy for writers and reviewers to quickly get their work done.

See how Paligo can solve your documentation challenges

Companies across industries use Paligo for faster authoring, increased consistency, and higher content reuse. Request a demo to learn more about how Paligo can help your organization.