Producing Technical Communication Faster With a CCMS

May 30, 2024

The ultimate goal of technical communication is to convey complex information in an accessible format. This can be a challenge in itself for technical writers, but the challenge grows even greater when you need to ensure that all technical communication across your organization is accurate, consistent and easy to update.

If your organization relies on technical communication as a key part of its operations, a component content management system (CCMS) could be just the tool you need. This article outlines the benefits of a CCMS for technical communication, presents key features of CCMS, and provides best practices for implementing and using a CCMS for technical communication, including manuals, instructional guides, policy documents, and more.

Before diving into the details, here are some of the results that typical organizations experience when using a CCMS for technical communication. They see up to:

  • 75% savings on content reuse.
  • 25% time saved reviewing.
  • 40% ticket deflection.
  • 90% translation efficiency.

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What types of technical communication are a good fit for a CCMS?

Technical communication comes in many different formats, from scientific research papers to instructional guides for installations. A component content management system is best used for content that follows a structured approach, rather than free-flowing text, as a CCMS is based on breaking up your content into individual components. Types of technical communication that benefit from a CCMS include:

How does a CCMS make it easier to produce technical communication?

A CCMS is software that helps you write, edit, update, review and translate technical communication in a way that saves you time and resources. A CCMS also makes it easier to reuse content and create multiple versions of similar content.

Using a CCMS requires a different way of working compared to creating technical communication using word processing software. With a word processor, you create your documentation as one, complete file. With a CCMS, on the other hand, you create documentation using individual components, such as a headline, a paragraph, a diagram or a list of steps. These individual components are stored in a database, either hosted or on-premise. To create your documentation, you add your components together to form a complete document.

A CCMS uses components because this makes it easier to reuse individual components and keep technical communication up to date. For example, let’s say you have a list of steps for part of an installation. Without a CCMS, if a change is made to those steps, you have to manually go into your documentation and update those steps everywhere they are used – a time-consuming process. With a CCMS, however, you can make a change in one place then apply it everywhere.

image shows man using a ccms for technical communication

The importance of using a CCMS in technical communication

Companies that rely on technical communication, in industries such as manufacturing, software, life sciences, insurance and finance, usually have a broad range of documentation across their organization. Even just one product can have dozens of versions of its documentation, based on product type, customer, region and language. If one change is made to that product, technical communicators may need to spend days or weeks updating it in each document. With a CCMS, you have a single source for each component, so you can update the change everywhere in just minutes.

Another important benefit of a CCMS is fast and easy publishing across channels. Customers often judge companies based on the accuracy and reliability of their technical communication. If your documentation is out of date, or it doesn’t match the documentation available online, this can lead to confusion and frustration. With a CCMS, on the other hand, you can simultaneously publish documentation in several formats, such as PDFs and HTML5, as well publishing to CRMs, Git repositories and content delivery platforms. This helps make sure your communication is consistent across channels.

An additional benefit with a CCMS is that components are created separate from layout. Instead, your documentation is automatically laid out at the time of publishing, based on templates and stylesheets, which saves time and prevents inconsistencies.

Key features and functions of CCMS for technical communication

CCMS include several features that make creating technical communication easier, faster and more consistent. A CCMS includes a user interface for content authoring, where you create and combine components, and it is also used for content management, where you can keep track of all the documentation that has been created. CCMS also include capabilities for publishing and delivery, and they often include features for language localization and translation management.

Many organizations turn to a CCMS when their documentation has become siloed, difficult to keep track of, or is simply too costly or time consuming to produce, as they are continuously reinventing the wheel every time an update or a new version needs to be created. To understand more about how a CCMS works, and how it helps you avoid these problems, let’s take a closer look at the main features of a CCMS.

Policies and Procedures

Discover how easy it is to create policies and procedures with a CCMS.

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Authoring technical communication in a CCMS

Structured authoring: A central concept with CCMS is structured authoring, which is the method of creating documentation based on individual components. The structured content is usually based on an XML content model, which uses semantic tags so the system knows what type of content the component refers to, such as an introduction, a headline, or a procedure. You then add all the different components together to create your documentation. By authoring content using XML, component types remain consistent across users, and the CCMS can automatically format content at the time of publishing, based on previously established stylesheets.

Single sourcing: One of the greatest advantages of a CCMS for technical communication is single sourcing. This means that each component is stored in only one place, and the CCMS keeps track of everywhere the component is used, including a full audit trail of any changes. This enables you to quickly find, reuse and update components, saving you time and increasing consistency across your documentation.

Content reuse: With a CCMS, you build up a library of components that can be quickly reused in any document. The content reuse feature is ideal for organizations that need to produce a lot of documentation in a short amount of time. For example, if your organization uses the same warnings or admonitions in all product manuals, a CCMS enables you to reuse existing warnings in all technical communication. In addition to saving time, content reuse helps your organization avoid everyone writing similar content in slightly different ways.

Managing technical communication with a CCMS

Version control: Another core feature of a CCMS for technical communication is version control, which enables you to easily create multiple versions of your content in different stages of development. Additionally, version control enables content creators to easily revert to previous versions if necessary, reducing the potential for errors and ensuring continuity. It also supports compliance with industry standards and regulations by maintaining an audit trail of changes, which is essential for accountability and quality control in content-heavy industries.

Version control can also be used to create versions of your documentation for different product models or to create localized versions of your content, such as for different languages or regions. This is done through branching, which is designed for creating multiple versions of related content. It bears a resemblance to duplication, but offers additional features and affords a wider range of options when working with your content. By branching, you create a duplicate version of a publication or topic that acts like a copy, but recognizes that it is related to the original version. This indicates that the original and the branch versions can either be used independently as parallel versions or they can be eventually merged back into one version later.

Collaboration tools: A common problem when creating technical documentation is how to share the content with multiple reviewers and collect timely feedback. Often technical writers must export the documentation to another format for reviewers, keep track of the review process, then manually enter changes. A CCMS solves this with built-in collaboration tools that enable authors to assign content to reviewers or contributors, set start and end dates for the assignment, and send automatic notifications. Your content does not need to be exported from the CCMS for review, helping ensure accuracy and consistency in your technical communication, while saving time.

Publishing and delivering technical communication with a CCMS

Multi-channel publishing: Many companies spend far too much time formatting technical communication, or they outsource formatting to an agency if they don’t have a designer on staff. Another challenge is that the documentation can become locked in its final format, such as a PDF, making it difficult to reuse and update content. A CCMS solves this by enabling easy, multi-channel publishing with built-in layout editors. Technical writers can focus on creating great content, then, when it is ready, select whichever format they want to publish it in, including PDFs and HTML5, or deliver the content to CRMs, Git repositories, or content delivery platforms.

Customizable layout options: A CCMS also makes it easy to customize layouts however you want. For PDFs, you can create templates that specify page layouts, page breaks, page borders, fonts and colors. For HTML5, you can select different theme options and also add custom CSS or JavaScript to get the look and performance you want. You can also create layouts for eLearning and SCORM output, including a table of contents and quizzes.

image shows woman using CCMS software on her computer

Localization and translation management in a CCMS

Global content delivery: A CCMS can transform and simplify translation management for your technical communication. A common problem with translating documentation is that similar or the same text gets translated over and over, since there is no easy way to keep track of translations. With a CCMS, each component has metadata tags, making it easier to categorize, search for, and reuse content. This eliminates unnecessary duplication, saves money, and provides consistency across materials. A CCMS also enables you to manage all translations in one place, helping you make sure that all documentation has been translated and kept up to date.

Translation memory integration: Many CCMS also have integrations with providers of translation services. With Paligo CCMS, for example, translations can be managed by professional translation services, or translations can be manually added with the Paligo translation editor. Paligo has integrations with translation services such as Transperfect and Phrase, as well as built-in workflows to help you efficiently manage translations. You can also use an auto-translate feature that uses Google Translate. These features enable better collaboration, help you easily track the progress of translations, and improve the accuracy and consistency of translations.

Multilingual component structure: With a CCMS, you can associate a translation with every component you use. Once you enable languages for each component, or each publication, then the translations for each language are kept alongside the default language. This makes it easier to track and change translations across your documentation. When you’re ready to publish, you simply choose a layout then select the language or languages you want to publish in.

Benefits of using a CCMS for technical communication in CCMS

Overall, a CCMS is designed to make your technical communication more accurate and consistent, save time and resources, improve collaboration, and ensure the scalability of documentation processes. Here’s how a CCMS can help you achieve these results:

Improved efficiency and consistency

As a CCMS is based on reusable content components, this helps technical communicators create documentation faster. There’s no need to rewrite everything when you create a document. By reusing components, you also ensure that your technical communication is consistent. Paligo CCMS includes a full audit trail of all components, so you always know when changes have been made, and you can always revert to a previous version.

Improved content quality

With a CCMS, you never have to wonder whether you are working with the most recent version of a document. As a CCMS stores all technical documentation in one place, you get a complete overview of all content and components. This helps you provide customers with accurate, up-to-date information that is consistent in all formats. Using XML-based structured authoring also ensures that all of your content is structured in the same way, making it easier for technical writers to create and easier for readers to understand.

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Companies improving technical communication with Paligo CCMS

What results can your company achieve by implementing Paligo CCMS? Here are how two companies have improved their technical communication with our centralized, cloud-based CCMS.

Tonkean: Powered by AI, Tonkean helps internal service teams at enterprises, such as procurement and legal, create process experiences that people actually follow. It intelligently orchestrates the intake, triage, and resolution of requests and approvals and is the automation platform of choice for many innovative F500 companies.

As the company’s knowledge base was rapidly growing, including setup and configuration articles, how-to guides, and reference material, it needed a cloud-based technical communication solution for structured content and content reuse. Tonkean now uses Paligo CCMS to create documentation, which is pushed to Github, then published to Amazon S3.

Results: Tonkean now spends 30-40% less time managing technical documentation monthly compared to previous processes.

The best things about Paligo, in my opinion, are the user-friendly UI and authoring flow, the robust content reuse, and the many options for integrations,” – Cody Deitz, Technical Writer at Tonkean.

Cradlepoint: A provider of wireless networking solutions, Cradlepoint specializes in creating routers and wireless edge solutions that help organizations connect and manage their distributed networks. The company focuses on providing solutions for enterprises with distributed and mobile operations, often involving the use of 4G LTE and 5G technologies.

The company creates a lot of technical documentation for its products, which was previously managed in Salesforce Knowledge. The problem was that this documentation was unstructured, with no way to reuse it or easily deliver it to multiple channels. To improve its technical communication, Cradlepoint switched to Paligo, making it easier to reuse content, manage translations, review documentation, and publish in multiple channels.

Results: Paligo’s translation management capabilities enable Cradlepoint to easily put content for 16 languages into translation, send it to an external translation provider, and then import the translated content back into the CCMS.

The ability to know when the translations are out of sync with the English is really important and a fantastic feature! – Kyle Schinkel, Senior Manager for Technical Documentation at Cradlepoint.

Take your technical communication to new levels of efficiency

If your technical communication is siloed, out of date and difficult to manage, it could be time to consider implementing a CCMS. With a CCMS, your technical writing team can work more efficiently, improve the accuracy of content, and spend less time updating and managing versions of documentation.

Your customers will also be able to find the documentation they are looking for, in multiple channels, without your team having to spend too much time on formatting and publishing. Publishing in multiple languages through a CCMS, with less duplication of translation work, can also help you reduce costs while reaching new markets.

Looking to the future, a CCMS will ultimately help you scale your documentation as you scale your business.

Get started with Paligo

Paligo is built to meet the most demanding requirements, with plans made for any company from the growing SMB to the large Enterprise.

Book a demo