The Hidden Costs of Relying on Docs and Word

November 16, 2023
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In the ever-evolving landscape of technical documentation, policy management, instructional content, and more, technology is an indispensable ally. Sticking to traditional tools like Docs or Word might seem like a comfortable choice, but the hidden costs of doing so are often underestimated. To truly empower your content creation and management processes, it’s time to consider upgrading to a Component Content Management System (CCMS). In this blog post, we’ll explore the drawbacks of clinging to conventional tools and the benefits of embracing CCMS software for structured authoring and content management.

The Drawbacks of Sticking with Docs and Word

Inefficient Content Management

Managing large volumes of technical documentation in Docs or Word documents can quickly become chaotic. Version control issues, document duplication, and inconsistent formatting lead to inefficiencies. Additionally, the process of managing documents can be tedious and time-consuming.

Consider a marketing team working on a crucial product launch. Different team members use Microsoft Word to create and edit documents. They pass files back and forth via email, leading to multiple versions of the same document. As a result, there’s confusion about which version is the most recent, leading to delays and miscommunication.

Some people may raise the point that collaborating in Google Docs eliminates this problem, as everyone is working on the same document. While that may be true, it’s not necessarily the most secure way of handling information that may be sensitive. These days, privacy of customer information is a big concern. So storing sensitive or confidential information in a cloud-based service like Google Docs may raise privacy and security concerns for some organizations.

In both these cases, many organizations use a document management system like SharePoint or GoogleDrive to help facilitate reviewers and sharing. The issue here is that there is usually poor governance about how these documents are managed.

Be it from lack of knowledge on how these tools work, making copies as templates or variations, to losing content in unplanned folder structures, these tools remain highly inefficient.

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Lack of Reusability

Traditional tools are ill-equipped to handle structured authoring, making it difficult to reuse content across different documents. This redundancy leads to increased editing time and the risk of inconsistencies.

In this situation, structured authoring provides a viable solution. By separating structured content into individual components and allowing them to be reused, content can be updated quickly and efficiently. Additionally, the ability to use structured content in different contexts ensures that content stays current and accurate regardless of where it is reused. This is because when a topic (or component) is changed in one place, it instantly updates in every place the topic has been reused. With the amount of time saved, businesses can reduce their costs of document maintenance while improving the quality of their documents.

For example, in a recent case study with Phrase, Mike McGuffie, Technical Information Specialist, is trying to expand the Paligo documentation software to other departments in the workplace because of the huge amount of time saved:

“Phrase recently renamed a couple of products. McGuffie made the change in Paligo and published it in five minutes. The marketing team, whose content is published in formats such as MS Word, PDF, and so on, had a much more difficult time trying to find every place they needed to make the change and then perform it. Paligo’s ability to publish content to many channels and formats is a huge benefit.”

Limited Multi-Channel Publishing

Docs and Word are primarily designed for print or online use. This limits the ability to easily repurpose content for different channels and formats. In both, formatting is typically applied manually and can be highly specific to the intended output. For instance, if you’re formatting a document for print, you might optimize it for a physical page size. If you’re creating an online document, you might format it for web readability. This rigid formatting makes it challenging to seamlessly repurpose content for different channels without considerable reformatting and adjustment.

For companies operating in multiple regions or serving global markets, localization of content for languages, regions, or regulations is a crucial aspect of content creation. In Docs and Word, this process can be cumbersome. You may need to manually manage versions of the same document for each locale. Structured authoring documentation software with both translation features and multichannel publishing, on the other hand, can significantly streamline the entire process.

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Image by Freepik

The Benefits of Upgrading to CCMS Software

Now we move on to the remarkable benefits of upgrading to CCMS software.  Let’s shed some light on how this modern documentation software elevates content creation, management, and delivery, setting a new standard for efficiency and quality. Embracing CCMS software is not merely an upgrade; it’s a strategic move towards a more agile, cost-effective, and competitive future for your content operations.

Structured authoring in a single source

Structured authoring enables you to break down your content into concise parts, which makes it simpler to reuse and modify information. This technique uses a predetermined structure, or components, to create structured content. The author can then devote more attention to the content instead of to the layout. This content can consist of things like manuals, knowledge-based websites, articles, etc.

When one creates content in a modular format, it makes it easy to find and edit specific sections. By keeping content in a single source, it is more manageable. In addition, searching for particular information is made simpler due to the unified structure. It’s also more convenient to modify and refine pieces of structured content according to need, since content storage is in one spot. Reusing content in various formats saves time while also making sure technical documentation is both precise and uniform.

For example, if a company offers a vast array of educational content, sourcing the content information would involve multiple authors and subject matter experts working on different contributions independently. Without CCMS software, where contributors can work from the same source, content is spread across separate documents, spreadsheets, and cloud storage locations. There are version control issues as well, since more than one person may be working on the same topic. They may be creating multiple files without an easy way to know which is the most current.

Because a CCMS software system supports collaborative authoring, review, and approval processes, it provides a clear audit trail of changes and enables team members to work together seamlessly.

Standardizing content

Documentation in CCMS software leads not only to content reusability, but also consistency, reducing the risk of errors in technical documentation. Additionally, CCMS software improves the efficiency of content updates and the ability to respond to regulatory changes in a timely manner.

Having CCMS software in place ensures that complex technical documentation is managed and maintained effectively. By segmenting topics into components and allowing for content reuse, companies can reduce the complexity of making uniform updates to their technical documentation. This is particularly important in industries such as medicine, finance, and manufacturing, as regularly updated compliance and regulations must be adhered to, especially when the company operates in multiple markets. By doing this, the risk of errors is minimized as alterations in a single component can be quickly and easily replicated elsewhere.

Cost Savings in the Long Run

While there may be an initial investment in implementing CCMS software, the long-term benefits include reduced operational costs, increased efficiency, and higher-quality technical documentation.

Content teams can work more efficiently with CCMS software, as they can collaborate in real time, efficiently manage content components, and implement automated workflows. This efficiency means faster content production and shorter review and approval cycles, saving both time and labor costs.

So, while implementing CCMS software may require an initial investment, the long-term benefits are substantial. Reduced operational costs, increased efficiency, and higher-quality content contribute to significant cost savings over time. The return on investment in CCMS software becomes clear as organizations experience streamlined content processes, lower content-related labor expenses, and enhanced technical documentation quality, ultimately resulting in a more cost-effective and competitive content strategy.

Keep a competitive edge and focus on productivity

As the demand for well-structured and easily managed content continues to rise, it’s essential to consider the long-term costs of sticking with Docs and Word for technical documentation authoring, policy management, instructional content, and more. The drawbacks of using traditional tools, such as inefficient content management, limited collaboration capabilities, and reduced reusability, can significantly impact your organization’s productivity and competitiveness.

Embracing CCMS software offers a powerful solution to these challenges. With structured content authoring, efficient content management, and multi-channel publishing, CCMS software not only enhances content quality but also provides a seamless workflow for your content creation team. The initial investment is outweighed by the long-term benefits of streamlined operations and a competitive edge in the market.

Don’t let the hidden costs of outdated tools hold you back. Make the shift to CCMS software and unlock the full potential of your content creation and management processes. Your business, customers, and bottom line will thank you for it.