Documents organised into a central repository for improved accessibility
Reduce high cost of software ownership by consolidating and simplifying authoring workflows
Convert existing documentation into a shared DITA format
Deliver consistent user experiences for customers and partners
Organised 10,000 guides and documentation in a central repository, facilitating content reuse and improved accessibility
Created customised templates in less than a week to publish PDF and HTML5 files from DITA
Consolidated more than 10 content portals into one for a more unified customer experience
Accelerated publication demonstrated by the ability to publish a 2,000-page document in 20 minutes with DITA-OT engine
As businesses worldwide shift towards remote workforces, the importance of reliable business communications is a crucial topic for many organisations. With more than 70 million users in 100 countries, Mitel is a recognised leader in providing business communications and collaboration solutions.
Mitel strives to make each of its solutions as intuitive and easy to use as possible. The company’s technical writers have created almost 10,000 user guides, technical documentation and other useful information to help customers and partners learn how to set up and use Mitel solutions in any workplace. While a typical document has about 200 pages, some can have up to 2,000 pages, many of which are translated into a dozen languages.
Like many companies, part of Mitel’s growth strategy has involved acquiring other companies. As a result, Mitel’s technical writing team inherited documents, tools and portals used by different companies. Mitel decided to minimise changes to documentation and maintain existing portals to deliver the same experience for existing partners and customers.
“At first, no one worried about having different sources for documentation,” says Ramabhadran P, Senior Manager, Technical Publications at Mitel. “Our technical writing team would update branding and everything else would stay the same. But over time, our documentation environment became much more complicated, making it nearly impossible to scale and maintain.
Technical writers needed specialised training in each authoring tool and script, which included structured Adobe FrameMaker files, FrameMaker scripts, homegrown scripts, MadCap Flare™ and Webworks Publisher. This increased the learning curve for new writers. The differences among tools resulted in inconsistent styles in how documents looked and because content could not easily be shared and reuse among systems, text was often inconsistent as well.
Because some authoring tools used different file management and sharing systems, many technical writers worked from copies of documents stored on their desktops. This not only prevented collaboration between technical writers, but also caused weeks of delays to properly organise and hand over content to a new technical writer.
When Ramabhadran joined Mitel, one of his first assignments was to revamp the documentation process.
“Mitel had seen problems with the disjointed documentation processes,” says Ramabhadran. “We wanted a document authoring and management system that would be simple, centralised and future-proof. We decided that structured DITA content would be the best way to handle authoring documentation now and for the future.”
But deciding on DITA was only half of the solution. Mitel also needed to convert huge volumes of legacy content into DITA to create a unified system. The Mitel technical writing team began looking for a robust component content management system (CCMS) that could meet all their needs.
“We chose Adobe Experience Manager Guides for its robust functionality that would allow us to create, reuse and render content in a single portal,” says Ramabhadran. “We also chose it for its ability to integrate with Adobe FrameMaker and Adobe FrameMaker Publishing Server, which helps streamline our workflow using a familiar FrameMaker interface.”
Senior Manager, Technical Publications, Mitel
One of the major reasons Mitel chose Adobe Experience Manager Guides is its strong support for migrating and rendering content. While the content repository can handle both DITA and non-DITA content, Mitel creates and converts content into DITA. Out-of-box migration workflows allow Mitel to quickly convert Microsoft Word and unstructured Adobe FrameMaker content into DITA format. This was a big win for Mitel as around 70% of its content was created in either Word or FrameMaker.
Adobe Experience Manager Guides also uses two different rendering engines, giving the solution extra flexibility. Originally Mitel planned to use DITA-OT for its rendering engine, as the robust logs allow technical writers to easily debug content. However, implementation was moving slowly because both Mitel and its implementation partner were still new to the DITA-OT method. That’s when Mitel discovered that it could use Adobe FrameMaker Publishing Server as the rendering engine.
“We had originally implemented FrameMaker Publishing Server to help with conversions, but it proved to be the perfect solution for rendering as well,” says Ramabhadran. “Customising the templates for PDF and HTML output works just like creating a normal FrameMaker template. Because the process was quite familiar, it took us less than a week to create templates and start rendering our DITA content into the final format. This process has since been further streamlined.”
With just a few clicks, technical writers could use FrameMaker Publishing Server to publish content as HTML5, PDF, WebHelp or HTMLHelp versions of the DITA content. Output content is automatically copied back into Adobe Experience Manager, where it is stored until it is ready to be published.
While Mitel plans to switch over to DITA-OT for renditions in view of its high speeds, which allows rendering a 2,000-page guide in under 20 minutes, it greatly appreciates the flexibility that Adobe Experience Manager Guides provides.
With Adobe Experience Manager Guides, the Mitel technical writers have a central repository for all technical documentation, including DITA files, DITA Maps and illustrations. This leads to much greater consistency in terms of style, working and customer experience. All technical content is now available on a single portal, eliminating the need for customers or partners to switch among a dozen portals to find the information they need.
Many of the technical writers praised the solution for its ease of use. In particular, the built-in web editor gained many fans. The technical writers liked how they could make edits on-the-fly, making it far easier to keep content up to date. The web editor is simple and easy-to-use, which helped even new technical writers start authoring content quickly and without the need for a great deal of training.
Switching to DITA simplifies the authoring experience by separating content from the display format. This means that technical writers can focus on authoring quality content rather than spend time on adjusting formatting and appearance.
While DITA is tool agnostic, Mitel uses Adobe FrameMaker as its DITA authoring tool of choice. The company is already familiar with FrameMaker and it retains a few pieces of documentation in FrameMaker format. In addition, FrameMaker integrates with Adobe Experience Manager Guides to streamline the authoring workflows even further.
Standardising Adobe Experience Manager Guides provides a centralised platform for not just authoring, but also for reviews and translations. Previously, technical writers needed to export content to PDF and send copies to each department involved in the review. The new platform allows for more collaborative reviews by allowing reviewers to use a web-based interface to submit input and track progress.
“Centralising content management and authoring onto a single platform simplifies operations and encourages more collaboration among technical writers,” says Ramabhadran. “Our technical writers spend less time managing content and more time communicating messages clearly to our customers."
Senior Manager, Technical Publications, Mitel
Mitel appreciated the strong support from Adobe while searching for the new CCMS. During the proof of concept, Mitel extensively tested all of the features in Adobe Experience Manager Guides, including conversion workflows through FrameMaker Publishing Server.
“We test-ran some of our largest guides through the conversion process until we were confident that the Adobe solutions could handle our needs,” says Ramabhadran. “Adobe gives us everything we need to create, manage and publish consistently high-quality content that keeps our customers connected with us and with our solutions.”