Looking for a Documentation automation solution

Subject: Looking for a Documentation automation solution
From: Al Martine <almartine -at- inktopia -dot- net>
To: Techwr-l <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Mon, 7 Nov 2011 08:59:25 -0500

[written on behalf of Ann Waterhouse / AWaterhouse -at- apg-neuros -dot- com, please direct all private messages to her, thanks - Al ]

We are looking for a documentation automation solution. Currently we are working on an Excel spreadsheet as a main data source. My boss would like something automated that would build documentation based on selections made in the spreadsheet (document assembly). As he discussed with me, he worked on a system that created military proposal documentation based on selections made from another system. That essentially created a large `boilerplate` document which could then be tweaked according to requirements. This is what he`s looking for.

He understands the Excel may be on its way out and be eventually replaced by something else; what he would like to know is if there is some software out there that has the capability to create that boilerplate document he is looking for. This solution has to be able to handle large documents (300 – 900 pages; the software I`ve been able to find work primarily on smaller documents such as legal contracts and other business correspondence.

The chosen solution needs to increase efficiency in a very labour intensive process and reduce errors and redundancies. The current process involves individually converting a group of files (Excel, AutoCAD and PDF) into PDF, copying them into a documentation folder, merging them into one large file (400 – 900 pages in either one or two separate volumes) adding PDF files for cover and TOC, sending it to the Project Manager for review and approval and then sending it to the client in print and CD formats. If the client has revisions (which they usually have), the whole process is repeated after changes have been made. This process is often performed more than once until client approval is given.

Solutions should meet the following criteria:

· The ability to create documentation by selecting specific option in an Excel spreadsheet or other media

· The ability to create a manual by combining documents of various formats (XLS, Word, PDF, JPEG, DWG, PPT etc.)

· The ability to generate a cover (optional) and table of contents once the manual has been compiled

· The ability to make changes easily to the manual without the need to re-compile the entire manual. For example, during the revision process the client may request changes to only one document such as an Excel file detailing performance curves

Thank you,

Ann Waterhouse

Senior Technical Writer/Redactrice Technique Principale

O: 450 939-0799 ext: 2135

F: 450 939-2115

Siège Social /Headquarters

1270, Michèle-Bohec

Blainville, QC J7C 5S4



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