Agile, business critical technical documentation

Imagine your company’s fire alarm sounds. You have been trained in how to use the system, but do you remember exactly what you need to do? A clearly illustrated users guide that is immediately available is an immense help in crisis situations. The partnership between Schneider Electric Fire & Security and Etteplan aims to accomplish just that.

 

 

Schneider Electric Fire & Security is a leading specialist, manufacturer and developer of fire detection and security systems, with 80 years of experience in the security business. The company’s innovative Esmi Fire Detection systems and Esmi Access Control systems protect people, data and property in the Nordic countries, Russia and Central and Southern Europe, to name a few.

Schneider Electric Fire & Security and Etteplan entered into a partnership to develop technical documentation for fire detection systems at the start of 2016. Etteplan provides installation and commissioning manuals, users guides, as well as technical brochures, as a continuous service: the service model includes a joint meeting every two weeks, plus end-to-end technical content production. The texts are produced using the Simplified Technical English (STE) method and the illustrations using the Simplified Technical Illustrations (STI) method. Content management employs the HyperDoc system, which makes it easy to update data that is saved in a structural format in a single location. The groundwork for the project included the compilation of a glossary to harmonize Schneider Electric Fire & Security’s terminology.

“We want to be forerunners in terms of both operational agility and in developing both products and the business. Etteplan’s service model suits us well, as it gives us the agility to produce technical documentation simultaneously while the product is being developed. The end result will be that the users guides will be ready at least at the same time as the product, which will speed up the launch,” says Atte Pihlava, Schneider Electric Fire & Security’s Product Manager, Fire Detection.

“This is a major improvement from before, when our engineers produced the users guides themselves, often right after the product was finished, which could delay the launch. Now our engineers can focus on their core competence, and the quality of our users guides has improved: the texts and illustrations are top-notch,” says Pihlava.

Critical information clearly and quickly

Several target groups make use of the detection system users guides at various stages: stores selling the fire detection systems, fire-safety inspectors, the persons responsible for fire detection systems in companies, possibly lobby personnel and, sometimes, the fire department. It is critical for every target group to be able to find the information they need in the users guide at a moment’s notice and that the instructions they contain are easy to understand.

“Clear and simple instructions make everyone’s work more efficient and they help minimize risks, since installation and maintenance measures can be taken care of as quickly as possible,” says Pihlava.

“This is highlighted when we launch a new product, as it means new procedures and processes for our customers. A big challenge for us is to get the information out to all our target groups in all markets as fast as possible. The instructions must be very clear. Etteplan also translates our users guides into local languages, which means they can be made use of much faster than before.”

Quality documents and experts in the field

Pihlava is pleased with the improved technical documentation process.

“Structure and quality have been added to the process, which is now part of our agile product development. Etteplan’s experts have taken on our systems with astounding speed, and everything is proceeding smoothly,” says Pihlava.

Etteplan will handle all the technical documentation for Schneider Electric Fire & Security’s product development project to be launched in 2017.

“Our expectations are high, but we are also very hopeful: when the documentation is high quality and it is ready on time, it also makes the product launch easier,” Pihlava sums up.