Interview with Craig C., Senior System Specialist at one of the largest US independent bottler companies

The main responsibility of Information Operations department in any organization is to make sure everything works as expected. It also makes sure there are no delays in business processes which are so much technology dependent nowadays. And although bringing great benefit, the technology workflows are usually rather complicated. The only way not to get lost and bring down the systems altogether is to create clear instructional documentation. There are different ways to create one, however large enterprises can’t rely on different tools combination. Describing the procedures of technologically complex platforms requires the use of a standalone comprehensive solution which will secure standardization of the documents within a company.

We have had the chance to talk with Craig C., Senior System Specialist, specializing in SAP and Movilizer. He uncovered the challenges and benefits of creating SAP/Movilizer documentation in the large enterprise he works in.

-What does your company use SAP and Movilizer for?
SAP is used for storing customer data, whereas Movilizer – for transferring it to field service technicians’ mobile devices. Having quick and easy access to this info, Service Equipment Group doesn’t lose a minute and provides technical support on time.

-When did the need to document software platforms appeared?
When software platforms were implemented in the company, it was critical that info is easily understandable and accessible for IT specialists who start working with the software. And it was not always the case. Since there was no systematic documentation in place, one should look for the information either in the internet or intranet. This caused the delays in IT and, consequently, business operations. Thus, the decision was to start compiling IT procedural guides which didn’t exist before.

-Did you face any challenges when creating documentation?
There were definitely challenges at first. IT specialists approached the task not having the right instrument in hands. Manuals were being created with the help of Microsoft Word and Snipping Tool built within Windows. It was a slow and time-consuming process, resulting in a big mess with some critical steps being missed. The main pain point was interrupting the workflow to make screenshots. Additionally, SAP and Movilizer company consultants spent too much of working time sharing knowledge on the platforms with IT specialists who actually compiled manuals. The process didn’t feel right and efficient, because a lot of questions were still arising after knowledge sharing sessions took place. So it all turned into constant interruption and distraction for both IT specialists and Subject Matter Experts (SMEs). One month later we started looking for a rapid authoring tool which could ease all our documentation pain and this is how we started using StepShot.

-What do you use manuals for?
Information Systems & Services department creates user manuals for internal accumulation of IT operations knowledge and new hires training.

-What are the benefits of software documentation?
Let me provide you with the example. One of the frequent requests we receive is setting up a new technician in Movilizer. Earlier, processing the request for the first time, an IT specialist would look for bits and pieces of information scattered across the intranet. All in all, it took them about 2, 5 hours to complete the procedure. The difficulty lies in the fact that the workflow consists of large number of steps and it is pretty easy to get lost. Moreover, if you skip a step – you can bring down the whole system. As the result, the whole day can be lost, since technician can’t repair the vending machine on time. Having user manuals in place, now it takes less than an hour and there is a certain confidence the request will be processed successfully.

Having looked into IT documentation processes within several large enterprises, we found some common recurring patterns. Most of the organizations don’t choose documentation tool on a corporate level and employees are left to do this task alone. Before the right tool is chosen, IT specialists spend their working time on the internet search and inefficient documentation creation process. Or documentation isn’t created at all. The latter case is worse since when Subject Matter Experts leave, a company loses their knowledge. Moneywise, this is millions of dollars wasted yearly. Thus, the attention to such detail as the choice of a rapid content development tool can have a big impact. Having the right documentation process in place, companies are seeing the benefits of time-saving, documents standardization, overall operational efficiency increase and knowledge accumulation within the company.