Publishing substantial volumes of technical content is a hard grind. In organizations with large teams and complex review workflows, the process can be time-consuming and frustrating. Without robust frameworks to govern the production, review, and reuse of content, creators can end up duplicating effort and introducing inconsistency across different versions and formats.
Ixiasoft is an enterprise-class component content management system (CCMS) that provides an intuitive and centralized collaborative workflow for authors, reviewers, subject matter experts, and translators. It’s Darwin Information Typing Architecture (DITA) compliant, but allows non-technical experts and reviewers to provide feedback without having to learn about XML. Ixiasoft is based in Montreal, Canada, and has offices in Europe and Japan.
Acrolinx’s Vice President of Global Partners and Alliances, Dan Nutburn, spoke to Jean-Marc Robillard, VP Marketing at Ixiasoft, and Chris Carroll, Director of Product Marketing at Acrolinx, on creating polished and personalized technical content.
Dan Nutburn: What does Ixiasoft do and why you do it?
Jean-Marc Robillard: We provide a way for technical content creators to save time and increase efficiency. Our solution allows for a high level of reuse and personalization of similar content in different formats. It also allows technical documentation teams to work together a lot more efficiently than if they were using individual tools such as Microsoft Word.
Efficient reuse of content
Dan: What are the big challenges for technical content creators?
Jean-Marc: Our customers are typically in the software industry, but also medical devices, semiconductors, and heavy manufacturing. They’re typically in large teams or producing a large volume of documentation. These folks tend to need a centrally managed reviewing process so they don’t double up their efforts by working on the same thing as their colleagues.
When subject matter experts normally review content to make sure it’s accurate, they might have to deal with complicated user interfaces – tech writers tend to use tools that are close to what software developers use and aren’t friendly for non-technical people. Our solution solves that problem by providing interfaces that are easy to use for everyone who’s involved in the process of publishing a document, from authoring to reviewing, and then on to publishing it in different formats.
On the publishing side, we have built-in support for Oxygen Publishing Engine, and we also work with partners such as MiramoPDF.
Reduced duplication of effort
Dan: When you talk to prospective customers, what are the success metrics that are top of mind?
Jean-Marc: Our product is relatively premium, but we have many customers who have proven the return on investment in terms of time savings and efficiency. Because fewer people are involved in producing the content, there’s less duplication of effort and the content is easier to find.
Dan: What’s a typical workflow using Ixiasoft and how does it address the challenges we talked about?
Jean-Marc: The best place to start is that our software looks at content as componentized objects. So for example, we can say “This introduction applies to this topic, and it also applies to this topic.” This enables us to fill in the voids in a lot of repetitive documentation.
Even though we don’t directly translate content, our system is made to work with translation software and recognize componentized translated content. This means our technology can recognize when to reuse sections of previously translated content – and the right spots to insert it. Obviously, you’re going to save a lot of time.
Then there’s the authoring process; we provide an interface that’s flexible and easy for authors to use. And reviewers have their own interface, which is a lot quicker and simpler.
Flexible and familiar
Dan: How is Ixiasoft different from other companies that support managing content?
Jean-Marc: Ixiasoft is a pure-play software company. We’re not part of a bigger language services group. So if we’re trying to help a customer optimize their writing or translation process, we’ve got no skin in the game – we’re not trying to sell them language services.
We offer customers a choice of software as a service (SaaS) or on-premises deployment. With either model, our pricing is usage-based and transparent – it’s on our website. Customers aren’t locked into annual licensing and support, and it’s not a capital expenditure.
We use the industry-standard Oxygen XML Editor that most technical writers are familiar with, and that saves a lot of time with onboarding and training.
The quality equation
Dan: How do Ixiasoft and Acrolinx combine to create value for customers?
Chris Carroll: When you’re creating content, Acrolinx is guiding the writer to create content that’s right the first time. It doesn’t need many rounds of revisions. It’s translated correctly and doesn’t cost you thousands of dollars to fix an error after it’s been published. If your business has established guidelines that say “our audience wants things written this way,” we help reinforce them.
We work in an industry where a lot of content is outsourced to contractors and vendors. That means you’re essentially putting your faith in the people writing the content, that they have the skills to achieve the goals you want.
With Acrolinx, you can use automation, scoring metrics, and quality gates on your outsourced content. That gives you 100 per cent visibility to make sure all content meets your quality level. If it doesn’t, it doesn’t go out. That’s a huge risk mitigation.
Dan: How can Acrolinx help with content that’s already been published using Ixiasoft?
Chris: You look at companies that have massive content repositories. This is an intellectual property asset that needs to be maintained and updated so it retains and grows its value.
For example, a lot of companies have implemented inclusive language standards. They’re looking at terminology like “master and slave” when referring to databases or hard drives and replacing it with “primary and secondary.” It’s not a simple find and replace; you can’t run a script. You need multiple humans to find all those assets and manually change them.
With Acrolinx performance analytics, you can prioritize which content needs to be updated to your new standards based on which documents are most used by your customers or audience or by how severely they are misaligned.
Dan: Thanks Jean-Marc and Chris for illustrating how customers can combine Ixiasoft and Acrolinx to deliver high-quality technical content at scale and speed.
Looking to learn more? Here’s what some of our mutual customers have been doing with our technology: