System Operations Company Implements Comprehensive Online Content and Training Guide System Using Doc-To-Help

Georgia System Operations Corporation (GSOC), an operation that manages electricity demands from generation to transmission, relies heavily on technical documentation for their data systems. The technical documentation team in the systems and settlements department at GSOC was tasked with developing the company’s online user and training guides.

In conjunction with the software development team at GSOC, the documentation team set out to find a way to create and manage online content that is easily accessible by all company employees. Once GSOC identified their top priority projects they researched tools that would help them produce the documentation they needed. After researching the technical communication industry, GSOC chose Doc-To-Help, a popular solution for publishing professional-quality user manuals and Help systems, as it provided the integrations GSOC needed for their projects.

The first project using Doc-To-Help that GSOC created was a web based Data Portal that provides data reports and interactive workflow processes, and uses a database platform for managing user membership and report data. The browser-based Help system, hosted on SharePoint, features a large interactive Glossary that informs new users of proprietary company terminology, and a library of images that illustrate a variety of Data Portal functions. Doreen Marson, a technical documentation specialist at GSOC stated that, “The Data Portal’s Help was being handled manually and contributing subject matter experts from various departments were maintaining their own hard copy manuals.”

“By using Doc-To-Help, Help now is integrated into the application. Thanks to Doc-To-Help we now have a centralized approach for managing all Data Portal Help Content (manual, user guide, procedures, etc.) generated by document creators/SMES from various departments,” said Marson. “This lessens the possibility that required updates are missed or that outdated information remains within that content. Content is consistent across the companies’ groups and departments. Plus, the entire Data Portal Online Help is single-sourced using Doc-To-Help, allowing GSOC’s technical documentation team to author in Microsoft Word, manage project reviews using SharePoint, and publish to a SharePoint web server, PDF, and Help for mobile devices.”

Next on the project list was to create an Image Library to illustrate a variety of GDP functions. GSOC was finding it difficult to maintain and update images, plus it was hard to manage them separately across projects. With Doc-To-Help’s use of file naming by Data Portal topic names and keywords, GSOC created a new linked library which saves screen real estate, reuses content (across all Doc-To-Help builds), and optimizes the project for mobile. Marson shared that, “As the image library grows, we’ve gained the ability to differentiate them further and are reaping the benefits of having a carefully planned image library structure.”

After the Image Library, GSOC set out to develop and implement a company-wide utility industry glossary of terms, drawn from many sources to promote group understanding of acronyms, terms and definitions to be used throughout the Family of companies. It was formerly maintained as a series of paper documents, separately updated by each company. By using Doc-To-Help for this project, GSOC was able create a single source glossary that is now searchable and updated online, transparently to the Members and Associates. The glossary integrates with other Doc-To-Help projects and is also accessible standalone. “Company executives and employees were pleased that all remote sites can now access the glossary and it is always up to date,” said Marson.

The final of the four main projects, was to develop and implement a robust content management process in Doc-To-Help. The goal was to help users find content they needed from various proprietary applications using an existing Doc-To-Help project for content integration and mapping and SharePoint Document Library for workflows and source control. The problem that had to be addressed was that employees did not know what applications and processes existed within the company. It was solved through the creation of the member portal which serves as the central interface for all of these applications and sites. Users can now browse or search through a list of content topics from various applications and sites.

With so many of the features of Doc-To-Help being used in various ways, GSOC is leveraging all of Doc-To-Help’s strengths to make their work flow run smoothly and to improve their documentation. Marson shared that, “Our documentation has improved immensely. I came out of an environment where we used Word, Visio and PowerPoint and there was never any collaboration between them, and the navigations were never easy. With Doc-To-Help the navigation is there and I use NetHelp, which gives us a more browser-based look and feel.”

Most recently GSOC has been creating new designs and themes. They have been able to use Doc-To-Help’s Theme Designer to style the “skin” that surrounds their online Help content. With several of the pre-defined themes that are included for each Target in Doc-To-Help, GSOC has found it easy to find the theme perfect for their needs.

GSOC plans to next take advantage of Doc-To-Help’s latest feature, the ability to automatically generate outputs with features that would otherwise require advanced development skills. GSOC, like many other companies, is moving quickly toward mobile platforms. Marson noted that she has the upper hand because Doc-To-Help will automatically generate Responsive NetHelp, a web-based output that automatically adjusts itself to screen size. “I am not a developer, so that is a huge help,” said Marson.

Doc-To-Help has truly created the most comprehensive product to serve all devices and platforms, thus avoiding the need to maintain individual sites while saving bandwidth,” said Marson. “If you can master Word you can easily use Doc-To-Help.”

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About Dan Beall

Dan is a 15-year veteran of the software industry with experience including from web development, technical writing, marketing, and product management. Since 2003, he has worked on the Doc-To-Help team as a product manager. Most recently, he has used his experience to put Doc-To-Help on the path to be the go-to tool for web content delivery in the technical communication and administration industries. Today, Dan is responsible for the general marketing and position of ComponentOne’s entire portfolio of products.

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