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Technical writers, product managers and process managers – they all work with SCHEMA ST4

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One IT company. Almost 1,000 employees – over 200 of whom regularly use SCHEMA ST4. We have to admit that what Carmen Plösch reported about SSI Schäfer IT Solutions’ use of ST4 at this year’s SCHEMA Conference made us, as the manufacturer, feel a little proud. SSI Schäfer uses our CCMS across departments. It is a core element of their central information processes, which allows it to demonstrate its full potential particularly well. In this post, we have summarised the most important points from her presentation.

From 7 to 35 clients

Ten years ago, SSI Schäfer introduced ST4. As with many of our customers, it was initially intended for the “conventional” purpose of technical writing, as that is where the need for clearly managed content is most obvious. Particularly in a company like SSI Schäfer, which is part of a very documentation-intensive sector with its software and logistics solutions.

SSI Schäfer had seven clients to begin with; a typical setup for large-scale technical writing. Today, 35 clients are in constant use and can be shared by the 200 users thanks to the concurrent user licenses. Incidentally, SSI Schäfer uses the ST4 DocuManager, our standard system with no customer-specific adaptations.

“Conventional” documentation, project management, process management

We have already hinted at the fact that this growth reflects the increasing significance of SCHEMA ST4 outside of technical writing. But where has SCHEMA ST4 established itself in addition to its role as an authoring environment?

That is where the “Customer projects” department comes in. They are responsible for developing the customer-specific adaptations for the WAMAS® warehouse management system, a core task that is closely related to technical writing and, due to the high potential for reutilisation, an obvious candidate for ST4. It is used in a similar way by SSI Schäfer’s training department, WAMAS Campus, whose training handbooks and presentation documents are now managed using SCHEMA ST4.

But where else in the company is there a need for content management? In what other fields are structured and standardised documents created from modules, for which ST4 with its version-management capabilities, media neutrality and traceability is the ideal solution?

With this question in the back of their minds, SSI Schäfer went a step further – into the realm of product management. And so, SCHEMA ST4 is now the management system for release notes and product presentations.

A company like SSI Schäfer can only be successful with properly maintained processes: that is where a QM handbook comes in, the maintenance for which requires its own team in a company of this size. Of course, standardised documents also play a significant role in process management. Templates, checklists, guidelines and work instructions – SSI Schäfer now uses ST4 to manage these documents, which are required in all processes.

ST4 – integrated and well-maintained

But how do they manage with one CCMS as an expert system in such different departments? The presentation demonstrated that this can work very well, if you integrate it systematically right from the start. How did SSI Schäfer IT Solutions achieve this?

At every step towards integration beyond technical writing, those in charge at SSI Schäfer IT Solutions took the time to inform and persuade the heads of departments. Nothing went over their heads. The aim was to garner acceptance. Once the management level was convinced, an introductory project was drawn up and ST4 was introduced following a structured schedule.

When ST4 is anchored so centrally in the information processes, it must trickle down into the process guidelines. And that is exactly the case here: ST4 is always explicitly mentioned in the QM handbook and descriptions of the relevant subprocesses, and so officially forms an integral part of day-to-day operations.

Screenshot of SCHEMA ST4 in use at SSI Schaefer GroupTechnical writers, educators, product and process managers: the breadth of ST4 users at SSI Schäfer IT Solutions is of course very large. The technical writing department holds regular training for all these different roles and tasks. This means integration and acceptance is also ensured at user level.

And if users have questions when working with ST4, they can also contact the technical writing department. The team of six has the most ST4 expertise in the company and handles support requests in addition to their day-to-day activities.

The next step towards integration is on the cards

The integration story is to be continued, as Carmen Plösch revealed at the end of her presentation. There are already plans to roll out ST4 to further subsidiaries across the SSI Schaefer group.

 

Carmen Plösch is a technical writer and coordinator for the cross-departmental use of SCHEMA ST4 at SSI Schäfer IT Solutions GmbH.  Alongside her documentation responsibilities, she is also the contact for all ST4-related topics to do with the WAMAS® warehouse management system within the company. SSI Schäfer IT Solutions employs over 1,000 IT experts worldwide and alongside WAMAS® also develops individual solutions for the intralogistics sector. The company forms part of the SSI Schaefer Group.  

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