How Author-it & Lionbridge reduced costs and increased efficiency for Philips Personal Health

The translation and localization process can be complicated.

A non-optimized process can have negative implications on quality, speed, and efficiency. Philips Personal Health, a division of Philips Global, struggled with these very factors in the creation, translation, and publication process of its Directions for Use (DFUs).

The Goal

Philips set an overarching goal: to make the overall DFU creation process 25% more efficient. Five goals supported this objective:

  • Reduce the number of changes made during the DFU creation process

  • Increase standardization and reuse to shorten lead times, meet deadlines more readily, and reduce translation work and spend

  • Reduce resources spent on the review process

  • Gain efficiency at publication

  • Improve the reliability and efficiency of the documentation system

The Solution

To meet these ambitious goals, Philips worked with Lionbridge and Author-it. Philips needed a language service provider that could integrate seamlessly with Author-it, thereby streamlining the translation process and creating efficiencies through increased automation and centralization. Lionbridge was that partner.

The Results

Together, Lionbridge and Author-it met Philips’ goals. The company has realized a value of 188% of its translation spend and reduced translation costs by 40%.

How did they do it? Read our case study and find out!

It’s time to switch to component authoring.

By: Ryanne Rosenlund

You’re a technical writer and you’ve got a documentation system: Microsoft Word.

Word has always been there for you - that bright white blank canvas with a blinking cursor feels like home when you set out to write. The headings, the fonts, the interface, the formatting. Even the review tools. You’ve been using it for years, maybe even decades, and you know it through and through. Sure, it has its issues and it’s not very efficient for co-authoring and sharing with teams, but it works for you, and the last thing you want to think about right now is disrupting that system and learning a new one.

You’re too busy. It will take too much time. Your brain is already full. It’s confusing.

Moving from familiar to new when you have a “system” is daunting. There’s no doubt about it. But what if that move will ultimately save you time and frustration and allow a level of collaboration that you’ve never experienced before? What if you could update a change – a new logo, a header, a paragraph or just a word - one time, and publish that change to multiple outputs and channels at once, instead of the search and find routine you’re used to? This is component authoring.

Component authoring simplifies content creation, management and publishing processes by removing the obstacles that come with managing multiple versions of marked up documents, stored in silos throughout the organization.

 With component authoring, your content is broken down at a granular component level into objects, stored within a Component Content Management System (CCMS), and organized by topic.

Here’s an example: your firm has been audited and as a result, a portion of the legal disclaimer required on all corporate communication has changed. Normally, someone on your team would have to make those adjustments on all associated documents and outputs (PDFs, presentations, user guides, etc.) for multiple orgs. This makes compliance very risky, leaves room for inconsistency, and paves the way for trouble.

But with component authoring, you go to one place to change that one object and publish to all outputs with one click. You author at the component level – not the document level.

 And, boom. You’re done! Plus, you’re organized, compliant and worry-free, which means you have time to move on to that next project. Once you’re done being celebrated by your team, of course. You’re the new content hero!

Now, what about the multitude of existing files you and your team have already written? Do you have to start from scratch if you migrate?

The answer is a resounding no. You can easily import, organize and store your existing data directly into our CCMS, breaking it down into objects for simplified use.

Do you need to know XML or DITA? Nope.

Do you like XML or DITA? That’s great! You can still use it, but it’s not required. Either way, the Author-it Cloud platform will work for you.

Content creation is a process. But it shouldn’t be a dreaded one. Author-it Cloud creates freedom and synergy within that process and takes the complexity, worry and burden out of documentation. We break down silos and help bring content to life.

To learn more about Author-it’s collaborative, all-in-one component authoring, content management and publishing solution, Request a Demo.

We've been too silent!


Good things are happening.

We promise.

Good things have been happening here at Author-it, and it we want to share them with you.

Our goal is to create positive change in the lives of our clients by helping you bring content to life. And in order to achieve that goal, we’ve had our heads down working diligently to improve both our product and our communications with you.

So, let’s talk product. The next major release, Author-it 7, will focus on what you’ve told us really matters: stability, efficiency, performance and security. Further UX improvements and more visually appealing interfaces will follow in subsequent releases, but here are a few examples of what we will be rolling out next quarter:

  • Improved performance - bug fixes, enhanced security practices and tighter infrastructure

  • New cross browser web authoring client - built for simplicity, ease of use and collaboration

  • Review improvements –based on user feedback, editorial has merged into the main authoring client, streamlining the review process

  • Magellan – an HTML5 Web Help and documentation site –A modern, responsive and highly-functional web-based help output for publishing your content.

Now, let’s talk communication. Going forward we are committed to keeping you informed, educated and in the loop. So committed, in fact, that we’ve expanded our team – from developers to marketing communications, to bringing back our founder, Paul Trotter, whom you’ll be hearing from very soon.

Our commitment to our clients is to keep the lines of communication open, which means we want to hear from you, too. We need your comments, suggestions and feedback so we can evolve as an organization and improve our products and services. We can’t do it without you, and quite frankly we don’t want to.

So, reach out to us at
The Author-it Software Team

The Inside Scoop on the Best Content Strategy, Part 3: Content Strategy with Author-it

Welcome back to our series on content strategy.

In part one, we learned what a component content strategy is. In part two we discussed the risks and benefits for creating a strategy. Now, I will share the best practices on implementing your component content strategy with Author-it.

In order to capture the authentic thought leadership behind these practices, I spoke to our very own expert, Tom Erber, Director, Content Strategy at Author-it. Tom’s expertise began when he managed a team using Author-it at HP. He designed a content strategy that resulted in over 80% reuse! Now, he is sharing that knowledge by designing and implementing component content strategies for some of the largest companies around the world. The following paragraphs summarize my discussions with Tom.


What is Author-it’s secret ingredient?

As we know from past blogs and our white paper on Why Components components are core to Author-it. These chunks of information are critical because they liberate writers from the symbolic chains of documents.

However, the challenge with changing from a document-based paradigm to that of components is in how you manage, hundreds, thousands or even millions of components that make up your documentation. The secret is the relational database that manages all of the relationships between components, allowing writers to quickly find and reuse existing content.

In one case study, an organization was challenged to produce a 100-document project with 50,000 words and translated into 7 different languages. The chart below shows that by utilizing a relational component strategy, the company was able to reduce the costly authoring processes by 81%.

Additionally, compared to traditional authoring processes, relational content strategies can provide organizations with an 80% improvement in content quality and consistency with a 28% improvement in time to market execution.

To mimic these results, consider the following best practices:

Best Practices with Author-it

Component Integrity

Maintaining the integrity of information is important. Whether the content is restricted for legal or regulatory purposes, or perfectly written, reviewed and translated, you probably don’t want people to tamper with the content after it has been released. If you are using an unprotected folder structure that allows a variety of people to access it, you could be jeopardizing your work.

Author-it’s folder structure enables user & group security through Folder Action Permissions. Folder Action Permissions determine which actions a user can take with the components in a particular folder. For example, all users may be able to create content in a particular folder, but only certain users can edit, and only the creator can delete a component. Security can also be ensured with the workflow functionality in Author-it called “release states”. For example, in the “Draft” release state, you can set it up so that all users can edit, but once in the “Released” state, the information is locked. Ultimately, this helps ensure the security and integrity of your information for compliance, consistency and future reuse.


Consider the process for most organizations of authoring, reviewing and publishing: the initial inputs are from many authors, the review team is usually made up of different subject matter experts (SMEs), and the published output has to accommodate a variety of audiences. With all the variations and new inputs throughout the content’s lifecycle, even highly organized workflows can present opportunities for mistakes and bottlenecks.

However, working in Author-it allows workflows to be monitored and managed throughout the entire process. Authors are able to assign specific SME reviewers to specific components, thus controlling who is able to edit and review the content.  Now, the product team is able to reuse a component that the SME helped collaborate on, ensuring accuracy and consistency. This process can reduce the SME’s time by 50% and increase the quality and consistency by 100% because there is a single source for each component.

Relational Reuse

Remember, Author-it’s secret ingredient is the relational database. This is the key to achieving 70-90% reuse.

Because components are managed in a relational database you are able to quickly find and reuse components when you are creating new documents. Simply insert the already written component into your document and move on to the next section. Even better, Author-it Xtend is a patented feature within Author-it that intelligently suggests similar or identical components as you are writing. So instead of searching the database for a component, the component comes to you. It’s easy to see how this greatly saves time, maintains consistent messaging and ensures compliance.


At the conclusion of this three part blog series, you can look back and understand how important a content strategy is. With Author-it, a content strategy can be effectively established and managed throughout the entire company. From components, to your finished published outputs, it is a solution with the world’s content problem in mind.

Check out our website to learn how you can work with us to start designing your Author-it Component Content Strategy today!

The Inside Scoop on the Best Content Strategy, Part 1

I am a small business. I do not have hundreds of writers or multitudes of reviewers that large companies have. I use Microsoft Word; I email versions of documents for my colleagues to review – one after the other; and I store my finished documents on a file system or Dropbox, or sometimes even on my local machine! This is my content strategy and it works for my business albeit sometimes it is hard to find things.

If, however, you are an enterprise and you do have many writers and reviewers, and you are using a content strategy like mine, you have a problem. A BIG Problem! And this problem will manifest itself as huge inefficiencies, wasted time and inconsistent content.

But don’t fret, you’re not alone – the whole world has a content problem! This is because many enterprises use a strategy like mine, instead of a unified enterprise content strategy. I decided to research this topic more fully and here is what I have learned about what a content strategy is, and more specifically, what a component content strategy is.


What is a component content strategy

According to Rahel Ann Bailie of Language of Content Strategy, a content strategy is “The analysis and planning to develop a repeatable system that governs the management of content throughout the entire content lifecycle”. In other words, it’s what allows your company to create content assets in an efficient and sustainable way that is true to your brand. A data sheet? No problem.  A complimentary information bulletin? A breeze! A highly regulated, mission critical, no-excuses-for-mistakes submission? Not even a drop of sweat! And this is because of the component part of your strategy.

A component is a piece, or chunk, of information. Think of it as the text between two headings. Components can also be images, graphics or hyperlinks and they are designed to be reused. Think of components as parts in a car assembly plant. The car manufacturer is able to reuse the same parts in multiple vehicles, which saves time and enhances efficiency. Or think of your company’s address as a component. That single piece of information is used in almost every document. So instead of typing it over and over again, why not reuse it?

Now you may be thinking, “I already reuse content, I just copy and paste”. This is not the same. In fact, it highlights the very problem that components solve. When you copy and paste content, you are creating multiple versions of the same content. These versions can be changed independently of each other, thereby creating inconsistencies. This dramatically increases the risk of information being incomplete, out of date, or simply wrong.

Now that we understand components, we can create an equation for our strategy: If components (A) are included in a content strategy (B) then the result is a component content strategy (C) that becomes a solid foundation to execute on all content activities (A+B=C).

In fact, according to Content Strategy Expert, Tom Erber, implementing a component content strategy can result in reuse statistics in excess of 80%! This level of reuse drives large efficiency improvements, reduces costs and can drive top line revenue through faster time to market.


Best Practices

Definitions and statistics are great, but what we really want to know is HOW do you start to develop your content strategy?

What I have learned is everyone has their opinion of what should go into a strategy. But the items I have seen repeatedly are:

  1. Content Reuse

  2. Taxonomy

  3. Delivery

  4. (and of course, Feedback)

Content Reuse

In order to successfully reuse your content, you must first understand the content you create, how you use it, and who is reading it. This also forces the question: Where can you reuse your content? With components, content is much easier to reuse. Simply search in the component database and insert the component you want to use. This makes creating content much easier and faster. But now you are asking, “How do I search for it?”


Organization of your content is not only convenient but crucial to the findability of components. And crucial to the organization of your content is its taxonomy.

Tom Eber explains that taxonomy is like a grocery store, in which the products are your components. The products are first categorized by context and then sub-categorized by application and type. For example, if you walk into the grocery store looking for brown sugar you will first walk to the baking aisle, then find the sugar section, and then select the brown sugar. But if the sugar was organized by the toilet paper, you would never find it! Let’s say the grocer couldn’t find it either. They would reorder the sugar every time someone needed it. Think of how many bags of sugar they would end up with just because it was poorly located.

With content, this process wastes resources because writers recreate existing content, over and over, reinventing the wheel so to speak.

So, make sure the organization of your components is logical to your organization and is adopted by everyone involved in your content development process.


The most important aspect of content delivery is your audience. Content needs to be delivered, when they want it and how they want to consume it. Often we are required to produce content that has the same messaging but needs to be altered for the different audiences. So what do you do?

You become an expert on the delivery requirements of your audience or customer. Each audience has their own requirements on presentation, language, style, etc. If you know the requirements well enough, you will be able to see overlaps. Once you find commonalities, you can create consistent formats and outputs that ensure scalability.


Having a feedback system is not only a best practice, but it is common sense. Any strategy, be it content or general business, must include a feedback process to ensure that it is on track.

For a content strategy, this will be managed by three groups.

  • First, the executive sponsors that assesses the business value add, the costs, and the value propositions of the strategy. Their input and feedback is vital to support your project and the content strategy.

  • Second, the core team that determines where the value is. This will be in areas including component architecture, workflow, process, and localization. Eventually, this group will become the “content police”, ensuring your content strategy is followed after implementation.

  • And third but most importantly, is your audience or customer. Their feedback helps you to understand if your content and strategy is delivering on its goals. It also provides a continuous feedback loop to improve your content and its delivery.



In conclusion, I may only be a small business, but I can certainly understand that if A+B does not equal C; if the sugar is with the toilet paper; and if the feedback is not in place, then I’d definitely need a better content strategy.

3 Best Practices for Better Translation Result

Author: Susie Wynn, Lead Product Consultant at Author-it
First Published by
Interpro - Translation Solutions



One of the greatest benefits of using a translation memory system (TMS) is reuse; translate your content once into multiple languages and then leverage that asset for other projects later. If you’re already using a TMS, you know that these tools offer sophisticated functionality: you set the parameters to factor context into the word matching, program custom segmentation, conduct quality checks on the translation, etc., and the TMS does the work.

As effective as TMS tools are, their performance relies heavily on what happens with the content before it gets to translation, primarily in the content creation stage. Authoring practices and content creation methods have an enormous impact on localization success: affecting quality, time, and/or cost.

Not surprisingly, many companies struggle with these common localization pain points: slow turnaround times, quality problems in translated content, and the high cost of the entire process. You can greatly mitigate these issues by optimizing content at the authoring stage. We’ve all heard the adage, “garbage in, garbage out,” but the opposite is also true: improve the source content and you improve localization.

By following just a few best practices during the authoring process, you begin to see how achieving quality in the source content produces better results in translation. At the top of the list are: following a glossary of approved terminology; applying style guide rules; and adopting a content management system (CMS) to manage your content.

Writers can increase consistency if they use a glossary of approved terminology in their content, especially if there are multiple teams — some of whom are nonnative English speakers. Poor writing is often the result  of multiple and inconsistent language structures, vocabulary, and syntax. For example, should we “begin,” “start,” or “commence” an activity? Should your published content exist on a “website,” a “web site” or a “web page?” Do you prefer internet to be spelled “Internet?” “Email” or the antiquated “e mail?”  

Many hands contributing to the content bring the risk of unnecessary variation. Having lots of options makes colorful prose in fiction novels, but in the business of localization, consistency is preferable. Using a glossary of preferred terms ensures that your writers reach this consistency. 

The bottom line is that word choice plays heavily in the success of the eventual translation. If the goal in localization is to optimize word matching with the TMS, then variation quickly erodes the 100% matches residing in the company’s translation memory databases. Remember that 100% matches in translation produce a faster turnaround time, considerably lower costs, and improved overall quality through consistency.

Applying style guide rules during the authoring stage also improves the quality of both source content and the corresponding translation. To illustrate the power of a style guide, consider this common phrase: 

Please call the System Admin if more information is required.

Using this example, let’s apply a few basic style guide rules. 
• Condition precedes action
• Remove passive voice
• Remove unnecessary words
• Apply approved terminology  

When we apply these rules, along with the glossary of terms, we end up with a sentence that looks more like this:

For more information, contact your system administrator.

For one Fortune 500 company, a content audit found that this simple phrase appeared in 98 different variations in their content. This meant that each time they translated their content, this string of words fell short of a 100% match in their TMS — adding time and cost to the localization cycle.

Driving quality into the content creation process brings us to the third recommended best practice, using a content management system (CMS) to store and manage your content. Similar to a TMS, a CMS stores content for future use: write once and reuse everywhere. Because you’re going to write the content only once and reuse it repeatedly, use your glossary and style guide to optimize content the first time. 

However, not all CMS tools are created equally. While they all store reusable content and maintain the ability to publish to various output formats, some store content at a granular level: component content management systems (CCMS). For example, consider the system administrator sentence above. With a CCMS, you’re able to store this sentence as a reusable unit on its own — separate from the section or module in which it appears. This approach provides a much more flexible system, which yields significantly higher reuse rates than a standard CMS.

When you combine the power of a CCMS with a TMS, you get the best of both worlds in the area of recycled content: authoring reuse and translation reuse. Add the glossary and style guide tools into content creation and the quality of both the source and target languages improves. Employing all three of these methods leads to sending fewer words to translation and achieving a higher quality result — all with faster turnaround times and lower overall cost.

How Do I Turn My Technical Content into Educational Content?

Guest blogger, Alynda Brown has advice for trainers who need to convert their technical content into educational content.

Technical content into educational content

You have a full library of technical material to support your new product offer. How can you use this resource to build an educational offer?

A good deal of the existing content can be reused – perhaps up to 90% of it could be reused over a curriculum spanning several training courses. However, if educational material is going to be created then the final content of a single training course won’t be 90% of the existing material. How much of it can be used depends on several factors.

Educational material is driven by the needs of the audience. The role of the Instructional Designer is to pluck out the relevant material for each course from the existing library and use that as a basis for building content that meets the learning objectives for each audience.

Step one: Define your target audience

The first step in Instructional Design is to define your target audience(s). The design of courses cannot take place until the learning needs of each audience are specified. An audience that is interested in sales is different to the support team. When building an educational program each audience type must be clearly defined.

Step two: Define the learning objectives of your target audiences

Next the learning objectives for each audience should be defined. The purpose of any training course is to change the behaviour of the student. When planning a training course there should be a very clear understanding of the behaviours that need to be changed. When these behaviours are determined they are then phrased as behaviours that can be observed. For example, learning objectives for a sales audience may be:

By the end of this training course the student will be able to:

  • Recommend the correct product for use in a high temperature environment
  • List the unique value proposition for each of the target markets
  • Deliver a sales presentation for a new customer

If the audience is going to be the technical support team the objectives may be:

By the end of this training course the student will be able to:

  • Answer the most common support questions from inexperienced users of our products
  • Explain to the customer how the financial accounting for an inventory replenishment purchase has been determined
  • Describe how the product is used to process a sales order for a batch controlled product

When the Learning Objectives for each course are defined these will help to determine the best type of medium to use for the course or courses. There are many different media that are available such as:

  • PDFs for Instructor Led Training
  • Instructor Guides and Presentations
  • Self-Paced in the form of eLearning and mobile learning material

In this blog we're focusing on self-paced eLearning and mobile learning as this is an opportunity for valuable reuse.

Step three: Review available material

When the needs of each audience has been analysed the Instructional Designer is then able to review all the existing content within the library to determine which material can be reused and tailored into courses that will focus on achieving the learning objectives.

Step four: Develop your training

A good library of technical content will provide a solid foundation for the educational content. Now is the time to source material to build the entire course/curriculum, and where appropriate update your organizations technical content library.

At this point experienced Instructional Designers will be starting to think about concepts such as "chunking" - or how to break the topic down into the best size for learning. With chunking strategies in play you can often make better reuse of existing material and it will impact positively on your learner’s experience.

Step five: Publish your training

Look for a system that allows you to readily template your training. As an Instructional Designer you want to focus on building the educational content. 

Standard templates allow an Instructional Designer to build courses using the format that is expected in all SCORM compliant Learning Management Systems. These include templates to create:

  • Synchronous and asynchronous navigation
  • Voice over content complete with closed captions
  • Flip books
  • Linked popups
  • Quizzes and assessments

Templates should provide some structure to the design of your online training and yet they are flexible enough to allow the Instructional Designer scope for their creativity.


The needs of your audiences are the best guide to developing your educational content. Good processes will help you to create new content while making the best use of your existing material. As a trainer in a company with a full library of technical content, look for ways to automate and template the conversion to educational content.

Information on Author-it Honeycomb

Author-it Honeycomb is responsive HTML5 elearning/mobile learning output that reuses content components from technical documentation, operating procedures, and other business critical information and automatically creates interactive self-paced training material. Create and publish high quality learning content in hours, not weeks, by tapping into the value of your existing content and delivering elearning, mobile-learning, micro-learning and assessments based on common templates. Request a Consultation to learn how you can leverage the power of your existing documentation.


Information on Alynda Brown

Alynda Brown has over 25 years experience in the Education industry, specialising in Instructional Design for blended learning, IT and Process Automation. She is currently consulting in the area of building educational content, teaching documentation teams to maintain content and delivering Train the Trainer courses for product professionals

Translation, Localization, Internationalization and Transcreation

Depending on their nationality these women may be playing a game known by very different names.

Depending on their nationality these women may be playing a game known by very different names.

What are they and how are they different?  

Our resident localization expert, Susie Winn, explains what each term means, using the international language of football. If you've got indepth localization issues you're trying to solve, you can contact Susie and our localization team by using the Request Consultation button above. 

Translation – the process of changing words and text from one language into another
Example of translation: 

  • UK English — A Swedish company makes football uniforms for women's teams. 
  • Swedish — Ett svenskt företag tillverkar fotboll uniformer för damlag. 

But translation is just the start of customizing content. 

Localization – the adaptation of a product or service to meet the needs of a particular language, culture or desired population's "look-and-feel".

Example of text localization: 

  • Swedish — Ett svenskt företag tillverkar fotboll uniformer för damlag. 
  • US English — A Swedish company makes soccer uniforms for women's teams. 

The difference between translation and localization:  
The word "fotboll" in Swedish translates to "football" in English. But in this case, the word is localized for the American market (or locale). 

Internationalization – the process of planning and implementing products and services so that they can easily be adapted to specific local languages and cultures. 

Examples of internationalization: 
A website contains the marketing phrase, "Our jerseys will blow you away!"  
In a literal translation, the expression "blow you away" frightened some potential customers who believed the apparel actually contained explosives. The text didn't transfer well across languages, resulting in costly errors and linguistic rework. The company decides to eliminate all idiomatic expressions so the translation process is easier and less error-prone. 

Transcreation – the process of adapting a message from one language to another, while maintaining its intent, style, tone and context. The phrase has historically been used by advertising and marketing professionals looking to transfer the meaning of a message into a new language without losing intended meaning. 

Example of Transcreation: 

  • Original Swedish text: These uniforms are so amazing that everybody on the field will feel like a winner. They're the top! 
  • US English version: These uniforms are so amazing that your team will win every time. They're the best! 


For help with your next localization project - use the Request Consultation button above. We look forward to hearing from you.

3 Challenges Developing Medical Information and What You Can Do About Them

Medical information (MI) groups fulfill a vital function in creating and disseminating trusted clinical and scientific information to healthcare professionals and patients. Through these activities MI professionals see the opportunity to interact with their customers, share insights and gain valuable feedback on products in market.

The practice of developing and delivering MI needs to be accurate, efficient and timely. It also needs to be able to address the varying needs of global markets in terms of regulatory differences and localization including translation, for the specific market.

Over the past few years the Author-it team has had the opportunity to meet with MI groups at many of the leading Pharma. What is surprising is how consistent the problems are that we see in MI and unsurprisingly, how motivated these groups are to address the issues they face. The following describes the top three challenges we have seen and what you can do about them.

Challenge 1 – Slow and Inefficient Authoring Processes

Delivering MI is a complex and exacting process. It involves bringing together information from a huge range of sources including clinical reports, dossiers, labels, safety docs and many more. Simply finding the right information is challenging enough but then it has to be encapsulated into MI such as standard response documents that then must be made available via multiple channels such as Call Centers, MI portals or Field Medical teams. To add to the complexity, new customer queries require custom responses to be developed, reviewed, approved and delivered in a timely fashion.

Key to the MI authoring process is the ability to quickly and easily find and reuse trusted information. Unfortunately this is not an easy task. Information is stored in a myriad of point solutions throughout the organization. If the required information is found, verifying its accuracy becomes the next challenge. Often multiple inconsistent versions of the same information are discovered and these must be checked and verified. Once verified, your only option to reuse the information is copy and paste creating multiple versions of the same content. If the information is not found, then you have to rewrite it, perpetuating the cycle.

Bottom line, the speed and accuracy of MI is compromised by the systems and processes that MI professionals must use.

Challenge 2 – Think Global, Act Local

Delivering MI to global markets requires country specific versions and localization. Almost universally, MI functions have poor bi-directional visibility between regions of how MI is re-purposed for each market. This makes it near impossible to verify consistency of MI between global and regional groups. Localization is a slow and expensive process that can add considerable time onto MI release or update schedules.

Bottom line, delivering consistent MI globally is tough and systems need to be able to support visibility and localization for audit and traceability.

Challenge 3 – Multi-channel Delivery

Today’s market is connected, tech savvy and expects a high standard of service. This requires MI to be delivered via multiple channels and in a highly consumable fashion. The same information needs to be delivered via a call center verbal response, and in print (PDF), web and mobile formats. The content needs to be searchable and offered in summary and extended versions. Multi-channel delivery is generally achieved via multiple solutions, one for each output type e.g. PDF, web and mobile. The only option for reuse or single sourcing is again to copy and paste between systems, a time consuming activity and another potential source of inconsistency.

Bottom line, customers need MI to be delivered when they want it, the way they want it. Systems need to be able to support this from a single source.

So What Can You Do About These Challenges?

Almost all of these issues stem directly from the way MI is authored, managed and published. Document – based systems, such as Word, lock content in its format and prevent effective reuse. Copy and paste is the downfall of consistency!

Thankfully there is an answer – Component Authoring.

Component authoring systems allow you to break your content up into reusable chunks of information. The concept is write once, reuse many times, localize to any language and publish to any format. To find out more about the benefits of components, check out this video – Components: Solving the Content Problem.

Components support MI professionals in efficiently developing content. By allowing them to easily find and reuse the correct, pre-approved information, productivity improvements in excess of 50% are possible. Reuse also allows for huge cost savings in localization particularly when producing updates. Finally, component authoring systems support multi-channel publishing where from a single source, MI can be published to any format including mobile.

By driving efficiency and speed in the MI development and delivery processes, the vision of effectively serving the needs of global healthcare professionals and patients can take a big step towards becoming a reality.

How do you see these challenges? How are you looking to solve them?
Agree, disagree? Post your comments below.

Breaking Down the Content Silos of Medical Information

Meet Molly.

Molly is a medical writer for a large pharmaceutical company. She is educated, well paid, and is responsible for a number of medical content related activities. Molly really likes her job. Her largest motivation is having a hand in medical documentation that ranges from clinical information all the way to published articles. However, Molly’s greatest challenge is maintaining content consistency and compliance. With the massive amount of medical information available, this quickly becomes a tedious task. Further, Molly fully understands the dire consequences if her content is wrong. Particularly with respect to standard responses where errors or omissions can result in a poor healthcare professional experience, regulatory fines, and even compromise patient safety.

Molly has noticed a pattern: although she authors content relating to medical information, there is also a lot of input from other areas. She must collect information from the drug discovery phase, incorporate unexpected events from the field, and make all this available in a variety of medical information outputs, such as medical response letters and prescribing information. Yet, she constantly has issues getting the right information from the right places! Through emails and endless searches, Molly eventually finds the information she needs, but only after spending many hours sifting through various document versions, dismissing out of date information and rewriting information that is missing or she simply can’t find. Inevitably, she thinks, “there’s gotta be a better way”.


The Content Silo Trap

What Molly is experiencing is the classic “content silo trap”. This is when content has been written in one department, or silo, but never makes it out to other departments. There is no visibility into these silos so people in R&D are unable to see what changes in content have been made in the Medical or Commercial processes. In the Pharmaceutical industry, where regulatory fines are brutal and patient safety is at risk, there is no margin for error.

Additionally, the content silo trap is costly to the company in two ways. First, think about all the “Mollys” in a large Pharma. Molly takes pride in her work so she goes the extra mile to make sure her content is compliant and accurate. But when previously written content isn’t readily available, she wastes hours searching for, rewriting, and reformatting content that already exists. An IDC report found that on average, knowledge workers like Molly waste 20 hours per week on non-productive content related activities. With Molly’s $80,000 salary, that is almost $40,000 lost to the company in unproductive activities.

Second, the content silo trap hurts the company’s content. When content is not readily available or passed between departments in editable Word documents there is literally no way of knowing which content is accurate and up to date. The ubiquitous “copy & paste” function means that content invariably becomes inconsistent with highly expensive and time consuming review and approval processes being the only way to ensure content accuracy and consistency.


The Better Way

Remember when Molly thought, “There’s gotta be a better way”? Well there is!

The key to breaking down the content silo trap is to strategically and intelligently manage your content. This means understanding reuse. Although conceptually simple, this can demand some initial investment. Here are the steps to achieving a better way:


Undergo a Content Audit

By definition, a Content Audit is, “the process and result of conducting a quantitative study of a content inventory” (Talia Eisen, the Language of Content Strategy). This means that all the content from each function in scope is reviewed and analyzed. The purpose is to see where content can be reused instead of rewritten. You can quickly discover where messaging has drifted, where content is wrong or out of date, and where the opportunities for reuse can flourish. Understanding the current state via this audit process is essential to the following steps.

Develop a Content Strategy

Once the content audit has revealed reuse opportunities, it is time to make a plan to execute. A content strategy is simply a sustainable and repeatable plan to decide how content will be created and reused. It consists of developing content reuse strategies, organizing content in a taxonomy, enabling delivery to multiple channels and audiences, and establishing a comprehensive feedback loop from content consumers. To learn more about this, check out Part 1 in our Content Strategy Blog Series.

The reason developing a strategy is so important is because there are a lot of risks to executing without a plan. Just like building a house without plans, writing content without a strategy exposes the company to the risk of a sub-optimal outcome. To learn more about why content strategy is so important, check out Part 2 in our Content Strategy Blog Series.

Once you understand the reuse opportunities and how they can be achieved, it is time to leverage a component authoring platform to execute on your new content strategy.

Bring in the Components

Components are self-contained chunks of content that can be as big as several paragraphs or as small as a single word. Components are created once and can then be reused across any number of documents or outputs. If you ever need to reuse content you simply add a component to your new document. No need to copy and paste, creating multiple copies of the same information.

Furthermore, when components are stored in a centralized, relational database, such as a component authoring platform, they can be easily found and accessed for reuse across multiple departments. This point is pivotal to avoid the content silo trap.

To learn more about component authoring, check out our white paper, Why Components: A Modern Approach to the World’s Content Problem.


The Benefits

Molly has done an excellent job leading the transformation for her company’s new content creation process. From the content audit, Molly discovered that her company could reuse 86% of their content! Executing on her content strategy with a component authoring platform, Molly’s company is seeing a huge return on their investment!

Reusing content across the entire company has:

  • Increased productivity
  • Brought products to market faster
  • Decreased the work load and cut the time to author, review, localize and publish content
  • Slashed translation costs
  • Synchronized content across departments, resulting in consistent message and fewer content errors

Most importantly, version control is no longer an issue because the system uses a centralized database that supports the entire company for collaborative authoring, review, and delivery.



Molly is now a hero in her company. She recognized a problem in the company’s content creation process and instead of ignoring it, she investigated options for a solution. Molly landed on the best solution available: one that encourages success through reuse. The content silo trap has been avoided and when Molly updates content, she can be sure that the information is flowing across departments.

Life Sciences

The Intelligent Content Life Sciences event was held in our backyard at San Francisco this week. Organized by Ann Rockley of the Rockley Group and Scott Abel, Content Wrangler this was a great opportunity for us to meet people from Life Sciences organizations, discuss the challenges they face and how we might deliver value.

Our Founder and CEO, Paul Trotter spoke to a packed audience on Global Reuse of Medical Information and Improved Customer Experiences while I did a short presentation on our business and how we are supporting the Life Sciences industries. Patrick Welsh, VP Vertical Solutions Life Sciences rounded out our team for the event.

Although it was small at around 100 attendees, I thought the interest in exploring best practice content strategies and intelligent content was strong. The attendees seemed to be very aware of the content challenges that they face but this is balanced by the fact that they are inherently risk adverse and somewhat battle scarred from previous failed attempts to solve their content and documentation issues.

Our message is definitely resonating and I feel that Life Sciences companies really have no option but to get serious about addressing their content authoring and management issues.

Our message is really quite simple, Life Science companies produce two things…. Drugs or Devices… and documents. By the time a new drug or device hits the market, billions have been invested in research, development, manufacturing process, medical information and regulatory approvals. A significant portion of this huge investment is represented as content. And in this, lies the challenges.

For too long now Life Sciences companies have been held back by outdated document based processes, systems and tools. This means that they struggle to maintain a single source of truth and this becomes a compliance nightmare, particularly in regard to market facing and regulatory content. Updating content is a painful exercise of finding the correct content plus every document or online format in which that content exists.  As a result, content development and updates are repetitive and error-prone exercises. Obviously a new… more intelligent content approach is required.

And this is the crux of our offer to the Life Sciences industries… a more intelligent approach. Our approach has been refined over more than 15 years of delivering single source, component authoring, management and publishing solutions for a wide variety of industries around the world. In the past three years, we have migrated to SaaS and Cloud delivery and specialized Author-it Cloud for Life Sciences applications in Medical Communications, Labeling and Med Device Technical Communications.

We have put an enormous amount of work into the design and user experience for our Life Sciences clients. This industry will not tolerate complexity. Systems need to be intuitive and easy to use. Writers don’t wantto contend with coding, complicated XML tagging or confusing new processes. Instead, they need to be able to concentrate on quickly and efficiently delivering their content using a single source, component authoring approach. The results are compelling. Lower call center costs, a better and faster customer experience for physicians, lower content production and update costs and more consistent content reducing regulatory issues and risk.

Next up for us is the Veeva Commercial Summit in Philadelphia May 19-21. We have a large team attending and are looking forward to “mixing it up” with Life Sciences attendees and working with Veeva and our other partners at this event.