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Complex documents wrong strategy vs right strategy

Complex Documents – Easy Solution

Keeping on top of the workflow when multiple contributors work on the same document 

What are the common characteristics of documents such as proposals, procedures, manuals, and financial reports? Most obvious, they are large documents that can span several hundred pages, making them complex to both produce and maintain. More importantly, they are business critical documents that are published externally or shared internally, making quality of content an essential feature.

Perhaps less obvious, these documents require the collaborative and simultaneous effort of several writers. Furthermore, before being issued, they often go through a predefined process of reviewing and approval, where responsibility and control over the document is passed from one person to another.

In order for organizations to manage these complex documents, they need to look into the world of document collaboration and co-authoring solutions.

Traditional word processors, such as Microsoft Word are essentially advanced typewriters.

Word was originally made to replace the typewriter. Today, a typical word processor has functionality for text editing, spell-checking, reviewing and other layout manipulations, creation of graphics, and automatic generation of  tables of contents, etc.

A true collaborative writing application includes all the common features of a word processor, but is designed from the ground up with focus on textual collaboration and workflow, i.e. the assigning of responsibilities and deadlines to different writers. This helps automate the collective creation process, while removing the inefficiencies often associated with the use of traditional word processors, such as lack of visibility and control, and difficulties with maintaining consistent formatting and layout.

To enable true document collaboration with all your contributors, internally or externally, locally or globally, you really require a web native database driven document solution.

What are some of the benefits of using a web native database driven document solution?

Benefits of using a web native database driven document solution




Web based

  • Work from multiple locations
  • Work with partners, sub-contractors
  • No local software installation
  • No need to distribute document, can give participants access
  • Always working on latest version

Data base driven

  • Several people can work simultaneously on the same document
  • Automatic layout, formatting and numbering
  • Support master content management (MCM) and component content management (CCM)
  • Don’t have to wait for document access
  • Eliminates the time spent on checking the numbering and creating TOC, List of figures, tables and attachments 
  • Easy to leverage, manage and maintain live content across your enterprise

Automatic layout

  • Documents will always be identical to the corporate guidelines
  • Header and footer consistent
  • Enhance corporate USPs
  • Increased focus on content
  • No time spent on formatting
  • Correct branding
  • Document always ready for export
  • Enhances quality of the document

Complete visibility

  • Can track the development of the document from day one
  • Control the process
  • No surprises towards the end
  • Management can easily give advice and guidance early on in the process


  • Responsibility clearly defined
  • Individual deadlines
  • Several reviewers
  • Participants more likely to finish work in time
  • Order in the process
  • All reviewers can have their say before completion of the document

Commenting tool

  • All comments stored one place
  • Can see colleagues comments and give comments
  • Easy to have full overview
  • Never lose access to comments 
  • All comments concluded

Ability to copy or link content across database

  • Easy to reuse information
  • Can use the same information across all documents
  • Automatic layout, formatting and numbering
  • Saves vast amounts of time
  • Simplifies process of using standard write-ups and the best of previous documents
  • No formatting worries

Blacklining / Red-lining

  • Can easily track progress
  • Simplifies revision gate process
  • Can quickly view all changes 
  • Saves time
  • Increased focus on what is important

The list above is far from complete – the benefits of a web native database driven document solution are massive.

A survey by IDC in 2012, states that information workers waste a significant amount of time each week dealing with the variety of challenges related to working with documents. This wasted time costs the organization more than $19,000 a year per information worker.
$19,000 a year, that is a significant and costly waste. Even with minor document production improvements, a company could make real impact on their organization.

Time to consider a move away from a file driven document solution based on Word for your complex documents?

Kris Sæther

Chief Commercial Officer

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