New case study – Helping HCC deal with the size and complexity of embedded systems documentation

You’ll find a new case study on the Cherryleaf Web site: Helping HCC deal with the size and complexity of embedded systems documentation.

HCC Embedded is a high tech software corporation that develops specialist software for deeply embedded systems, such as file systems, USB and networking software.

HCC_logo

Dave Hughes, CEO of HCC, realised that with over 100 different modules to be documented, often with inter-dependent content and frequent updates, managing the documents in Microsoft Word had become unmanageable and untraceable.

HCC’s documentation assists users developing with the products, and it plays an important role in the marketing of HCC’s products to developers. This means keeping a consistent format and brand across all this material is critical to the organization.

For the rest of the case study, see Helping HCC deal with the size and complexity of embedded systems documentation.

Case study: Creating an easy to use Listener Guide for the Samaritans and the Prison Service

Through its Listener Scheme in prisons, Samaritans  provides  emotional support to prisoners who are struggling to cope, are self harming or are feeling suicidal.

Guidance for Samaritans volunteers that run and support Listener schemes was contained in a hard copy manual (the Guide to Prisons) which was cumbersome to update, difficult to navigate and not in a format that made it easy to share with prison staff. As a result, over the years, volunteers referred to it  less and less frequently meaning that consistency in delivery of the Listener scheme across the prison estate was being compromised.

Cherryleaf were tasked with converting the manual to a fully searchable, easy to use, online resource that would link to other relevant information on the Samaritans intranet and could also be made available on the Prison Service intranet. The new online Guide to the Listener scheme means that both Samaritans volunteers and prison staff have access to the same, up to date, comprehensive set of guidelines and information.

Maria Foster, Samaritans’ Prison Support Officer said:

“For Samaritans volunteers, having the information available on the intranet rather than in a manual in their branches, means they can find out what they need to know at any time; the search facility and page style ensures that information can be located and read quickly and easily.

For prison staff, this is the first time they will be able to see all of the Samaritans guidelines for running the Listener scheme; this will help to further develop their understanding of the scheme and will support them in facilitating the operation of the scheme in their prison.

Samaritans is delighted with the result of the project;

Cherryleaf understood the brief and very quickly got to grips with the subject matter, turning a cumbersome manual into a streamlined user friendly resource.”

 

The Samaritans provides confidential emotional support for people who are experiencing feelings of distress, despair or suicidal thoughts. You can talk to them, any time, on 08457 909090 (UK), 1850 60 90 90 (Republic of Ireland) or jo@samaritans.org .

Case Study: Samaritans procedures clarified and put online

Samaritans is a charity that provides confidential emotional support 24/7 to those experiencing despair, distress or suicidal feelings. The service is provided by over 20,000 volunteers from 202 branches.

The Samaritans Operations Manual explains in detail the policies and processes which volunteers must follow when delivering the service. This new online manual will replace four paper manuals and will be accessible in every branch by every volunteer. Cherryleaf has provided conversion and editing services so that Samaritans can make the manual available online through its intranet.

Miriam Piterkova, Samaritans’ Operations Officer, said:

“The Samaritans Operations Manual will be one of the most important resources volunteers use to support them to deliver our service. For the first time, all the information they need will be in one place. This will make it so much easier for volunteers to find what they need quickly.”

The manual will be written in such a way that volunteers can skim through it, or read every detail. It will be stored on the Samaritans intranet and be fully searchable. It is written in plain English and version-controlled, so it will be always up-to-date.

The new Operations Manual has been uploaded onto the Samaritans intranet, and has been reviewed by Regional Officers and the Quality and Visitors group. It is now being reviewed by the branches prior to its official launch later this year.

The Samaritans are also in discussions with Cherryleaf about turning other manuals into online resources.

Creating risk reports in less time, using Confluence (Case Study)

This is an edited recording of a case study (by Malcolm Tullett of Risk and Safety Plus and Ellis Pratt of Cherryleaf) presented at the London Atlassian User Group meeting in April 2011. In this case study, we show how Cherryleaf created a system in Confluence software that dramatically reduced the time needed by Risk and Safety Plus to create risk reports.

Case study presentation – Using Confluence for generating reports

Ellis Pratt of Cherryleaf and Malcolm Tullett of Risk and Safety Plus Ltd will be presenting a short case study on “Using Confluence for generating field reports” at the 19 April 2011 meeting of the London Atlassian User Group.

The meeting is being held at The National Archives in Kew, Richmond. It’s free to attend – see the event and booking details.

Our client’s fire risk assessment report generator goes live this week

In the UK, every building, apart from private single dwellings, needs to be assessed for fire risk every three years. To do this, a fire risk assessor will assess the building and write a report on their findings and recommendations. For offices, these reports can be 30 pages long, and it can take an assessor a full day to complete the report.

We’ve been working with a fire risk assessment firm to create a system for them that generates these reports in less time and in a more consistent way. Like many organisations, they’ve been using Microsoft Word to write the reports, and this can lead to a wide variation in the way the reports are presented.

Cherryleaf has been developing a report generator for them that significantly reduces the time needed to produce their reports – they believe they can reduce the time needed from a day to an hour – and, this week, they’ve started to print out the assessments they’ve been writing.

So what did we create for them?

There were a number of potential software applications we could have used (for example, Author-it, Mindtouch and Confluence), but the best fit for this client was Confluence. Within this application, we created a master report ‘boilerplate’ that contained all the key information that should go into a fire risk assessment. This master boilerplate ensures there are no omissions in each report.

On the individual pages within the report, there are numerous drop-down sentences and blank text boxes for the assessors to choose. There are also ‘variables’, for chunks of information that need to appear in more than one place in the report – they are embedded in appropriate paragraphs. If you change the information contained in the variable, then this change is implemented at the appropriate places in the document.

The project has produced a number of challenges. For the client, they have been looking hard at the content that goes into an assessment report – and how to create a single report that satisfies the many different standards for fire risk assessments. For us, we’ve had to create a system that works for people who might not be very technically literate. For example, people who have never uploaded an image into a document before. We’ve also had to create something that’s very flexible – suitable for assessments of small buildings such as bandstands, bus shelters and suchlike, to big buildings such as tower blocks.

The proof of the pudding is in the eating, as they say, and we’ll soon be able to see how much time the client will save. The signs are looking good, and there’s likely to be further enhancements and developments to their system in the future.

At a rough estimate, there are 10 million buildings in the UK that need to be assessed for fire risk each year. If our system reduces, at a conservative estimate, the time needed to produce each report by 4 hours, then there’s the potential for it to save 40 million hours of writing time per year.

Here’s the link to register for Mindtouch’s European launch event on 9th Sept

We’ve been sent a new link for registering for Mindtouch’s European launch event on 9th Sept, which is being held in Central London on Thursday 9th September.

We’ll be presenting on “The seven key challenges Technical Publications departments face today”.  The whole event is called “Your Documentation is your Best Storefront. Are You Open for Business?”

Over half of your website traffic is seeking documentation, so you’d better deliver compelling content that converts visitors into revenue.

There will be also a case study presentation from Axa Insurance and other talks and demonstrations from Mindtouch themselves.

The event is free. Here’s the link for registering for Mindtouch’s European launch event on 9th Sept,

We’ll be speaking at Mindtouch’s European launch event on 9th Sept

We’ve been invited to present at Mindtouch’s European launch event, which is being held in Central London on Thursday 9th September.

Our theme will be the seven key challenges Technical Publications departments face today.

The whole event is called “Your Documentation is your Best Storefront. Are You Open for Business?”

Over half of your website traffic is seeking documentation, so you’d better deliver compelling content that converts visitors into revenue.

There will be also a case study presentation from Axa Insurance and other talks and demonstrations from Mindtouch themselves.

The event is free. Mindtouch’s contact details are here.