Content management for technical publications, in-flight training, safety management and maintenance oversight can certainly add stress to your operations, maintenance and training departments. With various FAA, EASA or voluntary enterprise scrutiny on fleet operations and training as well as the nuance of required safety management systems for commercial operators, multi-channel and multi-device publishing is not only a need, it’s a must. With tools like Framemaker 12, Abobe Experience Manager, PTC Arbortext, open source SaaS, or other off-the-shelf products, aviation enterprise have plenty of choices to deliver content to multiple users, formats and screens and publish to popular output formats like EPUB 3, KF8, MOBI, WebHelp, CHM, HTML 5 and XML. Various departments can manage content effectively through customized user interfaces for easier navigation and better viewing, configure icons and organizational tools customized to the operator’s workflow, and so on. Technical writers, instructors and A&P mechanics have limitless options to create, manage and distribute content throughout their internal and external networks. Furthermore, both DITA and S1000D have matured to global standards and no longer need the same customization as in years past.
There are also a host of web-based, learning management systems or open-source tools to comprehensively manage curriculum and training content to meet both enterprise, FAA, and EASA requirements. These providers seek to simplify recurrent training requirements, safety and operational protocols and internal compliance issues as well. The problem in large aviation enterprise is not whether you’re working in technical publications or field operations training. The problem is that these various departments have become siloed, act autonomously and don’t have a single source of truth with respect to the “enterprise” content value chain. On the the hand, the problem for a smaller operator or ground handler, for instance, is that they may not have the resources for all of these departments and are still governed under the same regulatory compliance.
With all the compliance scrutiny and the plethora of products and solutions currently available in the market place, aviation enterprise may in fact have too many options to choose from to effectively create, manage and distribute enterprise content. Take safety management for instance; if SMS is required across the aviation industry, future compliance mandates released by the FAA and EASA would certainly impact business functions whether the organization is a PART 91, 121, or 135 or otherwise. Mandates such as Continuous Analysis, Internal Evaluation programs and Safety Oversight could be daunting. Most aviation companies (both operators and ground handlers) struggle to streamline training and operational, safety procedures to meet even today’s voluntary efforts. However, as safety management transforms itself from a recommended best practices to a required business process, aviation enterprise will have to take a hard look at how to implement not only these best practices, but a specific set of guidelines for training, evaluation and oversight. In order to monitor its effectiveness in this case, aviation enterprise will have to completely rethink how they create a comprehensive training program and distribute it to their internal and external networks.
As operators all over the world look to improve their profit-margins, seek cost cutting measures and eliminate the inefficient paper-based or legacy-system based practices, they yearn for an integrated solution to successfully meet not only safety and compliance requirements, but cost effective ways to create and manage all of this enterprise content. And, as all of you working in these environments know, this isn’t an easy task given the limitations of legacy or enterprise software. Even company culture and the endless content/document/learning management products on the market can present integration, implementation and ROI concerns to aviation enterprise management.
So, how can an aviation enterprise streamline the creation of content, manage it to meet compliance and enterprise goals and see clear to a simplified solution?
Create a customized, open-architecture environment that is vendor or software agnostic to accomplish your content management needs.
With content creation in mind, you can create one interface or platform that integrates your preferred, document management tools, learning management tools, CAD software or other preferred or currently used tools in an open-architecture environment tied directly to your enterprise resource planning (ERP) system. This open architecture will condense the business process into one, functioning tool transparent to the entire enterprise for evaluation, analytics and most importantly compliance. Why run time-sensitive reports from 10 or 12 different tools when you can garner that information from metadata and other sources in one fail swoop? Easier said than done, right?
When faced with thousands, or sometimes millions of pages of data to support operations or manufacturing processes, compliance requirements and even the needs of a complex supply chain, it can be difficult getting this information to the right place. However it’s not impossible with bespoke engineering, customized to your specific needs. (Least we not forget that over the past decades, enterprise have evolved from printing documents to word processing to desktop publishing in a relatively short amount of time.) Antiquated legacy or enterprise software will continue to be replaced with a more flexible ways to create and manage data. Gone are the days of feeling “locked-in”. Therefore, through inexpensive software-as-a-solution (SaaS) engineering, aviation enterprise can easily implement this open architecture environment within a 45-60 day process, can garner immediate analytics and reporting that highlights ROI concerns, and simplifies the path to publishing no matter the size of the enterprise.
Enterprise adoption of SaaS (software-as-a-Service) continues to be a hot trend, even though “on-premise” software still represents the vast majority used in organizations today. However, it’s expected that global enterprises will increasingly update their procedures and be more serious about adopting SaaS solutions for content creation and management. The “cloud” has been adopted by aviation organizations to some degree by 90% through the end 2014. With the use of cloud computing, companies have reported saving considerable time and money by reducing and managing expensive, IT initiatives. Organizations across many industries are benefitting from converting their legacy content to structured, modular content that can be repurposed. Aviation enterprise with even limited budgets and small staffs can embark on a better way to create and manage content.
So, what’s stopping you?
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Gates L. Scott
Gates L. Scott is a Senior Land Executive with Mansfield Service Partners developing new markets and delivery fuel management solutions through the Front Range of Colorado and beyond. A former Certified Flight Instructor and commercial helicopter pilot and aviation enthusiast, he loves anything that flies!