Defining and refining the document management process for a complex environment such as an airline, can result in improving departmental resource, save costs and increase efficiency. As such, good document management needs to meet the needs of all stakeholders - all of which have different requirements.
Document management is driven by a number of factors as to why manual content needs to be changed. These can include new fleet introduction, amendments to OEM manuals, regulatory changes, external inputs such as NAA advice or internal inputs such as safety changes. Once the need for manual changes has been recognised, the document management process can begin.
This is the beginning of the process when data must be processed from the respective points of origin, be it the OEM, regulator, NAA or internal airline department. Such data is often received in various formats and for changes to be made it must be processed into a consistent format. For instance, if editing of OEM manuals is taking place in-house, the team may be using IXP, FrameMaker or even an XML editing tool.
OEM updates from Boeing, Airbus, Embraer and other OEMs are only sent in particular formats so the recipient airline must develop a consistent approach to editing also. However, these to tend to be manually intensive to manage for SMEs and in-house publishing teams. Equally there is often a dependency upon both software and editing capability. Once the content has been updated, the final version will need to be NAA approved before it can move to publishing.
The publishing process delivers the changed document to all formats required. Should print still be a requirement, this process takes care of all formatting issues such as tables of content, pagination and lists of effective pages. Publication delivers to the highly featured online viewers as well as mobile applications (iOS, Windows, Android), ensuring that all devices are synchronised.
This is the point in which the manual changes have now been made live and distributed to the relevant parties. In an ideal world, controlled distribution can be done with the click of a button. However, airlines might use different software or tools solely for distribution purposes but might only allow for PDF documents to be uploaded - this can result in losing out on the benefits that XML source files can have.
This stage of the process is the application on an integrated or mobile EFB, or iPad / tablet platform, providing end-users such as pilots and cabin crew with an easy-to-use viewer. Such viewers can include a range of capabilities like filtering, layering, search, multi-media, hyperlinking, personal annotations and more that will allow them to perform their role. Different viewers can have different features, but essentially one that can be used both online and offline, is user-friendly and available on different platforms is ideal.