Here at Armada, we pride ourselves on providing outstanding user-friendly documentation services. We hold long-standing relationships with a range of clients in the software industry. One such client is iSAMS, who develop school management software.
iSAMS is a Northampton-based software company who have developed the first browser-based school information management system. They have a client base of over 350 schools in the UK and worldwide. They offer a range of services to their clients, from installation of their software to implementation and support.
We have worked in partnership with iSAMS to add and update their user documentation since January 2011.
iSAMS approached us with the need to create a task-based online help system to integrate seamlessly with their existing help structure. They wanted us to create help documentation for new and existing modules of their management software. We were also responsible for designing a new layout for their help section. Initially, their online help system was created using Adobe Robohelp.
As iSAMS began to rapidly expand into new areas, their documentation needs also changed. iSAMS system modules were being released on a more regular basis and the number of iSAMS users drastically increased. iSAMS wanted to improve the accessibility of their documentation with a fresh, modern look and feel.
Solution – Using a Wiki
We settled with helping them transfer and migrate their online help to a browser-based wiki called Confluence. The decision to use Confluence going forward was relatively simple to make, as:
- Confluence is incredibly simple to pick up and use.
- The system is entirely flexible.
- Confluence could reflect iSAMS’ branding and styling, merging effortlessly with the rest of their content.
You can read more about using Confluence for user assistance here.
After helping iSAMS migrate their existing online help into their server-based Confluence system, we quickly immersed ourselves with their new help framework. We adapted our existing technical writing methodology for their wiki-based help system, adding images and other media to their content and introduced a new style guide to their requirements. We also took the opportunity to evaluate the existing documentation and update them during the migration to the wiki system.
Planning the creation of new documentation pages required coordination between Armada (usually a director and/or a member of the technical authoring team) and a main contact at iSAMS. Before a module is documented, a member of our technical authoring team spends a day at the client’s site (or alternatively, arranges a web meeting) to run through the module with the main contact. By preferring to work directly, we have established great relationships between our teams and developed a strong understanding of the needs of the client.
The iSAMS documentation portal has improved greatly over the period that we’ve been working together. Documentation work is still ongoing at an increasing rate, with new module documentation produced every 2-3 months. As our team have learnt more about the Confluence package, we’ve been able to reflect that in the quality of the iSAMS documentation. As with all of our clients, iSAMS have been able to rely on our expertise to deliver quality documentation (and equally, we have been continually impressed with every upgrade to their software). You can click here to visit the iSAMS documentation portal.
One of the bigger problems we had with the previous online help structure was the initial learning curve for new users wishing to add and edit content. This problem was eliminated with the use of a wiki, allowing multiple users to access and update module documentation on-the-fly. As iSAMS grew, so did we and Confluence let additional users from both sides to take on the documentation responsibilities easily and quickly.
User feedback to our work on the documentation portal has been overwhelmingly positive. The benefits of our work have been tangible – it has reduced strain on their internal support team, assisted their trainers and, most of all, helped new iSAMS users get to grips with the software smoothly and without hassle. The way the wiki has been used by schools has shaped how the documentation has been structured, ensuring that the wider iSAMS community has continuous input on the wiki content.
Our ability to adapt to the client’s needs is a key part of our strong relationship with the iSAMS team. We are always looking forward to developing similar partnerships with new clients.