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In Focus: Cutting the High Cost of Creating Documents

Two important research reports on document-related topics released last month by analyst firm International Data Corp. (IDC).
E-mail is the single most time-consuming information management activity in the enterprise. For those involved in creating, reviewing and editing documents, these tasks are even more time consuming. That's one of the conclusions of "The Hidden Cost of Information Work," one of two important research reports on document-related topics released last month by analyst firm International Data Corp. (IDC). In the second study, "Worldwide Dynamic Enterprise Publishing Software 2005-2009 Forecast," IDC reported that many companies are reducing the costs of document production by adopting "dynamic enterprise publishing" solutions, an emerging category of software that's growing at a double-digit pace.

Based on a survey of 600 financial services, healthcare, manufacturing and government organizations, the Hidden Cost study identifies the average time spent on common information-related tasks. Topping the list is "reading and answering e-mail," which demands 14.5 hours of labor per week from the average knowledge worker. Rounding out the top five were "creating documents" at 13.3 hours per week, "analyzing information" at 9.6 hours, "searching for information" at 9.5 hours and "editing/reviewing" at 8.8 hours per week.

Applying a salary of $60,000 per year for the average knowledge worker, these labor expenditures translate into whopping costs. Managing and responding to e-mail, for example, costs $22,000 per year per knowledge worker, or $22 million for an organization with 1,000 such employees. Not all employees produce documents. For those who do, the combination of creating, reviewing and editing adds up to more than 20 hours per week, or nearly $33,200 per knowledge worker per year.

"Information management involves discrete tasks, from aggregating and analyzing information to authoring and approving new documents," says Joshua Duhl, IDC analyst and coauthor of the study. "If you put these together to look at the whole process, the costs are staggering."

IDC's Dynamic Enterprise Publishing forecast identified an emerging class of document technologies — most of them XML-enabled — that are reducing document production costs while also improving personalization and relevance by automating document production.

Many companies spend too much time producing documents simply because the process "isn't systematized or handled with a formal workflow," Duhl says. "Contracts, for example, are an area where many people like to think that the language is very different from contract to contract, but in fact they're usually quite similar. Proposals, requests for proposals, and real estate and investment perspectives are also variable but often very similar from instance to instance."

Dynamic enterprise publishing software supports personalization and customization for specific applications and customers. But these systems also maximize content reuse, thereby saving time and money on each document produced. Some 30 vendors are in the market, with products ranging from XML-based content editors such as ArborText Epic and Pageflex .Edit to document production tools such as BlastRadius XMetal and Adobe FrameMaker and on to specialized document servers such as Quark Dynamic Document Server, Adobe Central Pro Output Sever and ArborText Enterprise E-Content Engine. Sales of this type of software will total only $400 million this year, IDC estimates. But with a 27-percent growth rate, IDC estimates sales will top $1 billion by 2009.

Companies that deliver millions of bills, statements or marketing offers per year have been among the earliest adopters of dynamic publishing solutions. The next wave will include those producing contracts, proposals, guidebooks, training materials, product and service documentation, and customer alerts and notifications.

Content reuse makes componentized documents easier to create and customize. It also makes these documents easier to update without going though the expense of creating a new document, Duhl says. "At the high end of the market, companies are creating documents that can be updated automatically through a streamlined review and approval process," he explains, adding that only the new sections of the document have to be reviewed and approved. "Automotive companies are creating maintenance documents that are self-updating. If an engine maintenance procedure changes, it's updated in all the documents that contain that component, so the next time a service technician calls up or downloads a copy of a service document, it will be the latest version available."

Resources:

a. The Hidden Costs of Publishing Documents Whitepaper
http://www.arbortext.com/resources/IDCWhitepaper.asp

b. Managing Enterprise Content: A Unified Content Strategy
http://www.rockley.com/articles/The%20Rockley%20Group%20-%20ECM%20UCS%20Whitepaper.pdf

c. Content reuse in practice
http://www.steptwo.com.au/ papers/kmc_contentreuse/index.html

d. Worldwide Dynamic Enterprise Publishing Software 2005-2009 Forecast and Analysis: A New Generation of Enterprise Publishing Software Is Born - Initial Market Sizing and Vendor Shares
http://www.idc.com/getdoc.jsp?containerId=32979