Smart content – focus on your users while keeping an eye on costs

How can you make your content clever? Obviously, one of the most important things is to write clearly. That’s always a good start. But of course, content isn’t just text. We put a lot of effort into photos, graphics, and videos to drive the IQ of your content above 100. If we transform all of that and make it digital, it becomes infinitely more useful. Ever since E = mc², we know that less is more. Processes that create chaos and confusion won’t deliver smart content. Our formula is simple: a smart creation workflow + smart results = smart content. It doesn’t get easier than that.

Information architecture for outstanding technical documentation

Technical documentation should be useful. And just like Bauhaus architecture it should be functional. With clear, short, and concise instructions, even the most complicated products can be straightforward for your users. Technical writers will do whatever it takes to achieve this goal, using clear, coherent language, meaningful graphics, and step-by-step videos. The skills of a variety of experts are required to build technical documentation with a consistent information architecture. You know you’ve delivered when the user says: “Well, that was easy”.

Technical documentation

Our content is worth keeping

The fourth most important invention in human history after fire, the wheel, and the vacuum cleaner is the delete button. To see just how much pain it has spared us – and still could – just take a look at social media. The need for the delete button varies in technical documentation, and ideally, we shouldn’t need it at all. If reading your manuals leaves your customers confused, that’s bad enough. If it’s more than that though, then things start to look critical for your content. Just one touch of the delete button is all it takes. And that’s the last thing any of us wants. Beware of bad content. Give great content the support it deserves!

We use the latest insights from user experience research to deliver truly exceptional content. Intuitive, clearly illustrated, and risk-free. No matter what content format: text, graphics, animation, audio, or video. Your budget is our benchmark. Quality is our commitment.

The benefits for you

  • Premium quality technical documentation 
  • Enhancement of your product thanks to great user guidance and customer ratings 
  • Preparation for multimedia publishing with text, graphics, animation, audio, and video based on your budget 
  • Workflow-driven content creation, for example based on modularization and topic-based writing 
  • Risk-free documentation through compliance with all currently relevant standards such as IEC/IEEE 82079, ISO/IEC 26514, ISO 20607, and ANSI Z535.6 
  • Precise implementation of the latest insights from user experience design (UXD) 

Our services

  • Design, layout, and template development, for example in Word, FrameMaker, or InDesign  
  • State-of-the-art documentation development: user friendly, cost effective, and aligned with all relevant standards 
  • Content development based on the latest usability research findings 
  • Creation of graphics and media integration  
  • Modularization and migration of content to your content management systems 
  • Quality control: 
    • Review of style, grammar, spelling, and content 
    • Terminology extraction, coordination, and maintenance, also using tools 
  • Sustainable content development: 
    • Development of an editorial guide and a style guide for future content 
  • Usability tests:  
    • Expert analysis based on heuristic evaluation 
    • User surveys: online polls, telephone polls, face-to-face interviews, focus group interviews, and user testing in the usability lab 

As well as standard content management systems, we use desktop publishing tools and graphics programs to handle your projects. But that’s not all – we also use [i]-match, the itl authoring assistance tool. This allows us to support you throughout the entire technical documentation journey: during content creation, for tool and system rollouts at your company, for data cleanup in your systems, and for fine adjustments to the layout of your documents in the selected target languages.

At itl, we use the following tools:

  • Adobe InDesign 
  • Adobe FrameMaker 
  • Microsoft Word 
  • Adobe RoboHelp 
  • MadCap Flare 
  • etc. 
  • Adobe Illustrator 
  • Adobe Photoshop 
  • Corel DESIGNER 
  • 3DVia Composer 
  • Adobe Substance 3D 
  • SAP 3D Visual Enterprise Author 
  • etc. 
  • SCHEMA ST4 
  • docuglobe 
  • TIM 
  • Smart Media Creator 
  • Noxum Publishing Studio 
  • etc. 

If you have already designed and written your technical documentation, we are happy to provide the following quality control services for content and user guidance: 

  • Review of style, grammar, spelling, and content 
  • Terminology: terminology extraction, coordination, and maintenance, also possible using a tool 
  • Guidelines: development of an editorial guide and a style guide for future content 
  • Usability tests: 
    • Expert analysis based on heuristic evaluation 
    • User surveys: online polls, telephone polls, face-to-face interviews, focus group interviews, and user testing in the usability lab 

UXD – blog article (in German)

Find out everything you need to know about UXD in Dieter Gust’s blog article “The future is now, and it’s called UXD – User Experience Design”.

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The itl Newsletter (in German)

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Video production

Videos and animations: … aand Action!

Motion graphics without movement are about as useful as an audio book without sound. In videos and animated sequences, it’s all about action. Someone speaking to a camera isn’t enough; unless, of course, the voice itself is the message. But this is rarely the case. As it happens, workflows and processes, clearly presented, are ideal candidates for film. In other words, practical demonstrations of how to do something. And if it’s properly scripted, it doesn’t even matter what language the video is in. Ideally, processes and procedures should be so self-explanatory that spoken instructions are no longer required. And if sound and processes are not important either, all you need is 2D or 3D animation. They are more effective than an image. Lots of options – and the perfect visual solution for every scenario.

We find the right visual solution to transform your assembly documentation or service and instruction manuals. We also develop training videos for product training sessions or manufacturing instructions, in line with the latest UX principles.

The benefits for you

  • Greater customer satisfaction thanks to clear, coherent instructions 
  • Less work for your customer service team 
  • Expert multimedia guidance for your technical products 
  • Integration with marketing on your social media platforms 
  • Your online presence is strengthened, also for SEO 

Our services

  • A holistic concept for your visual instructions based on optimal user experience design
  • Implementation using video, or using 2D or 3D graphic animations
  • Pre-production including user scenarios, navigation structures, and storyboards
  • Direction and filming including editorial support
  • Post-production: Editing, voice-overs, and, if necessary, integration of text
  • HTML5 for responsive output including video player design
  • Usability tests once development has been completed

Always up to date: the itl Blog (in German)

The latest news on technical documentation, translation, workflow optimization, terminology, and our company.

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Graphics production

Text and graphics – the communication dream team

“A picture is worth a thousand words” – this may be true, but try illustrating this simple sentence as a graphic. There’s a limit to what you can do with text, and that’s true of graphics too. But put them together and you have a dream team. Humans notice pictures much more quickly than text. By how much? By about 60,000 times. That’s the same as if you drove an incredible 90 times around the earth at 60 km/h. In other words, pictures are at least as important as text as part of your technical documentation because they are understood and processed at high speed. In fact, for some topics, visual elements are the preferred choice when it comes to making your technical documentation clearer and easier to understand.

We enhance your product documentation with functional visual elements so that your customers can understand the content more quickly and easily. There are numerous options available, each of which makes use of a specific approach.

The visual elements we use include: 

  • Technical illustrations 
  • Spare-part and exploded-view diagrams 
  • Conversion of photos to line drawings 
  • Greyscale and color graphics 
  • Schematic and functional block diagrams 
  • Infographics 
  • Sectional and composite drawings 
  • 3D product visualization 
  • Pictograms 
  • Product stickers, warning signs

Our services

  • Creation of graphics using 3D CAD data, product samples, or photographs 
  • Creation of individual graphics based on customer specifications 
  • Design development and creation of all the illustrations and graphics for your documentation 
  • Documentation of the design in a style guide 

The benefits for you

  • Graphics are eyecatchers and never fail to attract attention  
  • Their shapes, colors, and the white space around them motivate the reader and make text easier to read 
  • Graphics are noticed more quickly and are often more easily understood than text 
  • Graphics are not specific to a particular language and do not generate translation costs 
  • Graphics are a compact way to present information, saving space and money when printing multilingual instructions 
  • Graphics illustrate instructions so that all users need to do is to follow along. 

Pictograms

Here you can see an example of a pictogram system that we developed especially for a customer. The reader should understand the message within a few seconds. Learned schematic symbols that structure the content visually are used as an aid. They also provide excellent guidance for users when navigating webpages in apps or in online documentation. 

Our pictogram services include: 

  • Design of pictogram systems 
  • Individual pictograms, pictogram sequences 
  • User testing, style guides 

Request a quote

You can request a free quote here: 

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Documentation analysis with the itl DocuCheck

We rock the rules

Standards aren’t exactly known for their entertainment value. Sometimes, even just reading them is painful. But they do have their uses. They may be wooden and dry, but they are of enormous benefit when used in technical documentation. Not only do they prevent liability claims, they also enhance the value of your products with clear and coherent documentation too. That means happy customers and legal compliance at home and across the EU.

We review your documentation as part of a comprehensive document analysis or create new documentation based on current legislation and standards. And not only that: we share tips and tricks on the best way to deal with standards yourself.

The benefits for you

  • Compliance with standards throughout Europe 
  • Comprehensive legal certainty for your technical documentation 
  • Elimination of risks related to product liability in accordance with §823 and §434 of the German Civil Code 
  • Greater added value for your product thanks to clear and coherent instructional material 
  • Presentation of itl’s analysis and our recommendations 

Our services

  • Validation of compliance with standards and usability
  • New: Validation for accessibility
  • Validation in accordance with the relevant EU directives 
  • Validation of compliance with ISO/IEC/IEEE 82079 
  • Additional validation of software documentation in accordance with ISO 26514 
  • Validation of electronic documentation in accordance with the criteria specified by the ergonomics standards 9241-11, 9241-110 and 9241-112

Good to know!

Our experienced technical writers and our experts in documentation standards review dozens of technical manuals every year from almost every industry. Examples include technical documentation for products from industries such as automation, building technology, IT hardware and software, consumer goods, mechanical engineering and plant engineering, as well as measurement technology. The scope can be anything from 10 to 300 pages. Yet regardless of your industry or the size of your documents, you can be sure that in the end, itl will create technical documentation for you that is perfect in every sense of the word. And not only that: we share tips and tricks on the best way to deal with standards yourself.

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Get our latest guide to the 16 most important laws and standards now. Free to download.

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An introduction by co-author Dieter Gust to the itl standards guide

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Your contacts for smart content

Henning Mallok

Head of sales Germany

Andrea Wagner

Head of technical documentation department

What documentation concepts do you really need?

  • Do you know if some or all of your documentation can be converted from print to digital?
  • Are you aware of the benefits of a book-based information concept compared to a topic-based content pool? 
  • You want your customers to be fully informed throughout their customer journey. Do you know how that can be done?

And one final question on cost management:

  • Can new documentation concepts such as visual documentation save money and still make your customers happy?

Customer journey

Great companies make great products – but there’s always room for improvement

You want your customers to be satisfied. So, assuming that your customers are happy with your product, how can you take things a step further? Customers shouldn’t just be willing to recommend your product. You want them to endorse your company too. The key here – you’ve guessed it – is trust. Trust grows and flourishes if you are a reliable partner for your customers when they need you. Throughout a customer’s journey with your product, they may need your support in all kinds of likely and unlikely situations. Be a partner when it matters and show your customers – with content in whatever form – that they matter too.

Let us find out when your customers need what information, in what form, and how it should be presented. We can take care of implementation too. 

Our services

  • Analysis of the customer journey of your customers 
  • Technical documentation design as an integral part of the customer journey 

This includes: 

  • Media concept based on user experience design (itl UxD) 
  • Development of community concepts 
  • Mobile and multimedia documentation 
  • Development of wireframes and mockups for mobile devices 
  • Reworking of content to optimize digital adoption 
  • Planning and rollout of digital solutions based on HTML technology 
  • Programming of app solutions 
  • Production and integration of animated GIFs, videos, screencasts, and 3D animations 

The benefits for you

  • Customer satisfaction beyond the product 
  • Word-of-mouth marketing is strengthened 
  • Cutting-edge customer service whenever it’s needed 
  • Multiplatform technical documentation 
  • Media concepts based on user experience design 

UXD – blog article (in German)

Find out everything you need to know about UXD in Dieter Gust’s blog article “The future is now, and it’s called UXD – User Experience Design”

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Sign up for our newsletter and get the latest news on technical documentation, translation, software, and training.

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Digital documentation

The future is now

According to the German digital association Bitkom, eight out of ten smartphone users can no longer imagine their lives without mobile technology. The likelihood that those two users who could survive without their smartphones also happen to be your customers is 2 in 83 million. So, it’s virtually guaranteed that your users feel at ease in the digital age, with wall-to-wall availability of information and communication. Paper doesn’t have it easy these days. That’s why digitalization of your technical documentation also means creation of a digital assistant – so that each and every one of your customers is satisfied.

Our experts are happy to answer all of your questions on going digital with technical documentation. We develop custom strategies and tailored information concepts and workflows and are with you all the way to ensure smooth, risk-free implementation.

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You can find more information about our consulting services in the itl Pro Consulting section

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Visual documentation

Clarity and coherence with text and graphics in perfect harmony

Graphics are real all-rounders and make everyone happy. Users understand instructions at a glance and can quickly reach their goals. Manufacturers spend less money on translations too. For less complex products, text may not even be required at all. However, developing visual documentation or documentation with limited text isn’t always straightforward. You need an expert team experienced in technical documentation, visual communication, and technical illustration to carefully assess how to balance text and graphics appropriately – ensuring that you remain compliant with legislation and standards, for example, and eliminating the risk of liability. 

We’re happy to provide a free express analysis of the potential of your content so that you can see if you too can shorten your text by adding more graphics. Of course, we’ll let you know how this benefits your profitability too. 

The benefits for you

  • Greater customer satisfaction thanks to clear, coherent instructions 
  • Visual guides designed for digital use 
  • Reduced translation costs through hybrid solutions 
  • Purely visual guides for less complex products 

Our services

  • Free analysis of the potential for reducing text using graphics 
  • Custom concepts for visual instructions and for hybrid content with text and graphics 
  • Graphic design for individual images, sequencing, and complete document layouts 
  • Creation of the right graphic, photographic, or animated elements 

Interested?

Contact us today for your free analysis of the potential that balancing text and graphics can bring to your content: 

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Your contacts for smart content

Henning Mallok

Head of sales Germany

Andrea Wagner

Head of technical documentation department

New workflows in technical documentation: all’s well that ends well

If something is good, it’s hard to improve it. There are no exceptions to this rule. In technical documentation, it’s great when there are routine procedures, distribution of tasks has been refined over many years, and everyone knows what they need to do. The biggest impediment to improvement though is the fear of what introducing new technologies and workflows might mean for the daily routine. More work. And yes, this is true: evaluation of the solutions, workshops, learning curves, and helpdesks. Until the workflows become routine, the distribution of tasks is clear, and everybody knows what they need to do again. That’s what happens when good makes way for better. There are no exceptions to this rule.

Content management systems

A new content management system: the choice is yours

The huge range of offers and complicated selection process can often feel overwhelming for the unfortunate person who has to pick a new content management system. They all say they’re the best thing since sliced bread. So, how can you compare or choose? There’s no way around it: you have to find the right solution. Because one thing is certain: once you buy the software, you won’t be able to get rid of it so easily again. After all the money, time, and effort that you have invested, you can’t just press “uninstall” once you realize that your content management system isn’t really what you’d hoped for. The good thing is that software contracts don’t usually say “Till death do us part”. Not even in the small print. 

You can count on us to help you choose a content management system that suits your needs. That’s because we know the strengths and limitations of all standard systems. Together with you, we will create requirements specifications that provide the basis for your decision. 

The benefits for you

  • Short evaluation phase 
  • Verified and weighted goals as a benchmark 
  • All existing parameters are taken into consideration 
  • Optimization of existing processes (optional) 
  • A forward-looking solution that protects your investment 

Our services

  • Analysis of the initial situation: definition of parameters such as expectations, resources, budget, and technical interfaces 
  • SWOT analysis of the current content creation environment 
  • Analysis of process awareness at your company. Classification for the next steps using the Information Process Maturity Model (IPMM) 
  • Review of the work/scope involved based on one or more typical documents  
  • Prototyping for future processes and workflows 
  • Development of a map of system solutions 
  • Implementation of the new content management system including data migration and adaptation of modules and fragments 

Interested?

You can request a free quote here: 

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We’re here to help

Our Pro Consulting team provides expert guidance on setting up a content management system.

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Data migration

Great companies make great products – but there’s always room for improvement

You know it’s true, don’t you? It really is about time you set up a new terminology database. And a new content management system, desktop publishing format, or translation memory system would make things a lot easier. You could modernize your processes and improve data management so that your work could be completed more quickly and with fewer errors. And these are just some examples. But the thought of a complicated data migration process has dampened your enthusiasm for innovation or decision-making. The effort would be enormous. In this respect, you are right. But that doesn’t mean you should keep delaying the overhaul that your systems probably need. It’s time to get started. 

You can trust us to handle the entire project management process for migrating your data and information to new systems. And if you prefer to handle parts of the installation and migration yourself, we’re happy to lend our support with expert guidance. 

Our services

  • Planning and implementation of data migration for 
    • Terminology databases 
    • Content management systems 
    • New desktop publishing formats 
  • Translation memory systems 
  • Preparation of source content 
  • Data conversion 
  • Migration is almost fully automated 
  • Cleanup of duplicates 
  • Creation of terminology databases from scratch 
  • Design and implementation of individual data models 

The benefits for you

  • Implementation of the latest systems and development of faster workflows 
  • Reduced workload for in-house staff when changes are made to the system 
  • Seamless migration to new systems 
  • Compatible, consistent overall structures for technical documentation 

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Templates and macros

Using templates to quickly and easily achieve goals

Do you like creating templates in Word, FrameMaker, or InDesign? We’re willing to bet that you don’t. Nobody does. That’s because programming templates is difficult if you don’t have a lot of experience. In the time that you spend on it you would have already written all your content for the next year ahead of time. So instead, just tell us what templates you need and what they should look like (a sketch will do), and we’ll take care of it. Or if you prefer: try the itl DocuGuide!

Standard templates for simple, fast publishing

You can choose between standard or custom templates. We offer the following standard templates:

Word templates in your corporate design with quick parts, menu bars, macros, and other useful functions

  • Ready-made tables at a mouse click
  • Image and graphics objects with a legend
  • Insertion of text segments such as safety instructions at a mouse click
  • Complete action sequences for insertion
  • Custom quick-access toolbars and menu bars
  • Quick parts and numerous macros
  • Automated index generation
  • Stable document that won’t crash
  • Master pages for frequently used page layouts
  • Functional grid settings
  • Paragraph formats that build on one another
  • Character formats for highlighting characters or words
  • Fonts with the complete character set for the target languages of your documents
  • Object formats for uniform design and rapid formatting
  • Scripts programmed for specific tasks

Custom and workflow-driven templates

Premium templates are custom, workflow-driven templates that have been tailored specifically to your needs. They allow you to minimize the effort required to edit your documents while increasing quality. What’s more, the consistently structured layout and content of your documents makes them far clearer, faster, and easier to read for your customers.

We create comprehensive document templates for Word, customized to your requirements. The ribbon menu is adapted specifically to the available functions. This also provides the foundation for workflow-driven content. Your custom-configured templates and documents can be used and maintained for future use. And even after translation, only minimal adjustments are required to the layout, if at all.
So that we can deliver exactly what you require, we discuss the details with you during a specification workshop. We usually plan one to two days. The result is a document template in Word. Depending on requirements it includes:

  • Naming and definition of styles for character formats, paragraph formats, lists, and tables
  • Boilerplate content provided using AutoText, for example warnings in accordance with ANSI Z535.6 and/or ISO 3864
  • Macros and AutoText for ease of use, for example to insert graphics and other objects or define file properties
  • A customized ribbon menu with all the required functions
  • The template is freely customizable to your specific requirements

FrameMaker is far better suited than Word to the creation of workflow-driven templates. Of course, you can benefit from our experience with these templates too. That’s because we don’t just focus on the number of mouse clicks but on efficient handling as well.

To develop our FrameMaker templates, we use the unique itl Template Tool, which is not available anywhere else in the world. It helps us simplify both template documentation and template control, which in our experience, can save days or even weeks of effort when working on complex template projects.

itl can support you with custom developments and out-of-the-box FrameScript solutions. When developing custom templates, we use FrameScript or ExtendScript to program customized scripts.
Our out-of-the-box FrameScript solutions (some of which are free) are available from our [i]-frame portal.

You can find more information on our scripts in our blog articles “Free scripts from itl”, “[i]-frame in a nutshell” and “Optimizing FrameMaker”.

FrameMaker templates from itl offer the following benefits:

  • Implementation of your CI guidelines in workflow-driven, translation-friendly documents
  • Templates including compact template documentation
  • Sample books with standard chapters/sections on request
  • Clearly structured and documented templates
  • Master and reference pages
  • Samples for warnings
  • Paragraph, character, and table formats
  • Smart numbering sequences
  • Index sorting for foreign languages

There is no doubt that InDesign is the most advanced desktop publishing system available today. Due to its development history, InDesign is page-based rather than workflow or document-based – which we prefer at itl.

As usual, you can trust itl’s experts to help you develop your technical documentation using InDesign too. Easy maintenance and efficient handling for large documents are the cornerstones of every template we develop. And if there are problems using a mouse with our templates, we simply develop a script to solve the problem.

InDesign templates from itl offer the following benefits:

  • Implementation of your CI guidelines in workflow-driven, translation-friendly documents
  • Master pages for frequently used page layouts
  • Well-conceived grid settings
  • Paragraph formats that build on one another
  • Character formats for highlighting individual terms
  • Object formats for uniform design and rapid formatting
  • Easy-to-use layout templates

Automating workflows using custom templates

Publishing projects can be tedious and time-consuming. But they can be quick and simple too. And workflow-driven templates are the key. They can be used to automate a whole range of workflows. This is possible thanks to custom macros, scripts and plug-ins for Word, Excel, FrameMaker, InDesign, and other desktop publishing programs.

  • DTP programs are easier to use
  • Optimized workflows through automation
  • Reduced outlay for publishing projects
  • VBA, FrameScript, InDesign scripting
  • Workflow automation
  • Plugin technology
  • ADX Loader
  • Adobe FrameMaker Developer Kit
  • InDesign SDK
     

The itl DocuGuide: the competitively priced alternative to Word templates

Some publishing projects don’t need sophisticated document templates. All they need is clean, workflow-driven content that is easy to maintain. If that sounds familiar, then the itl DocuGuide for MS Word is perfect for you. The itl DocuGuide shows you what Word templates we have developed for our customers. It includes a document template that’s as good as complete, with a separate ribbon menu that you can use without the need for adjustment. Of course, you can update it to suit your needs at any time too. More on the itl DocuGuide 

You can use Word just as efficiently as you are used to with FrameMaker or InDesign: our custom ribbon menu and additional programming make Word a great tool for technical documentation.

You can control links to graphic elements in the same way as using a professional DTP tool. And you can happily ignore the integrated functions from Microsoft.

So that the Word template couldn’t be easier to use, we have built the instructions directly into the document template.

  • This provides an example of how to use the functions and styles
  • Pop-ups on the ribbon
  • You are free to customize the pop-up information on the ribbon menu in two languages (German and English by default) in an Excel file and use a macro to add your changes to the template by means of sophisticated reference logic.

There is no macro protection, and licenses are not linked to specific accounts.

You can make changes to the ribbon menu at any time using the RibbonX editor.

  1. As a license for an entire department: €690 plus VAT
  2. 20 % off in combination with our Word workshop: €550 plus VAT

itl DocuGuide Version 13 (in German)

Bridge the gap between MS Word and a content management system!

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Always up to date: the itl Blog (in German)

The latest news on technical documentation, translation, workflow optimization, terminology, and our company.

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Your contacts for smart content

Henning Mallok

Head of sales Germany

Andrea Wagner

Head of technical documentation department