Imagine this scenario. There’s a book that you read and it says great things on what you should do, when and where you should do it, and in certain cases, where certain things happen. You care about this book even though it’s getting a bit worn around the bindings and the cover but you know where everything is inside on its dog-eared pages. And just to make it easier to find those nuggets and gems, you’ve made some notes in the margins and turned down a few page corners. You also might have added some further wisdom of your own in the borders.
You’ve made this book very personal, spicing it with important information of value to you and you have read it and added yourself to its pages. You are able, as a result of your interaction, transferred that printed knowledge into real life current knowledge. It is more than simply learning the words.
This description will ring true for anyone who has ever had to read or revise a subject for an exam or a test. In our teenage years, we all probably did something similar with the Highway Code for our driving test.
Providing Detail – Reference Manuals
It’s probably reasonable to say that when a reference manual is written with a great deal of care and time is expended on making sure that the content accurately explains what it means. It’s therefore reasonable to assume that the content was written to impart this meaning in an unambiguous manner to the reader. Good operational manuals will certainly be created with these tenets in mind.
We know that operational manuals are extensive and may well appear, because of their content, technical and difficult to really get involved with. To compound this, manuals delivered in an iPad or other tablet screen format can be even more tedious. This reading and engagement inertia is exacerbated when the manuals are regularly updated.
However in order to run an operation like an airline the manuals need to be well written, well presented and, by necessity, regularly updated. They are also sizable with a typical airline General Operations Manual consisting of over 1000 A5 sides of text, graphics and illustrations.
Paper Manual Update - Personalisation
In the days of paper manuals, crews were issued with these and subsequent update packs of replacement pages when updates were released. The manuals were expensive heavy ring binders in order to keep the large chunks of paper serviceable in a working environment.
Users of these manuals invariably added their own bookmarks and notes, and these survived the updates as there were only a few updated sections or pages. The crew members could see immediately if their bookmarks or comments were being overwritten by an update and make a change at that time.
These notes and bookmarks were what helped make the manual content translate into knowledge; and knowing that there were often items of extra useful information in the manual created a value beyond the book itself to its reader. The fact that the annotations and additional content remained in the book was of vital importance. It was now a personalised support document that included aide memoirs to help it be remembered well and accessed simply.
Digital Manuals – Annotation Development
Up until now the ability to annotate an electronic manual was limited to the addition of bookmarks or simple hand drawn shapes. Such markings however, were obliterated when an update supplanted the existing document data. This made the ability to annotate and add personal value to an operational manual impossible thereby neutralising the ability to personalise ‘their’ book.
The Value of Employee Engagement
Improving employee engagement is a goal of every business. Individual and team performance is always better when a workforce is engaged. Individuals always perform better when they understand what they need to do to get the best result.
In the aviation sector this is no different and it’s basically how training works – engage your audience! If the workforce is fully aware of what they need to do and how they need to do it, they will provide the best result. It must follow therefore, that the more engaged your workforce is in your operation then the better the operation will be in terms of meeting or even exceeding its performance standards.
Operational manuals explain to the airline’s employees what has to be done to operate the airline in the safest and most efficient way whilst meeting compliance requirements. It therefore makes sense to believe that if the crews and staff are better engaged in their operational manuals then they will perform better and the airline will be safer, more efficient and will hit its compliance targets more easily.
Small Effects in a Population Make A Big Difference
Small effects across a large population will make measurable differences. For example only a tiny proportion, less than 0.001% of atoms need to be more aligned in a piece of iron for magnetism to be detectable. In the same way a small change in the way your operational workforce engages in the operation will make a big difference across productivity, compliance and above all safety.
Making Electronic Manuals Personal
This is the dream scenario for the user base. This is the small piece of magic that make electronic manuals valuable on a personal level. The applications for this technology are very intriguing when the value in training and training manual retention is considered.
Beyond the technology is the lasting value that the operational manuals, now annotated and bookmarked personally have on the user base. Where your operation may be crewed across cabin, flight and ground crew by a team running into the thousands of users. Then, the small change in the way in which instructions on the operation are understood can and does have a profound effect on the operation. Small changes multiplied thousands of times will be a large effect.
A workforce blessed with an employer that provides this level of tool to enable them to perform optimally will get better results from their team. The provision of a workable, solid and reliable annotation system will improve the efficiency, compliance and safety of your operation.
Vistair Innovation – The DocuNet Difference
Vistair has spent two years of re-thinking and re-engineering the way that manuals and manual data are delivered. Vistair has invented a new and powerful technology that both speeds up and enhances the user experience in managing their manuals and delivers features that provide a notably greater level of engagement for the reader.
On all other generally available platforms the incremental update of a manual requires the replacement of all or most of the manual with new data. Within Vistair’s DocuNet platform an update of a manual, whether it is PDF originated or structured data format is delivered as an enhanced delta file (‘incremental update’). This file only contains the changed material and control data to enable the reader application to place the update data in the right place.
Advanced architecture has been developed that enables this insertion of the update virtually instantly. It’s obvious that this has a huge benefit to the airline in terms of data costs and it means that the time taken to update a manual is minimal. This architecture also enables an additional meta-level of data for personalisation of the manual content.
Together with the innovative control structures around the manual data this enables the provision of some new novel features such as a recently launched form of annotation and personalisation not found in any other data or manual reader technology. It enables the provision of revision resilient annotations.
By revision resilient annotations we mean that these annotations can survive the update process of the manual, even in the event that the area annotated gets replaced.
In the case where a section is replaced by an update, which contains annotations, the Vistair document reader application will alert the user that there are certain annotations that have become orphaned and offer suitable places to reinstate them. This is better than the paper manuals as this is taken care of by the technology. Using and retaining personal annotations across the library becomes a joy as suddenly they are all still there after your update.
But this feature doesn't end there. Because the manuals are delivered to multiple platforms such as web, tablet and smartphone. Vistair decided that the annotations should be held under the user’s account in the cloud. This means that when a user annotates a manual in one device, then that annotation appears in all their other devices.
This powerful feature, sounds similar to features you might find elsewhere but it’s subtly different, cloud-based and persistent. The persistence makes it at last, useful. It’s so useful that the uptake by the Vistair DocuNet user community has been astounding. Within a month of launch there were nearly a million annotations in use across the user community.
continuous improvement, development and innovation
Vistair continues to work on adding new innovative magic to its technical solutions in order to exceed our users’ expectations. Additional technical solutions will be released during the year that will further support staff and crew engagement with their respective airline operation.
Producing and delivering innovative and thoughtful features in order to enhance our client’s user experience is at the heart of our design approach. At Vistair we want to make the lives of aviation clients easier and in this our software and overall interaction should be a pleasure; after all engagement starts with communication, both verbal and non-verbal - and in the case of manuals, the narrative.
Want to learn how a partnered document management system like DocuNet can help save your airline money and improve the lives of your employees with features such as resilient annotations? Download our free interactive guide to find out.
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