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Technical writers supported with software. This is the philosophy that we have already successfully implemented for hundreds of customers using the standard versions of our software. But no matter how much experience we gather, there will always be too many individual requirements for the standard versions of our software solutions to fully satisfy. It will come as no surprise that we have also developed a solution for these situations.
Everything that you can see and do in our software can be customised. We even have a department of nearly 40 people dedicated to software customisations: SCHEMA Solutions. In fact, the Schema Solutions department is pretty much the same size as our Product Development department. Yes, you read that right: we believe in clearly separating the realms of project development and product development, with the work of both departments valued equally as highly. By maintaining this distinction, it means that solutions projects do not hamper the pace of product development. The two departments can function without having any impact on each other whatsoever. This applies to both SCHEMA ST4 and SCHEMA CDS.
This is the question we ask ourselves before every project. At the end of the day, the customisations we make need to benefit our customers – and not every customisation is suitable. In order to answer this question, our project managers keep in constant contact with the customer from the initial enquiry right through to completion. As our software already offers an extremely comprehensive range of functions, a joint analysis of the customer's needs can often lead to the conclusion that no customisation is needed at all – the standard version is perfectly sufficient. In these instances we will happily show the customer how they can configure the standard software themselves, or apply the relevant settings for them as part of a project. The product itself is not actually changed: the name of the game here is parametrisation. We help our customers to achieve their goals, such as creating layouts and workflows in ST4 or taxonomies, facets, access models or branding in SCHEMA CDS.
Customising begins when the existing functions and options cannot meet the customer's needs – additional functions are added to the software accordingly. This becomes necessary for ST4 and CDS when special interfaces need to be integrated or there are particular business processes that need accommodating, but automation solutions and special data imports/exports are also quite common. Before our solution is accepted by the customer, every customisation is thoroughly tested by our software testers to uncover any bugs and ensure the final version is as clean as possible.
Taken to extremes, we in SCHEMA Solutions would be able to completely rebuild SCHEMA ST4 and SCHEMA CDS, but that's certainly not what we want, and definitely not what you need. If we determine that somebody wants to unleash the full potential of their sports car out on a race track, then we would of course lower the suspension.
“I'm pulled in multiple directions, having to balance the interests of every stakeholder, be responsible for the SCHEMA project, communicate and verbalise technical facts and human sensitivities, and be the initial point of contact for the customer. It's an exciting role that I enjoy very much.”
“Everything I do is geared around content delivery. I work on projects for existing customers, trial installations and implementation projects where SCHEMA CDS is to be rolled out, including the SCHEMA Portal and SCHEMA Reader as necessary. We make sure that we are all pulling in the same direction with the customer. From SCHEMA's perspective, we usually work as a combination of all three roles of Sales, Solutions and Development when it comes to CDS.”
“As a software developer, I help the project manager to analyse individual customer requests for ST4 and implement appropriate solutions. For us developers in the Solutions department, every day brings a new challenge that we need to overcome. It's this variety that I find so enjoyable.”