Standardisation is a vital part of modern business. It supports efficiency and quality assurance in industry, technology, science and the public sector; helps safeguard people and property; and improves quality in almost every area of life. Studies have shown that standards generate economic benefits estimated at almost € 17 billion a year in Germany alone.
That is why the work carried out by the German standardisation institute, Deutsches Institut für Normung (DIN), is so important. Founded in 1917, DIN is the independent platform for standardisation in Germany and international organisations such as CEN, the European standards body, and ISO, the International Standards Organization. It is comprised of roughly 18,00 committees, all of which look at different standards from construction and buildings to information technology and acoustics. Each committee plays a significant role in helping innovations come to market by producing standards. A standard is a document that specifies requirements for products, services and processes — helping ensure the free movement of goods and encouraging exports.
Collaboration on the production of standards between DIN’s roughly 36,000 experts is essential. The organisation has always relied on a document management platform to facilitate that collaboration and ensure experts have access to the correct version of standards documentation.
DIN’s legacy document management system, however, had been in use for around 25 years. While it had once been effective, it the previous provider was no longer supporting its service. DIN’s experts – taken from a broad cross-section of German industry - needed a system that better met their collaboration needs.
The previous system was antiquated and lacked key functionality, such as the automatic watermarking that is an essential element of standards. As the vendor was no longer supporting DIN’s evolving document management needs, the management team decided it was the right time to find and implement a more modern content services platform.
We needed a modern content services platform that is scalable and flexible to meet our needs today and as they evolve in the future.
Although a majority of DIN’s experts were based in Germany, their work was often international in scope. Not only were they working on standards for the German market, but they also collaborated with colleagues at CEN and the ISO, working to ensure German standards dovetailed with international standards. This made it essential for any new system to enable meaningful collaboration at a European and global level just as it did at a national level, according to Claudia Altmann, business project manager at DIN.
“We want to make it as easy as possible for our experts to collaborate on standards, both in Germany but also internationally. We work closely with the European and global standards institutes, and everyone needs to be working with the same information. We needed a much more modern content services platform that is scalable and flexible to meet our experts’ requirements around easy and intuitive collaboration,” Altmann said.
Because it was such an important and strategic technology implementation, DIN approached the vendor selection with the utmost thoroughness. Together with ISO, DIN undertook a rigorous selection process wherein three leading content services platforms systems were assessed against a range of specific requirements and functionality. These included the automatic numbering of documents, automatically creating a document with a title page, creating a PDF from an original document and watermarking documents.
DIN also needed the new system to send out notifications to experts, containing a link to the most up-to-date standards document. This was particularly important as collaborators might be working on several different documents simultaneously and sending comments and feedback to the committee secretary. It is imperative to ensure that experts are working on the most recent version to avoid errors and needing to re-do work.
Overall usability was a critical factor in the selection of the new system, according to Claudia Altmann.
“We wanted to get users fully on board with the new system and hear their feedback as to its usability. This included retaining some popular features from our previous system but also assessing the new platform and what features and functionality people want to help with future improvements.” Altmann said.
Hyland’s Nuxeo Platform is a cloud-native and low-code enterprise content services system, used by organisations worldwide to build content-based applications faster and smarter, was a clear winner. DIN subsequently began the implementation process in 2020.
However, attempting an implementation of new technology during a global pandemic was not without its challenges. To aid the implementation, DIN was supported by Sword Group, the international consulting firm, as Matthias Wald, IT project coordinator, DIN, explains.
“Sword was an important partner in the implementation, with a strong understanding of how Nuxeo works and how that relates to our requirements, and a strong background working on similar implementations. The project was focused on delivering better experiences to our experts when working on standards documents, and we are well on the road to achieving that,” Wald says.
Sword helped build and refine the Nuxeo system within DIN, adding certain features and functionality that were most important to DIN.
There are three national standards committees currently using Nuxeo Platform within DIN as part of a pilot program, ahead of a planned wider roll-out. Initial user feedback has already been positive, and DIN’s experts have found the new system to be intuitive and user-friendly, in addition to having the automatic number and other features that DIN prioritised.
The new system is a highly scalable platform that DIN will use for worldwide collaboration . Altmann feels that the selection of Nuxeo Platform has already been an astute decision for DIN.
We are confident that Nuxeo will be an important partner to DIN both now and for many years in the future, Altmann said.