I am interested in deploying software that can allow for the flexible writing of reports in a multi-user environment.
The deployment environment is a consultancy that provides professional engineering and construction services.
Often, as a member of the team in this consultancy, I am called on to manage the production of reports for clients. The reports contain a corporate structure and are based on a corporate template, so a report produced in one office will in theory have an almost identical appearance to a report produced in another office in the same or another country. The content can vary significantly and is dependent on the services required to meet the client's requirements.
Currently the consultancy uses a Microsoft Word template for this task.
Shortcomings of MS Word in this environment...
- Only one person can work within the report at any one time;
- Ongoing formatting wastes an enormous amount of time and should be secondary to the content.
What I am hoping to find is software that allows four or five concurrent contributors to work on content, in a fashion similar to the current release of Google Docs, and that allows contributors to concentrate on the content without having to worry about the format.
There is usually a requirement to include Tables, Figures & Images, along with Appendices sometimes in two or three separate volumes.
The intention is that the entire report is to be collated by the software and will prepare a Table of Contents, Table of Figures, Table of Images, Table of Appendices, and apply appropriate page numbering and formatting throughout the report.
A learning curve to use the new software is acceptable.
The primary operating system on workstations in the consultancy is Microsoft Windows 7 Enterprise. The consultancy does use Microsoft Sharepoint although it is yet to be implemented widely.
The consultancy would be prepared to pay for a suitable solution. It is worth noting that a higher purchase or subscription cost would require a more detailed business case to support the investment.