SAN MATEO, CA – Sometimes progress can be measured in a single word or phrase.
That’s the philosophy behind Astoria Software, a small (34-employee) company that offers on-demand content management for business-critical product documentation. Astoria offers XML content management—as opposed to document management— services through an object-architected content repository, allowing individual words, sentences and sections to be managed, tracked, re-used and translated.
“We offer a much more granular view, ” says Dan Ortega, Astoria’s vice president of marketing.
GE Healthcare, a $15 billion unit of the General Electric Company, first deployed Astoria software in 2001 in its Healthcare Ultrasound Division. This body publishes user information for more than 15 products in 17 languages annually. According to GE officials the company has saved $300,000 to $3 million annually in translation costs and accelerated its translation publishing time from three months to three weeks. As a result, GE will soon be employing Astoria software in its Healthcare Diagnostic Cardiology and Monitoring Divisions, as well as three other divisions.
GE officials point out that many products have long life-cycles, but the accompanying multi-page documents may need to be tweaked at regular intervals. The ability to edit single words or sentences rather than updating or translating the entire document, saves time and money.
“Being able to publish an operations manual in less than a month lets us launchour products in multiple markets simultaneously,” Jeanette Eicholz, manager of GE Healthcare’s Global User Ultrasound Writing Team. “(Astoria’s software is) flexible, robust, and easy to implement.”
Ortega says Astoria, launched in the 1990s, first targeted the aerospace and defense industries with a perpetual software license model — a model that 40 of the company’s first 100 clients are still using. When the market began to thin out, he said, Astoria targeted manufacturing companies, including medical devices. Its clients now include GE Healthcare and Siemens Medical Solutions, two of the larger players in the industry.
Astoria is poised to yet again modify its product. Sometime next year, the company will move away from its perpetual license model and launch Astoria On-Demand.
“Whatever you buy, your experience is defined by the product itself and documentation that supports that product,” says Ortega. “That documentation not on describes, but defines the product.”