Our mission is to make editing manuals very simple, while enabling organisations to maintain full control. We’re like a Microsoft Word, but calibrating documents in real time across all users. We’ve automated the control of revisions and added a little compliance ‘magic’,” says Web Manuals CEO and Founder Martin Lidgard.
“We’ve accumulated a mass of regulations from the FAA, EASA and other authorities and incorporated them into the Web Manuals compliance library. It allows our clients to subscribe to changes coming out and see word-by-word any changes that will impact their business. It also simplifies audits by eliminating the risk of nonconformity.
“Once a document is published, it’s available through web portals, iPad and mobile apps, personalised notifications to individual recipients are available to track who has received notification of changes and interactive web documents highlight changes, drawing attention to the differences in the latest revision.
“In short, we help our clients improve control of documentation, simplify regulatory compliance and introduce a new level of operational agility. We offer customers the opportunity to become more efficient as they evolve their operation through commercial and regulatory changes. Ours is a very simple, web-based tool and our team is always ready to help new clients become established. The feedback we’re getting suggests customers make between a 70 and 90% time saving on writing, publishing and editing manuals.”
Lidgard was speaking at NBAA-BACE in October, where Web Manuals announced the opening of a New York office and a doubling of its US client base to 45 customers, since NBAA 2017. Most significant though, is a collaboration with PRISM, a wholly owned subsidiary of ARGUS International, launching an online store offering products that enable digitalisation.
PRISM’s ARMOR software suite enables customers to develop, implement and maintain compliant safety management systems, making it an ideal partner for Web Manuals’ compliance-friendly products. The first product on offer when the Web Manuals Store goes live in December 2018 will be a PRISM-managed Part 91 operations manual, packaging the expertise of PRISM’s team into a best-of-breed operations manual where regulation updates will be pushed out to operators. The document will be pre-linked to IS-BAO standards and other requirements, and based on Web Manual’s templates, so that users will be able to make their own, unique alterations, while continuously receiving and incorporating PRISM updates.
Web Manuals Philosophy
Speaking to EVA after the announcement, Lidgard said Web Manuals’ rapid growth has been in line with its projections, the company investing and working hard to expand its product penetration and making particular progress with business aircraft operators and flight departments. He notes: “When an operator begins working with us, we often see them spread digitalisation across their whole organisation, across flight operations, maintenance, safety, finance and even HR.”
At the same time, Web Manuals is always ready to listen to its customers and Lidgard recalls: “We had two or three existing clients asking how they could manage all their OEM manuals, which came to them in the form of thousands of pdfs on disks and which were often changed. They needed to share the documents and changes across their organisation and there previously hadn’t been a good solution.
“We created a strong offering where the content of the whole disk can be dragged and dropped into Web Manuals, where the structure of those documents is replicated. When updates are released, operators do the same thing, dropping the whole disk into Web Manuals again and the system recalculates what’s new, what’s changed and how to present that online, via iPad and so on.”
Access to Web Manuals editing and updating features is restricted to a prescribed group of individuals in any one organisation, but Lidgard says it’s also important to restrict which manuals an individual has access too. An operator might have thousands, even tens of thousands of manual pages in the system and for any individual with access to everything, the task of digesting updates would quickly become unnecessarily time consuming – Lidgard reckons a business aircraft operator might generate between 5,000 and 15,000 company-produced manual pages, plus many thousands more generated externally.
“Our system ensures those pages remain updated and compliant, and alerts the organisation’s responsible person to changes. They can track and trace the word-by-word changes in the rules and see where in the documents these have implications. It ensures operators have a means of staying compliant. When there’s an audit, there’s a client checklist function that generates a list showing regulation-by-regulation how the operator is fulfilling requirements.”
Web Manuals Store
Web Manuals is not a company to stand still. With its essential offering established and working well, Lidgard pushed to develop the Web Manuals Store. Why that product in particular? “Several partners had come to us looking to offer their services in different ways to our client base. We also had clients asking us to provide services and we’d explain we were software providers, not subject matter experts, but we were happy to link them to one of our partners.
“We’re delighted to empower the community by creating these connections, but what better way than to visualise it in our customer portal, where partners and customers can ‘meet’ directly and we just act as the facilitator.” Should a customer take the inclusion of a partner in the Store as a Web Manuals endorsement? “I’d say we’re mindful of who we work with. If we found a partner didn’t live up to the high requirements we set ourselves, we’d have to review their position. We might consider a peer review or rating system further down the line. But we’ve started out with the industry leader as our first partner, which demonstrates our ambition.”
Looking ahead to the next NBAA show, in Las Vegas during October 2019, will Web Manuals have doubled its US client base again? “High fuel prices, the pilot shortage and the fact that we’re probably past the peak of the past ten years of industrial growth means we can’t be sure what’s coming next year. Then there are regional factors, including Brexit, where it’s very difficult to see what impact they’ll have. There’s also an escalating pace of consolidation within the European regional airline segment, so there are lots of factors that could affect us.
“But we’re doing everything we can to achieve that same growth. From a technical and team-building perspective, having the processes and organisation to support that, then yes, we have that ambition.” n