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General Frequently Asked Questions

What Is SmartProcedures?

SmartProcedures is a specialized application designed to let you create, manage, and distribute safer operational procedures faster. Storing XML-based information in a relational database for secure management and distribution, SmartProcedures provide a number of advantages over word-processed procedure files.


SmartProcedures leverage XML to separate format from content, so a procedure can be formatted for any output device. This prevents duplication of effort and saves time and money.

Built-in Version Control

You don’t need an external version control application with SmartProcedures, because version control is built in at the step and procedure level, ensuring current information at all times.

Centrally Managed

With SmartProcedures, you create centrally-managed templates to control structure and formatting, freeing procedure authors from the time-consuming task of applying formatting. Because authors can concentrate on more important issues, such as human factors, they can create safer procedures.


Because SmartProcedures are stored as steps in a relational database, it is easy to search for and reuse step-level content. This also makes it easy for users to access and use the correct procedure fast.

SmartProcedures is the specialized application you need to create, manage, distribute, and update structured operational procedures to help your organization comply with government regulations or business best practices.

About Creating Procedures

While you can use unstructured word processors to create many types of business documents, you also waste a lot of time - up to 50% of your time - applying formatting. SmartProcedures' structured authoring model provides procedure templates that enforce not only formatting, such as fonts and numbering, but also document structure.

Because SmartProcedures automatically creates many elements, such as cover pages, table of contents, and glossaries, using SmartProcedures makes creating procedures faster. With all the time you save using SmartProcedures, you can focus on what you do best, improving the clarity and safety of your procedures.

SmartProcedures lets content managers define templates to meet any need. Unlike word processing templates, SmartProcedures templates provide formatting and structure definitions. If your procedures typically use different structures, you can create SmartProcedures templates for each procedure structure, or type, that you use.

SmartProcedures procedure templates also differ from word processing templates in a unique way. SmartProcedures templates force use of formatting and structure, so all procedures of the same type are more consistent, making it easier for operators to find the information they need.

Many Microsoft Office products support XML. Supporting XML is not enough to ensure a structured authoring environment. With SmartProcedures, you can start using cutting-edge XML technology today to provide single sourced FlexViews without spending a lot of time developing a solution.

Authors spend less time formatting, and templates define structure automatically. SmartProcedures generates content automatically, such as cover pages, tables of contents, and glossaries. Global reference objects make updates fast and easy.

With other word processors, writers spend up to 50% of their time formatting. Since SmartProcedures templates apply formatting automatically, writers have more time to focus on safety and human error reduction.

In addition, the SmartProcedures step analyzer checks procedures for writing errors that can cause confusion, such as two actions in a single step, to help writers create better procedures faster.

About the Edit and Review Process

Managing editorial and content reviews is often challenging, especially in large or multi-site organizations. The following questions and answers show how you can use SmartProcedures to simplify and automate the review and approval cycle.

When you use the SmartProcedures solution for creating procedures, you tap into an automated review and approval (change management) workflow system. When you create or modify a procedure, simply send it for review, with the click of a button.

The workflow management system notifies reviewers by e-mail that a procedure is ready for review. The reviewer can then comment on the procedure online, systematically, using the SmartProcedures web portal.

When the review is complete, SmartProcedures displays the review comments in the author’s To Do list. The author can then easily modify the procedure and send it for further review or approval, all automatically.

Using the integrated change management system, system administrators can define the review and editing life cycle. Then any time a procedure is ready for review, it is routed among reviewers, approval authorities, and procedure authors until it is approved.

The system automatically notifies reviewers when a procedure is waiting for approval. If reviewers do not respond within the defined time, the system escalates the notification to the reviewer as well as a procedure sponsor.

About IT Integration

The following questions and answers discuss common IT management concerns.

Because SmartProcedures is primarily a web-based application, administrators and operators access it using a web browser with no local client installation required. The SmartProcedures Editor, used only by a few procedure authors, requires a local client. However, you can automate client installation using scripts or group policy.

SmartProcedures supports integrated Windows authentication, so your users don’t need to remember another set of credentials. And SmartProcedures requires no secondary credentials.

Hardware and software requirements depend on how many users you plan to support and are typically defined by the database software you use. For detailed hardware and software requirements, contact us with your use case.

About Current Data

When you plan to introduce new functionality, it is important to integrate with other systems and data sets. The following questions explore how SmartProcedures compares with other products and data stores in your organization.

SmartProcedures is not an enterprise content management system in the conventional sense. SmartProcedures stores procedures at the step level in relational database, so you can provide access to this critical safety and operational information quickly to operators on demand. SmartProcedures complements your content management system and works seamlessly with it.

Because SmartProcedures lets operators access the information they need in the format they need it with FlexViews, SmartProcedures provides procedure-specific improvements over paper-based documents and improves overall plant safety.

If you have data you would like to reuse with SmartProcedures, ATR can help you develop scripts so SmartProcedures can leverage your existing data and keep it updated automatically.

About Converting Procedures to SmartProcedures

When you are ready to move to SmartProcedures, you will want to consider how to manage your existing procedures.

To maximize your ROI with SmartProcedures, you should work with ATR to import all your procedures into the SmartProcedures database. ATR has a comprehensive system to help you convert your existing procedures into SmartProcedures so you can reap all the benefits of SmartProcedures, such as FlexView single sourcing, streamlined procedure development, improved searchability, and reusable procedure steps.

For more details about how ATR helps manage your conversion to SmartProcedures, see Procedure Conversion.

Depending on how well structured your current procedures are, you should be able to import them to SmartProcedures yourself with the Import Filter. However, ATR recommends working together to develop the best plan to convert your procedures so you can quickly benefit from using SmartProcedures.

About Ease of Use

Not all SmartProcedures users in an organization are computer savvy. SmartProcedures helps even inexperienced computer users get required information in the form that best meets their needs.

Because SmartProcedures stores procedures in a relational database, the product provides many search criteria to help users quickly find the procedure they need. For example, if operators do not remember the title, they can also search by author, physical plant location, equipment, process, keyword, or numerous other search keys.

SmartProcedures provides FlexViews, various ways to output procedures depending on the operator’s needs. For example, if they need a larger font to make the procedure more visible, you can create a FlexView that provides large fonts. If you want to add video demonstrations of performing a task in a training FlexView, you can link the video.

SmartProcedures provides many ways to deliver your procedures to different devices and media, so your users can easily get just the information they need, when they need it, in the format most useful to them.

About ROI

SmartProcedures provides continuous cost-savings that can dramatically reduce the cost of procedures over the lifetime of a procedure. After an initial uptick while you convert to SmartProcedures, the product saves you money continuously, when compared to your current procedure system. Typical overall cost reductions of 20 to 40% are possible, depending on a number of factors.