Introducing Video Documentation
at Bosch BT

About the Project

During my 6 month internship at Bosch Building Technologies (BT), I worked on a concept for how-to videos. The company was publishing their software documentation in PDF format and as on-screen help. The idea was to establish a new format in addition to the existing docs: Use case-oriented videos to guide the user through a specific task.


Screenshot of the BVMS recording settings dialogue.
Fig. 1 - BVMS offers many settings to configure recording schedules.
Source: BVMS 10.0 manual

Bosch BT sells a range of surveillance cameras and software to manage them, which is called BVMS (Bosch Video Management System). Since BVMS aims to be a solution for everyone, from small shop owners to video operators at an airport, it has a lot of different functionalities and is rather complex.
In fact, the complexity is so high that customers can book specialized training courses to get their use cases optimally covered. The documentation is a PDF with more than 300 pages and describes what each and every button does, rather than focusing on tasks. That might leave the amateur video controller with more questions than before. To fill this gap, I came up with a concept for user-centered how-to videos.


The project had two goals:


The project took about 4 months from collecting use cases to the first upload. I'll explain the process and which problems I had faced in the following paragraphs:

  1. Gather use cases
    To create a backlog of possible videos, my supervisor spoke to the product manager, customer support, trainers, and local market managers.
  2. Select use cases
    Together with the product manager, my supervisor selected the most important use cases. I worked on the use case: 'As a configurator, I want to set up motion recording for nights and weekends so that I can save storage'. With motion recording, the camera only writes to a hard drive when it detects a moving object. The video walks the user through a configuration scenario for nights and weekends.
  3. Write a script
    Script for the video
    Fig. 2 - Script for the video
    A script helps to record and edit more efficiently because you need to think about the concrete steps in the correct order. My template contains four columns:
    1. Instruction: This column mainly serves as guidance for the creator. I inserted the steps from the documentation to outline the general structure.
    2. Comment: This column provides additional information that is not obvious from what you see on screen. I placed callouts in the video based on the comments.
    3. Sequence: The sequence column is used for the actual recording. U means user and describes the steps I performed during the recording session. S stands for system and describes outcomes.
    4. CC: CC is short for closed caption. I provided subtitles so that an audio file can be recorded if desired. Furthermore, search engines can index subtitles, and therefore, promote findability.
  4. Create and edit video
    Before recording, I made sure I had the necessary equipment (camera, encoder, and storage). After a dry run, I recorded one chunk at a time to make editing afterward easier. I used Camtasia to record and edit the video, as it was designed to create screencasts efficiently. The editing process was straightforward, so I won't go into detail here. Feel free to reach out if you want to know more.
    Editing the screencast with Camtasia (2018)
    Fig. 3 - Editing the screencast with Camtasia (2018)
  5. Create a style guide, templates, and work aids
    There was no specific style guide for how-to videos, which is why I created a new one based on Bosch-specific design rules. To facilitate the video creation process, I provided a template for the script, as well as reusable elements for Camtasia, see fig. 4.
    Creating a style guide
    Fig. 4 - Creating a style guide
    Since my goal was to enable every tech writer to create how-to videos, I created an in-depth video creation guide on the internal wiki. It covered everything from writing the script to basic editing techniques and advice on using the style guide and templates.
  6. Ask for feedback and incorporate it
    I was asking multiple people to provide feedback to get many different aspects. I included my supervisor, the product manager, UX designers, marketers, and users.
  7. Final upload
    Since the marketing team was in charge of the YouTube channel, I handed over the video, the closed caption file, and suggestions for hashtags. Feel free to have a look at the final video.
    Fig. 5 - Upload on YouTube (source)

Implementation challenges

Since I introduced how-to videos as an addition to the existing docs, I had to do some groundwork and encountered these challenges:


I reached the first goal, as the video provides a step-by-step tutorial for new users.
The second goal was to enable tech writers across Bosch BT to create their own videos which I did by documenting the video creation process. Furthermore, I facilitated video creation by providing video editing templates. However, it did not lie within my power to decide how many videos should be produced, since the managers are in charge of capacity planning.
I also tested the how-to video in a documentation user test. The screenshot below illustrates the potential applications and benefits of this new form of documentation. The customer support even turned my video into a knowledge base article (long after I was gone).

How-to videos are beneficial for multiple audiences
Fig. 6 - How-to videos are beneficial for multiple audiences

Lessons learned

Communication is key. Getting everyone on board requires a lot of talk and negotiation. Sometimes, my stakeholders would feel left out of the conversation because I wanted to push forward when they needed more context. I learned to address all involved stakeholders and listen to them. This way, I overcame internal resistance and got valuable feedback.

Version control is a challenge. To speed up the video creation process, I provided templates. During this project, I focused a lot on the editing process but did not think of a workflow for updating templates. As it turns out, importing and using templates in Camtasia 2018 is a manual process. When a template changes, you need to replace all elements by hand - a tedious process. In retrospect, asking questions like "How to incorporate changes in tool XYZ?" and "How will I make sure everyone uses the same version?" would have gone a long way.

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