In an atmosphere of consolidation among vendors in the marketplace, you are informed that your current content and document management solution will no longer be supported by the company from which you bought it. With more than ten thousand active documents to manage and keep current for your business, you are faced with shopping for a new solution. Your needs include managing redundant content sections across multiple documents, tracking changes in real time among writers and project managers, consolidating content in print publishing to reflect changes, and combining multi-lingual content sections from various documents into a single document.
by Kohler Co., who found themselves in this situation over the past year. But the company chose to view it as an opportunity to improve their systems. "It was really an issue of moving from a document management solution to true content management," says Mark Peterson, manager of technical communications with Kohler. "We wanted to go to the next level versus just replacing the current capabilities."
Kohler Co. manufactures a comprehensive line of kitchen and bathroom plumbing products—faucets, sinks, toilets, and accessories. For these products, the company produces a substantial amount of documentation from a wide range of internal sources. The documentation is needed in print format to be packaged and shipped with each product. After all, the plumber doesn't generally bring a laptop to the job site to review the installation guide for your new toilet or faucet.
Reinventing the Workflow
Kohler presented an interesting challenge to potential vendors. In this Web-enabled world where the focus tends to be on digital publishing, some content management players didn't stack-up when print publishing was a driving force.
The need for current and accurate documentation supporting each product is critical to Kohler's customers. Every product requires a series of supporting documents—from specification sheets, installation manuals, warranty and care information to owner's guides. Being a design-oriented company with a continually updated product line, the result is over 10,000 active documents to keep current, each subject to random and ongoing revisions.
While every product requires its own unique documentation, a large part of the content contained within each product's documentation can be shared across similar products. For example, faucets offered in various finishes or with different handle designs may have identical drain assemblies. From a content management standpoint, identical content should be managed in one place even though it appears in numerous documents across the system. From a document management standpoint, the answer wasn't always so easy.
In the past, when a change needed to be made within a document, from a single word to a paragraph, each document containing the information needed to be opened separately for the change to be made. This process was time-consuming and introduced potential formatting issues into the final printed version. Faced with the need to invest in a new system, Kohler's Technical Communications department defined the criteria to streamline content management across all documents, increase efficiencies between internal resources with improved workflow and management capabilities, decrease print pub- lishing costs, and consolidate multi-lingual content components within a single document as needed. The data had to be stored in Oracle within a UNIX environment supporting XML storage and output.
In addition to technology and feature requirements, Kohler also wanted a vendor that could bring the expertise of consulting and implementation services to assist them in migrating from the old solution to the new one and that demonstrated a keen understanding of the print publishing needs of the business.
Everything and the Kitchen Sink
vendors in the marketplace, Kohler found that "there was a world of difference between how each vendor addressed content management. Between players in the market there is even confusion about what content management is," says Peterson. Because Kohler had clearly defined what they wanted and needed from a content management system, they were able to quickly narrow the field of vendors and make a final decision: Xyvision Enterprise Solutions, Inc.'s Content Management solution comprised of the Content@ Content Manager and XML Professional Publisher (XPP).
Content@ Content Manager is both a content and document management application that provides a workflow tool, the ability to manage content at any level (down to a single word) and across multiple documents, track revisions of content, and publish to multiple sources. With Content@, Kohler now has the ability to see all documents that are undergoing revisions, lock out other writers from publishing that content until completed, and view which documents share content in order to maximize on efficiencies. With Content@, entire documents and their components are stored in a dynamic database repository as reusable information objects. Documents can quickly be assembled or edited from the content components so the reuse of approved and accurate information for derivative publications is channeled through the workflow at greater speed.
As print documentation is key for all Kohler products, the content management system combined with the sophistication and powerful publishing capa- bilities of XPP rounded out the solution. For Kohler, 90 percent of all product information is provided on paper first. This information, plus the remaining 10 percent of other data, is then made available via the Web in Portable Document Format (PDF). With the XPP formatting and publishing application, documents created and compiled through Content@ can then be published in various media including Acrobat PDF documents or Web pages.
Kohler found XPP's composition controls and batch composition features particularly attractive. XPP's batch composition automates the workflow by composing, paginating, and formatting the imported text or content components and graphics in addition to creating tables of contents, indexes, footnotes, and tables from the imported materials. The composition controls allow Kohler to create user-defined macros or business rules to automate functions such as merging multiple language content components within a single document.
XyEnterprise not only had software that met Kohler's demanding list of needs, but also consulting services to help implement and support the new system. "We were able to leverage the data management and internal business processes knowledge that we have within our team's background. From manufacturing and aerospace to high-tech, that internal knowledge and experience helps us put in place a cost-effective solution," says Rich Pasewark, vice president of sales and marketing at XyEnterprise. "We were able to understand the challenges at Kohler and help structure business rules and logic using features and customization that would have a useful impact."
Reaping the Benefits
The efficiencies gained in managing content at the section level across all documents at one time have had a dramatic effect. Instead of trying to track each and every document that might have a particular paragraph, sentence, or word change—opening each document to make the change—a writer can make the edit in one place and all documents utilizing that section of content are updated at once. As a result, editors can check multiple documents for redundant edits or updates can track changes more efficiently.
The paper and print publishing cost-savings that Kohler forecasted when formulating the decision to go with XyEnterprise have proven to be better than anticipated. Notes Peterson, "while we have experienced a 30 percent savings on internal staff time, our print cost-savings have dwarfed that." Peterson attributes this to numerous facets of the Content@ and XPP software, but primarily XyEnterprise's batch composition feature and composition controls that facilitate print publishing.
One example in which XPP has established savings in both print and operation costs is in the consolidation of multi-lingual documentation for each product. Previously, a product would be boxed at the warehouse with the accompanying documentation in either English or Spanish. If documentation in the wrong language was accidentally sent, the customer would need to call Kohler's customer support line and request the documentation in the proper language. Kohler would then send it out overnight.
With XPP, each product can have a defined set of business rules for documentation—one function being what languages need to be provided within the documentation for the specific product. Through the GUI composition, the required content for the documentation in the required languages can be aggregated into a single document including multiple languages instead of English-only or Spanish-only sets of documentation. The result is a cost-savings from eliminating the potential for customers receiving documents in the wrong language and the costs associated with correcting such an error.
Expanding on Success
The success that Kohler has enjoyed with XyEnterprise Content Management end-to-end solution has only begun. While print publishing will remain the top priority and drive the demands placed on the system, Kohler has not shied away from taking advantage of the powerful features that the platform brings to Web production and publishing. The XML data capabilities have already provided a faster process in publishing PDF files to the Web for clients to download as needed. Looking to the future, Peterson can see utilizing these same capabilities to provide customers with the ability to obtain on-demand customized instructions based on their specific product combinations.
With XyEnterprise's products and services, Kohler Co. has been able to leverage the power of effective content man- agement to realize cost-savings in the management and delivery of content across both print and Web publishing and decrease the amount of time required to provide core technical information vital to their clients.