Director, Global Technical Service Information
Company Name: AGCO
Name of Submitter: Charles Dowdell
Email Address: charles.dowdell@AGCOcorp.com
In 2012, AGCO global content started out as a true mixed bag. AGCO has finally consolidated 15 different authoring sites in one system and one information model. The difficulties and complexities of tying together a geographically distributed functional organization should not be underestimated. The AGCO GSIDS (Global Service Information Development System) has easily paid for itself and will continue to receive investment and provide additional returns for many years.
Take a full and complete inventory of the situation.
Some of the corporate diversity:
- 15 Authoring sites
- 5 Major brands (scores of supporting and legacy brands)
- 4 Continents
- 8 Countries (authoring)
- 140 Countries (selling)
- 5 Authoring languages
- 30 output languages
- Approximately 100 authors, globally
The first thing that has to be done is to fully understand if consolidation is worth it to meet organizational goals. In AGCO, yes, the overlap of content between our different brands, sites, products and user needs produces a significant amount of reuse potential. The reuse potential without any language translation may is compelling enough, with language translation leverage it becomes an imperative business case to consolidate.
Find the reuse potential. We made early assessments of perhaps 40% or 50% topic theoretical reuse. And then built a business case around the “easy to get” reuse. We planned/budgeted for 15% reuse of topics. If we could “lift” engine content in several sites without having to rewrite it we could “easily” get 15%. The 15% is relatively small percentage, (and only 1/3 of the assessed theoretical), but when you multiple that by the number of languages it quickly becomes very compelling. 15 languages times 15 percent becomes 225 percent savings. Very compelling, to the point you can start to see that you must do this.
But we were very conservative and did not build business plans around the 40 or 50% theoretical reuse.
Other companies can benefit by looking at potential reuse and then building a conservative business case around actually obtaining a third of the theoretical. In the game of reuse, we have to remember that everyone wins. There is a change management drive from every author’s personal interest. Every time an Author does NOT have to write something, the organization has saved money and become more efficient. Energizing the authors with a WIIFM (What’s in it for me) is the only practical way to facilitate the required change management process.
The other significant aspect on inventory analysis is in tools. Do you need a new set of tools, because you click (or not) with a particular sales person, or can identify with the brand (or not).
Our initial investment in this global system (100 users) was negotiated at approximately 300K including services. These economies were only open to AGCO because we were willing to change our political position on previously non-negotiable points regarding vendors and services providers. We were able to base our decisions not solely on past history as much as we did on future assurances.
2. Customer Focus:
Customer needs and delivery methods will change. What can you do to future proof your content?
Efforts to define and use personas of users.
Personas—Global efforts were undertaken by most sites to create personas. The approach was different in each site and belief in the process varied. It is the management thinking that getting folks thinking and focusing on who the customer/user is more important that the persona document itself. It is the embarking on the journey that opens the eyes not the destination. Just as when a hard created document is lost, a total rewrite surprisingly takes much less time as the original document.
Minimalism—At AGCO Service Information is in the function group closest to the users—service. The service techs communicate to the corporate service people. In our organization there is little filtering of user need compared to if we were in Marketing or R&D. The service organization knows that information *pays* and doesn’t *cost.* A refocus on reinforcing “service opinions” on user needs has been beneficial.
Continuation of minimalism training continues.
Dealer visits— Some author and supervisor dealer visits were made. Historically, having the technical writer meet with a dealer was forbidden due to historical roles definitions. This change of focus between Author and Document will continue to change to a focus more on an Author-User relationship.
The implementation of a central server based publishing system is a popular system undertaking today. There is no substitute of the upfront analysis of the business objectives and making sound business decisions surrounding the investment, risk and work associated with a large scale transition. The bigger the spend the bigger the decision and the bigger the risk. Although there are no two organizations exactly the same, a steady focus on conservative financial gains should not be disregarded over the appeal or apparent attractiveness of a transition that perhaps should have be avoided in the first place. In addition, the selection of a new tool or system is often not about a new software, system, or supplier. It is about the careful evaluation about “where things are” and “where are you moving things”. If the application of baseline thinking and sunk costs is carefully adhered to there are likely possibilities currently available that you initially have disregarded because of the blinders of emotional bias.
The team and management decided on whether to switch or cut bait. Do you keep the same supplier or do you find another –because you are smarter than before. All money spent previously needs to be considered sunk costs. Throwing good money after bad. Salvage and harvest what you can and move on. You have to start where you are. You cannot start where you think you are going to be. What email do you have to send? Better yet, what phone call or what personal visit will get you closer to your goal.
Recognizing local issues is a big deal. Everyone on the AGCO global team perceives other team members as strange in some way. With global corporations today we find a good share of conflicting team work because of ethnic pride, nationalism, and general distrust of someone who grew up speaking a different language and eating different food. The AGCO team managed to find and seek common ground. In technical information development globally and thankfully there is much common ground between the items our local teams deal with each day and the political environment in which we operate.
In the scope of the project there are numerous innovations.
o ATL Scripting for auto Upload (presented by Vera Williams at CMS Strategies Chicago 2015)
o 9 different output channels
o Change management, significant amount of travel is required
o Multiple language authoring management. The translated titles are used in topic searches.
o Clever development of tagging structures in converting a non-dita system to a dita system. (DCL and AGCO DCL Webinar June 2015)
o Setting out to do something new.
Configuration of the system to see translated metadata and topic headines so searching between sites/languages is possible.
Storyboard the reuse use- cases: Example:
Site Scenario Demonstration
Site 1 Primary authoring site creates publishes, and translates content.
- Author content in French
- Publish it to production
- Translate it to English and Portuguese
- Make the translated content available to other authoring sites for reuse.
Site 2 Secondary authoring site is able to import and reuse existing authored and translated content, is prevented from modifying imported content.
- Search system for authored content in Portuguese
- Upload content into new document map.
- Attempt to modify content imported
- System content security prevents modification
- Secondary site requests modification of content from primary authoring site.
Site 3 Content-only consumer of content searches for and uploads a document, then publishes it for Local Publish.
- Search for authored content in English.
- Upload document to client application.
- Publish content for print.
5. Transformational Value:
AGCO now has the stage set for more semantic information management. Requests come in from technical training, technical product Management for either content or interest in the participation of the information repository.
Including suppliers— Most (if not all) businesses today are highly depended on suppliers. Not only in delivery of a product or sub product to be resold, but by partnering in key processes to allow better reaction times between the two organizations. AGCO pursues these 3rd party suppliers and has successfully allowed third parties to Author in the AGCO system, even though they are in a county outside of AGCO factory countries.
Avoided bureaucratic highly documented ropes that cut off the circulation to a growing/evolving organization. AGCO has focused on a low cost, effective solution rather than “a boil the ocean” and scope a project so large the team and accountability changes before the implementation and realization of return on investment.
Management techniques are applicable to a situation model as follows: Management has to choose one of the following techniques depending on the situation:
- Process and procedures document and enforce = Stabilize
- Doing and expediting = Implement, Growing and innovating
Leadership is exactly the opposite of what folks initially think it might be defined as. Let the participants decide what to do and focus on the good ideas. Use and develop your own leadership style. Take leadership classes. It is far different that class in Calculus, Programming or a foreign language. It is extremely multidisciplinary and only you can develop your own leadership style based on what your authentic values are. Patton and Ghandi were both famous leaders and used totally different approaches.
- Willing to listen and fully understand different view points, no matter how strange they seem initially.
- Understand that the whole world is not American nor is English the native language of many of the folks you will do business with.
- Negotiate with the enemy.
- Encourage push back and differences of opinion.
- Show up
- Never Give up- Go-arounds are a valuable strategy.
- Most of a landing is the last 2 or 3 meters. Everything else is preparation.
- Make it “relateable” to common sense.
- Make sure everyone speaks and is also heard.
- The shortest distance between two points is not a straight line, Airline analog.