Innodata Technical Writing Team Helps Company Reduce Costs by 30 Percent to 50 Percent
When a global telecommunications company decided to relocate parts of its R&D organization from North America to China, its technical communications team faced a major challenge: How could they continue to create effective and compelling customer documentation and meet fast turnaround times, when many of the key engineers were now located half a world away?
Producing high-quality technical manuals, training material and other technical documentation to accompany their equipment is an integral part of this company’s operations. These user guides and technical manuals — along with the products — form a vital element in the customer experience. And while the company wanted the team to embrace higher writing standards and faster turnaround times, they didn’t want to sacrifice the business benefits of having their technical writers close to their development personnel. At the same time, they needed to manage costs, an effort that would be made even more complicated by working across multiple time zones.
With large segments of the operation moving offshore, the telecommunications manufacturer recognized that it needed to build a team of technical writers who could collaborate closely with the engineers and other R&D experts. Rather than start from scratch and create a team internally, with employees who may not have English as a first language, they decided to outsource the work to a proven provider of editorial services — Innodata.
With its combined expertise in knowledge domains such as engineering and science, and technical documentation systems, Innodata was poised to step into the role. In fact, Innodata had already converted the company’s legacy technical documents to XML and developed style sheets, so there already was a strong understanding of the material and the production process. Moreover, with a presence in the Philippines plus a willingness to relocate technical writers to China, Innodata could also help the company achieve its goal of bringing the writers closer to the technical staff.
As a first step, Innodata set up a pilot project to establish an efficient workflow and manage client expectations. After assessing the product feature and functionality information provided by the customer, the Innodata team developed plans for updating existing information to reflect new features and functions. They also set an aggressive project schedule to ensure that the team would meet the client’s deadlines for delivering material.
The development phase followed best practices for documentation development, including research, document drafting, editing, review, approval and production. Having built new XML style sheets for the client’s technical communications teams, Innodata was already acquainted with some of the material as well as the key contacts within the organization.
At the same time, Innodata's expertise in technical issues also helped them get up to speed quickly on the content. They developed material that met the clients’ goals for consistency, quality and swift turnaround times. For the pilot, Innodata delivered two types of documentation files to the client: editable source files and secure Adobe Acrobat documents.
Since then, the telecommunications company has engaged Innodata on an increasing number of projects as they've become a key member of the company’s extended technical communications team. Within six months after completing the pilot project, Innodata was helping the company create and update client documentation for ten projects across three major product lines.
So far, results have been exactly what the client was seeking. Not only is the technical communications team well on its way toward achieving its goal of reducing costs by 30 percent to 50 percent, it is maintaining its reputation for meeting tight turnaround times while producing high quality technical documentation.
In addition, co-locating the technical documentation teams in both China and the Philippines has smoothed the collaboration process and created a stronger working relationship between the engineers and writers. Just as important, the high-quality documentation ensures that the telecommunications firm’s customers continue to use the products effectively, another important goal for the company.