Outsourcing Solutions to Improve Efficiencies

Challenge

A large manufacturer of a broad range of consumer products was struggling to meet their demand for product literature.

Their struggle was compounded by the explosive growth that came both organically and through the company’s periodic acquisition of other companies, the result of which was an ever-increasing workload surrounding their release-driven product literature. Consequently, the in-house team was not able to adequately support the company’s ever-growing documentation needs. With product literature development lead times stretching even longer, and their costs increasing, the company decided that they needed a more effective solution.

After researching all of their options, the company decided that they needed to find a partner with the capacity and skills required to not only support their product literature needs, but also to collaborate with their in-house team to discover the best ways to address their ongoing cost concerns. The company wanted a partner that would provide fresh ideas that would help them align their documentation with the best practices of their industry.

Integration

After evaluating a number of firms, the company selected InfoPros for their pilot project. They made this decision based on InfoPros’ experience with consumer products; its investment in project management; process development and improvement, and a proven track record of reducing unit costs.

InfoPros provided the company with a project team made up of an InfoPros Project Manager, which included team members who had relevant experience (supporting companies such as The Home Depot, Kohler, and Lowes).

Following the success of the company’s pilot program, in which the InfoPros project team demonstrated their ability to not only provide the company with the quality documentation that they required, but also to quickly scale-up as necessary in order to support the growing workload, the decision was made to outsource all their product literature needs to InfoPros.

At this point, InfoPros expanded the project team by relocating one of their team members to the company’s primary product engineering location where they were able provide direct support to those engineers. This saved the engineers from needing to gather the source material required to develop their product documentation saving the company considerable amounts of time and money.

During peak workloads, the InfoPros project team was augmented by additional InfoPros staff that had been trained in regard to the company’s specific processes, allowing them to quickly ramp-up or -down in order to support the workload and ever-changing product release cycles.

The InfoPros project team was able to quickly integrate into the company’s business operations, which included team member participation in product training classes delivered by the company.

Process Improvements

Once integrated into the operations of the company, the project team was able to begin working with the company to help them implement a set of best practices by leveraging the project team’s extensive cross-industry experience.

The team noticed that there was minimal standardization across the product groups and that there was a significant opportunity to simplify many product documents, reducing the cost of developing and maintaining those documents while also making them easier to use and understand.

They also developed new templates for the different types of documents and manuals the company used most often, making them more graphical and substantially reducing the volume of text. This change made the documents easier for the company’s end users to understand while also reducing their development costs. (Another benefit was that less text also reduced the cost of translating documentation into additional languages).

By working collaboratively with each of the product groups within the company, the InfoPros project team was able to help them in the development and implementation of a standard set of processes and service levels to be used company-wide. This helped the company to establish a clear set of expectations for any of the departments involved in developing, reviewing, or approving documents.

ResultInfoPros

Within six months of their selection of InfoPros, the company was able to see meaningful and measurable improvements in both unit cost reductions and the time to develop new product documentation.

Other benefits that resulted from the improvements that InfoPros helped the company to implement include:

  • Reducing document development lead time, allowing the process to begin later in the product development cycle, which reduced the amount of re-work that had previously been a result of last-minute product design changes.
  • Enabling the company’s Engineers to spend less time gathering source material, allowing them to focus all of their energy into their core responsibility: product development.
  • Working with the company’s EMEA documentation group to establish global guidelines for all product literature, promoting a common look-and-feel for product literature worldwide while also increasing the reusability of content yielding even more cost savings for the company.
  • Implementing a charge-back program for InfoPros services, allowing each product group to see what they were spending, helping the company’s employees to be more cost conscious in their decision making as well as more open to process changes, especially when such changes reduce costs.
  • Reducing the average number of reviews necessary to get a new manual fully approved (from 4–7, to 2–3), saving time and money for each product group involved in the process.

Finally, InfoPros’ project management process and Client reporting has allowed the product owners, as well as management, to know the status of all projects and budget, minimizing the time that must be put into managing InfoPros.

 “Another fan. You and your team are doing a great job. It’s amazing what happens when you remove roadblocks and obstacles and let people do their job!”