Recently, I was privileged to talk with a customer that implemented Arbortext in 1999: Greg Johnson at Medtronic. Greg heads up what his executives have told him is “the most successful project Medtronic had ever done.” We’ve already talked about how dynamic information delivery systems can really drive down translation costs. This time we’re talking about what reuse brings to the table.

It’s important to remember that this is the value that Medtronic has come to after 10 years of investment in the dynamic information delivery system. They continued to develop it over time and to focus on the things that drive those numbers down.

What drives it down?

According to Greg, it’s reuse. Their reuse is at 90%. Their writers are reusing written, translated, validated translations that they can prove are untouched and reused as is.  In their system, they can certify, based on the validity of the system, that they are using exactly the same content. They haven’t touched it; there are no changes: they haven’t created a revision that triggers other processes and other costs.

They’ve seen the translation savings numbers trend downward for for years. However, even if you’re investing more for the authoring side, you still see the win in each language. You still see it even if you’re only producing documentation in English. You still get the win because you’re still reusing modules rather than rewriting, validating, and producing large amounts of content.

At Medtronic, just on the authoring side, the data is equally impressive:

  • Before: the first manual for a new model would see 95k new words.
  • After: new models have 55K new words; all the rest of the content comes from reusable modules.

Writers and management collaborate to plan documentation for new models taking care to look ahead to other models, so they keep getting win after win for follow-on products.

Today, Medtronic has over 100 models, with variations on features and things that are all over in terms of price points.  Greg’s team can crank out the manuals for new models right and left. All the features have been netted out to all 100 models and beyond.

Over the last 7 years, they’ve been tracking what it would have cost if they hadn’t had a dynamic information delivery system. They’re keeping a running total. It’s a long process to see the return on the up front costs, but the return is utterly dependent on the scope of the problem.

Greg doesn’t sugar coat it. He admits that it’s a painful process, a long fight, but there are awesome returns. “Reuse is king,” he says, “and you should push for it; don’t start on authoring side thinking you will band-aid in localization later, understand up front, partner with localization partners to do this right.”

See previous article: Dynamic information delivery systems reduce translation costs


Series Articles:

  1. Dynamic information delivery systems reduce translation costs
  2. The Benefit Content Reuse Brings to Business

Related Articles:

  1. Benefits of dynamic information delivery for life sciences
  2. The Quality Driver
  3. The Time to Market Driver
  4. The Cost Savings Factor

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