How VMware Overcame Its Scalability Challenge

When a company scales up its operations, it faces a host of challenges, not the least of which is how to maintain the quality and consistency of its content. For VMware, a company that provides virtualization and cloud infrastructure solutions and employs more than 22,000 people, this was a huge obstacle. That’s because it has over 120 technical writers who support its more than 400 releases a year. To maintain the quality and consistency of the materials associated with those releases, the company had to rethink its approach to content.

The Need for Change

Historically, VMware had five editors who were responsible for reviewing all of its technical content. But coping with the huge volume of technical documentation the company produced simply wasn’t possible. In fact, when VMware director of content strategy and operations Laura Bellamy reviewed the data, she found that the company’s editors were reviewing less than one percent of the documentation its writers were producing.

Further complicating things was the fact that there was a lot of volatility within the editorial team. Editors were coming and going, lots of new writers were being added through business acquisitions, and the company was relying on a variety of contractors and temporary workers to get things done.

Training and onboarding new employees and getting them up to speed wasn’t only time-consuming, but also a real business risk. That’s because as the company became more efficient, its cycle times for releases were shortening — from 6 weeks, to 4 weeks, to a current average of two. Occasionally, VMware even has a product that deploys twice a day. As such, it needed to quickly adapt its editorial processes to keep up with this relentless cycle.

Plus, because VMware’s existing approach wasn’t scalable, it also didn’t yield any additional value. There was no way, for example, to assess the overall quality of the company’s content across the entire enterprise. The good news is that it all began to change when the company started using Acrolinx to de-risk its content, distribute its talent more effectively, and access current data about its content to inform its business decisions.

Empowering Editors and Authors

Trying to have human editors review all of VMware’s content was a recipe for failure given the volume of content in question. By automating much of that work with Acrolinx, the company has been able to relieve its editors of the burden of making day-to-day repetitive corrections. Instead, the company has been able to redeploy them to focus on higher-value activities, such as taxonomy, classifications, training better writers, and successfully onboarding new team members. “There’s a lot of ways you can use editors once you free them from trying to cover that scale,” says Bellamy.

Beyond just greater efficiency, using Acrolinx has also led to impressive results: 73 percent of the VMware employees who have used the software say it’s helped them improve the quality of their content, while 60 percent say it’s made them more efficient content creators.

Acrolinx as a Risk-Management Tool

In terms of speed cycles, Bellamy sees Acrolinx not just as an editorial tool, but also for risk management. Using Acrolinx, she and her team can easily identify pieces of content that don’t meet their quality threshold, and then alert managers so they can address any issues. Automation speeds up the editorial process and allows editors to focus on the content that needs the most help. That way, instead of allocating time to improving content that scores relatively well, they can focus on the pieces that need the most attention, and thus better apply their resources.

“It really helped focus resources and attention on improving the content quality where it will have the most impact,” says Bellamy. “Acrolinx ensures we have a minimum level of quality verified before content goes out the door. And it helps us in emergency situations where you need to write it today and publish it by the afternoon.”

Data Collection Reporting and Transparency

A common problem for content managers is justifying their budget and their need for resources. General managers and business leaders need data to back up these decisions, and content managers have to provide it. VMware needed a data mechanism to measure results at a business unit level. It also needed the ability to slice and dice data according to its business reporting needs.

Acrolinx Analytics are fundamental to proving that content teams are doing a good job and attaining additional resources and funding. Real-time dashboards with data on content results ensure transparency, and are available to everyone in the company. “We needed to figure out a way to get a quantitative report on quality. It needed to be in real time since business leaders want to know what you’re doing now, so business decisions can be made right away,” says Bellamy. Acrolinx meets that need.

Technology Driving Strategy

VMware’s mission and charter is to “Enable, Empower, and Enrich.” By enabling its writing teams, and empowering them with data, analytics, and reporting, the company has been able to enrich its customer experience. Plus, by using Acrolinx data to drive its strategies at a high level, it has been able to evolve and scale up, while improving its brand voice, consistency, and business efficiency. To learn more about how VMware is using Acrolinx to empower its content creators, watch Laura Bellamy’s full presentation: