Rockwell Automation is a global provider of industrial automation equipment that’s been serving the food and beverage, entertainment, and manufacturing industries, among others, for over 100 years. Like most companies, the Milwaukee-based business is always trying to produce more with less. For its technical and marketing communication teams, that’s meant not only keeping up with a growing demand for great content, but also making it available in a variety of languages.
As a global company with more than 20,000 employees worldwide, creating and maintaining high-quality, consistent documentation has always been a top priority at Rockwell. Given the international nature of the business, so has managing translation costs.
When Rockwell decided to upgrade its outdated translation management system, it realized that finding a better way to rationalize its terminology while also improving the quality of its source content was going to be the key to more cost-effective translations.
Enter Kathleen Ruggeri, Rockwell’s Manager of Information Architecture and Content Strategy, and the person tasked with solving this problem. When Kathleen began looking for possible solutions, she discovered an article written by Val Swisher, the Founder and CEO of Content Rules, and one of Acrolinx’s implementation partners. She soon concluded that our content optimization platform could help. After learning about Acrolinx, she found out that we could help her company automate many of its content creation processes, including its terminology management, as well as create better, more consistent content that would be easier and less expensive to translate.
Eventually she signed up Rockwell to start using the platform.
Rockwell’s Path to Acrolinx Adoption
Once Kathleen decided to make Rockwell an Acrolinx customer, the first thing she did was to initiate a pilot program to start rolling out the software on a limited basis. She selected a small team of writers and editors that spanned the company’s marketing and technical communication teams. Then she organized some basic training for them, and let them use Acrolinx for several months using the software’s out-of-the-box settings and rule sets.
Taking this approach had several advantages.
First, it allowed her to obtain a lot of feedback about what worked well for Rockwell’s writers and editors, and what would require customization to align with the company’s unique writing and terminology guidelines. All of this intel would later go to good use when she rolled out the software more broadly with custom rule sets. It also helped justify that wider rollout to the rest of the organization because she had real data that she could point to about how Acrolinx was helping to improve Rockwell’s content.
The last and perhaps biggest advantage of Kathleen’s approach was that she was able to transform this group of early adopters into super users of the software. They ultimately served as ambassadors to the rest of the company, acting as resources to the other writers and editors who started using Acrolinx after them. Doing so meant that they were available to answer questions and provide support, while also helping ensure that there was some momentum and enthusiasm within Rockwell for adopting the platform.
Another tactic that Rockwell used to great success was turning one of their editing resources into a full-time Acrolinx admin whose job was to help manage the software across the organization. That person was in charge of managing various aspects of Acrolinx, such as updating the terminology library it used to keep up with Rockwell’s ever-changing requirements, responding to questions, and ensuring that everything ran smoothly.
Rockwell ultimately had a fairly large Acrolinx deployment, with 75 professionals using the platform across the enterprise. Although there were many moving parts, Kathleen and her team decided that their mantra was going to be “happy adoption,” and they did a great job of making that happen thanks to their well-planned implementation. Swisher attributes the successful implementation to being well organized and taking the time to customize the approach for Rockwell’s specific situation.
Today, Rockwell checks more than 300 docs — the equivalent of about 2 million words — every month using Acrolinx. The company’s writers and editors use Acrolinx diligently and have seen significant improvements in their content as a result.
One of the biggest advantages has been that with Acrolinx, Rockwell has been able to simplify its terminology management. Whereas in the past writers would have had to manually confirm that they were using the right terms by consulting a spreadsheet with thousands of options, today Acrolinx helps ensure that they use the right terms seamlessly within the content authoring tool that they’re using.
Thanks to this and the general improvements in content quality, the company has been able to reduce its translation costs. For example, the manuals that Rockwell has been producing since it started using Acrolinx have on average 65 percent fewer flags during the translation process, which saves both time and money.
Kathleen couldn’t be happier. She and the writers and editors at Rockwell Automation feel like they’ve made an important investment that’s helped make their team more efficient and effective.