for translations through content reuse and streamlined management
Outputting manuals to responsive web format
Streamlining translations into 28 languages
Inability to reuse content efficiently
Regaining flexibility of DITA content
Published DITA content to many platforms, including PDF and responsive web manuals
Reduced translation costs by 25% by streamlining management time and redundant translations
15% increase in content reuse in six months
Created a single source for content, eliminating use of unstructured content
Migrated 90K pieces of content from existing CCMS
In 1908, a young inventor named Stephen F. Briggs teamed up with investor Harold M. Stratton. More than 110 years later, Briggs & Stratton remains a company known for its innovation. The company specializes in a wide range of outdoor and power equipment, including generators, snowblowers, and small engines that power some of the world’s top lawnmower brands.
For many years, a team of writers at Briggs & Stratton created manuals for these products using DITA Open Toolkit (DITA-OT) to create XML data, which the company transformed into PDF for print and digital viewing. Because the company specializes in many outdoor products, the company decided that it should also release manuals in a responsive web format so that customers can easily browse manuals on mobile phones.
What Briggs & Stratton discovered was that delivering its existing DITA content to web would not be easy. The company had created numerous complex customizations to the DITA-OT package over the years to work around limitations in the former component content management system (CCMS). These customizations restricted the flexibility of the DITA content, and the company would need to develop complex workflows to successfully export the content to web.
Director, Dealer Support, Briggs & Stratton
“When we looked at the amount of effort that it would take to publish our existing DITA content to web, we decided to take a step back and rethink our goals,” says John Piechowski, Director, Dealer Support at Briggs & Stratton. “We realized that we needed to migrate to a new CCMS that would position us for the future.”
In addition to publishing content to the web, Briggs & Stratton saw other ways that it could improve the efficiency of its manual creation process, such as streamlining translation and increasing content reuse. It then began looking for a CCMS that could transform how writers work with content. Adobe Experience Manager Guides, the DITA-based CCMS from Adobe, stood out as an answer.
“With Adobe Experience Manager Guides, we can author, manage, and publish DITA content for multiple technical publications all within one solution,” says Piechowski.
Briggs & Stratton migrated all 90,000 pieces of content from its existing CCMS to Adobe Experience Manager Guides. The migration allowed Briggs & Stratton to regain some of the content flexibility lost through its highly customized DITA-OT platform. For example, the old system required that all content needed a cover page. If writers wanted to create content without a cover page, they would need to create unstructured content that sat outside of the CCMS. The new DITA structure is flexible enough to fit the needs of any type of content created at Briggs & Stratton.
Writers can publish this flexible DITA content into any format, without needing complex workarounds or workflows using multiple solutions. With just a few clicks, they can output content to PDF or publish to web. Web content is searchable, allowing customers to easily find content that they’re looking for. It’s also responsive, meaning that that no matter how customers are viewing web content—on a desktop, tablet, or mobile phone—the manual is clear and easy to read on any size screen.
“It was so easy to turn our DITA content into web content with Adobe Experience Manager Guides,” says Piechowski. “We used built-in templates with only minor modifications to add branding and compliance statements. It took much less time and effort to set up compared to our old system.”
Director, Dealer Support, Briggs & Stratton
One of the biggest challenges with the previous CCMS was that it lacked a simple way to tag, filter, and reuse content. Individual writers would sometimes reuse their own content by copying sections from DITA content that they had previously written, but there was no central way to share reusable DITA content among writers. The lack of reusability increased the amount of time writers spent rewriting content, but it also increased translation costs by forcing the company to translate similar phrases multiple times.
After migrating content to Adobe Experience Manager Guides, Briggs & Stratton implemented a new policy for reuse. The company identified several categories of content with high reuse potential, including governed warnings, global content such as company logos and customer support numbers, and content that remains the same across multiple products or models. Writers use DITAVAL and condition presets to make each piece of content filterable and easy to find for all writers.
“Between the time savings for writers and decreased need for translations, we’re reducing translation costs by up to 25% with Adobe Experience Manager Guides,” says Piechowski.
Reusing content also makes updates faster and easier. If the company changes a contact phone number, for example, it simply changes the phone number in one location, and it can propagate that change to all of its manuals.
“The reuse report in Adobe Experience Manager Guides gives us a much better way to measure, understand, and encourage reuse,” says Piechowski. “We saw content reuse increase by 15% in the first six months after migrating to the Adobe solution.”
Briggs & Stratton is looking to leverage the built-in review system to further streamline the manual creation process.
“With Adobe Experience Manager Guides, we have a single solution that allows us to handle every aspect of developing, reviewing, translating, and publishing manuals across platforms for our customers,” says Piechowski. “We’ve regained the power and flexibility that we need to meet any new content challenges we might face in the future.”