Tag enterprise content management

Tag enterprise content management

Want to Improve Dealer Loyalty? Provide Accurate Parts Information

October 18, 2017 Tags: , , , , , , ,
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Q&A With Brian Becker, Digital Service Parts Analyst

In addition to manufacturing best-in-class outdoor power equipment, Excel Industries strives to give customers a quality owner experience. Their dealer network of more than 1,600 U.S. dealers and over 30 distributors worldwide works tirelessly to answer questions and provide expert service to every customer.

Brian Becker, Excel Industries

We talked with Brian Becker, Digital Service Parts Analyst at Excel Industries, to see how they use Documoto to provide accurate parts lookup and ordering for dealers.

Digabit: What were the main publishing problems your company was looking to address?

Brian Becker: Our biggest problem was our inability to make changes to our parts books and manuals. We were dependent on our previous provider to make changes for us and that would be a 5-6 month process from turning over material to going live. Our dealer network was working off old information, and that was a big problem when it came to parts ordering. If a dealer can’t be sure that they’re going to get the right part and accessory, it hurts our reputation with them. If a repair takes longer than an equipment owner was promised because the wrong part was ordered, that hurts the dealer’s reputation. So, parts information accuracy is huge for us to protect our reputation and build a world-class brand. 

Digabit: Why did you choose Documoto?

Brian Becker: We looked at it from, “What would make things easier for our dealers?” We didn’t have control over updating our parts manuals and it was hurting our dealers to not have current information. We looked at a couple of other vendors, but Digabit was the only one we moved forward with to do a demo. Documoto allows us to update our own data when we want, and those changes are available immediately to dealers. The cost was reasonable, and we knew that Digabit would provide an account team to help with training our team and transitioning our information.

Digabit: How is your company using Documoto?

Brian Becker: Mainly we use it as our parts lookup system for our dealers and internal users, which includes our service techs, parts customer service reps and territory managers. Our dealers can go in, look up a part, and find all the information they need in in a fraction of the time. Most importantly, what they see is right. We have service information, bulletins, and service procedures stored in the cloud library. And, our service techs are spread out across the country and are rarely in the same room, so we use Documoto for knowledge-sharing that helps service techs communicate issues that they are seeing out in the filed.

Digabit: What is one way your dealers use Documoto that was surprising to you?

Brian Becker: Our website lists information on our current products but once that product is no longer in production, it’s off the website and inaccessible. Many times, a customer will come in with a 5-year-old mower and want to buy something like a mulch kit, or lights, or other accessories. The only way to find out what those parts are and whether they’re still available was to look at our whole-good price list archives. Our dealers used to have to find creative ways to have that information handy. Now, they can do that with a few clicks of a mouse instead of having to take a lot of time to track it down.

Digabit: Can you give us an example of how Documoto improved dealer performance?

Brian Becker: I can’t say enough about how huge it is to have better accuracy of the parts manuals and the documents. And our dealers really appreciated the amplified search capabilities. When you run a search, you can see everything that is related to that part number. They don’t have to go hunting for stuff and they don’t have to wonder if they’re looking for the right thing. As long as they type in the right number, and we’ve done our jobs correctly with the information on the backend, they can get exactly what they need.

Digabit: What did you do to convince dealers that the new system  was better?

Brian Becker: When we first switched, people weren’t thrilled because it was a new system. Our response was, “The information you saw before wasn’t accurate. How often did you order a part that was wrong? Then you had to ship it back, your customer was angry with you and you’d be mad at us. That won’t be a problem anymore.” Having the accuracy and ability to change the stuff, that has won over so many of our dealers. They were used to things not being accurate and not knowing if they had ordered correctly. Now they know they’re ordering the right part.

Digabit: Having accurate parts information is clearly important to your reputation and your dealer’s reputations. Has Documoto helped changed perceptions for you?

Brian Becker: Before, customers returning parts was happening regularly. One incident I really remember is from a few years ago. There was a transmission that was very popular that was labeled wrong in our parts manuals. This was an expensive part, and it was also heavy, so it cost a lot to ship. We shipped several of them out before we realized it was the wrong one. But, because it was so popular and we didn’t have a way to change how it was labeled ourselves, people kept ordering the wrong one. We paid a lot of money to our former authoring software just to get them rush-fix the error because we needed it changed ASAP. Even then, it took another 30 days to get it updated. Every time we shipped it our wrong, we were paying for it to be returned and to have the correct one shipped, and it was costing us a lot of money. Since we started using Documoto, I just don’t hear stories like that anymore.

Digabit: How has accurate parts information improved your relationship with your dealers?

Brian Becker: We made a point that if the dealers found an error early on, that they should let us know as soon as possible. We would fix it right away, and then we would call them back the same day to let them know they should look at it again. They could see for themselves that we had fixed it as fast as we could. It helped them learn to trust the information in the system because they knew we were keeping it updated in real-time.

Hopefully, that makes them compare us to other brands and want to sell ours more because they know we’re listening to them, we’re making changes, we’re committed to having the right information, and we make it easier to look up parts.

Digabit: What advice would you give to manufacturers who are making large technology upgrades?

Brian Becker: This was a big transition for us and we had thousands of documents. For a project like this to be successful, it needs to be a collaborative effort. The Digabit team knows how to use Documoto, but it’s our team that knows our products in and out, and we needed to be working closely together to get that information right. I can’t say enough about how great our Digabit account manager was during the transition. It meant a lot to me to be able to pick up the phone and talk to someone or send an email and get a response very quickly.

Digabit: What advice would you give about rolling out a new system to a network of dealers?

Brian Becker: We gave our dealers fair warning that we were getting rid of our old system. We didn’t suddenly flip a switch and have the new system. We also had training materials ready, including short videos on how to search, where to find comments and who to call if there was an error.

Before we rolled it out, I wanted everyone internally to be familiar with the product. If you call in and have a question, the person you reach can answer it, because they’ve been using Documoto themselves.

I wanted to make sure when we introduced it that we could answer questions, because I knew we would have pushback because people were used to something. We couldn’t give the dealers any excuse on not being able to use it because there was support for them in multiple places. I have to count it as a success, with 75% of our dealers using it within a few short months of the rollout. Since then, we’ve had nothing but good feedback, and now 9 out of 10 of our dealers use the system.

4 Manufacturers Getting The Most ROI Out Of Electronic Parts Catalogs

August 10, 2017 Tags: , , , , , ,
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Every manufacturing company should have a digitization strategy, click but some sectors are more suited than others for electronic parts catalogs.

We keep hammering home this point, but it’s true—the future of manufacturing is digital. Gone are the days where your technical publishing wants to update a single part in dozens of parts books. We’ve passed a time where customers want to make a call or send a fax to place an order.

But, is it worth it to put in the time and resources to make the switch to electronic parts catalog (EPCs)s? Based on the results of our customers, we’d say yes. The ROI has been enormous—from the decrease in time to publish changes, to the increase in revenue from online parts sales.

Let’s take a look at four types of companies that can gain the most ROI benefit from electronic parts catalogs and parts information in a relational database in the cloud.

1. LA Metro (Transit Agencies)

It may come as a surprise, but transit agencies that have a lot of parts they need to move for repairs and maintenance are the perfect candidates for electronic parts catalogs.

LA Metro BusWhen you have thousands of buses and hundreds of rail cars that are used to transport millions of people annually, keeping those vehicles in service is not only a priority for moving customers, but also a part of keeping in line with federal regulations for state of good repair. In addition, they are also looking for solutions that will increase productivity and keep costs low.

Time spent in the shop for maintenance might mean missed routes and angry customers. For repairs, maintenance teams need to be able to find parts and order them from their supplier or internal warehouse. When the parts look up ordering system is slow and the information is outdated, mechanics lose valuable time that could be spent on repair tasks.

Electronic parts catalogs solve many of these issues. Administrators can update part information with an integrated set of tools, and make updates instantaneously. Mechanics can log in to a computer, use the search capabilities to find parts and request them through the system. With a guarantee that the information is correct, mechanics no longer worry about retrieving the wrong part and spend less time searching.

A perfect example of transit using EPCs successfully is LA Metro. Since implementing Documoto, they now have 99.9%  order accuracy and an increase in mechanic productivity. Metro is one of a half dozen major U.S. transit systems who have successfully adopted Documoto to modernize service operations.

Read the full case study here. 

2. Atlas Copco (Construction Equipment)

atlas copco machineryWhen you’re a construction equipment company with a large customer base spread around the globe, having accurate parts books is necessary to keep your users happy. For these equipment users, having a machine that is down while waiting for a part means they’re losing money every day. If they’re in a remote location that takes additional time to ship to, getting the order right the first time is crucial. Because these customers are in different time zones, another hurdle is making it easy for them to order parts in the first place.

Using a relational database to create EPCs allows technical publishers to make changes and have that information update to the electronic parts catalogs in real-time. When users look up parts, they know that the information is accurate. By integrating the digital catalogs with an ERP system, a storefront can be created for customers to purchase their parts.

Thanks to this simplified parts lookup and order process, dealers and equipment owners can buy parts online, 24/7, with no backlog to fulfill orders. Not only does this cut down on fulfillment time, but it also creates satisfied customers.

Companies like Atlas Copco are using EPCs and a digital storefront to sell parts online and are seeing a direct impact on their bottom line. In just over a year, they’ve had a 64% increase in online sales, and a 4% increase in overall parts revenue. For a company that see billions of dollars a year in profits, that is a huge monetary increase, from something as simple as offering online ordering and accurate parts data.

Read the full case study here.

3. Hiperbaric (Food Processing Equipment)

If your company’s reputation relies on providing after-sales support to make hiperbaricsure your equipment is running smoothly and safely, having assistance readily available to customers and dealers is paramount. Many companies spend a lot of resources staffing support desks so they can respond to questions, create service requests and order parts for customers. The problem is that many companies only provide this support to customers during regular business hours, and those employee’s time isn’t always used efficiently. Time is wasted looking up information or answering questions that could be used filling more requests.

Having a software solution that not only can create interactive parts catalogs, but also store support documentation and connect to an existing ERP system can be the difference between providing mediocre service and outstanding service for customers.

Through an online portal, customers and field service technicians can log in, view service information and look up parts for only the equipment that the company has designated. Instead of having to call to ask questions, the most current information is readily available at any time. This cuts down on the time the support desk spends on the phone and answering emails as well as the time technicians need to spend looking up information when they are out doing repairs.

With EPCs and online libraries for parts documents, Hiperbaric saw a 25% increase in help desk efficiency and a 25% time savings for technicians. And in just 11 working days, they were able to recover the cost of the digital parts catalog creator subscription.

Read the case study here.

4. Viking Range (Consumer Appliances)

Technical publishing and engineering teams are already stretched thin, especially for manufacturers with dozens of product lines and hundreds of pieces of equipment. Old processes for creating and updating parts catalogs require publishers to make updates to each individual parts book, creating the book in the first place would take nearly a week to complete, and the time delay between updating the books and getting the information online could be extensive.

EPC software makes those problems a distant memory. Using templates, creating the parts books takes a fraction of the time. Thanks to the relational database architecture of EPCs, when one piece of information is updated in the database, it updates every parts catalog where the data is found, saving hours of time for publishers.

Viking Range has the data to prove the benefits. Since using EPC software, they’ve had a 73% reduction in parts book creation time and a 99% reduction in system update time.

Read the full case study here. 

5 Steps For Easy Content Migration

July 26, 2017 Tags: , , , , , , , ,
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For manufacturing companies, centralizing parts data from disconnected sources into a single Electronic Parts Catalog (EPC) system continues to gain popularity. Moving to an EPC system enables efficient content reuse, greater control and the easy creation of both online catalogs and exportable/printable parts books.

There are some clear benefits for companies who make the switch to EPCs. However, implementing a new solution is a major investment in both time and resources for a company.  And migrating technical documentation and parts information has a reputation for being painful and frustrating.

Content migration doesn’t have to be like that. After helping our customers transfer hundreds of thousands of pages of parts information, we’ve distinguished some best practices along the way.

Here are five steps you can take to make your content and data migration process successful.

1. Set The Stage

Make sure you have the right team in place.

A project can’t get off the ground, unless you have identified the people who are going to be doing the work. Most importantly, have a project owner who is managing the process from a business perspective and can give clear guidance to the other members of the team.

Get access to all of the data/content you want to migrate.

Take the time to understand the “where” and the “how” of the data you need to have migrated. Do you need special permissions to access certain data? Do the people with access to the data work on different time zones? Will it take weeks for approval to migrate content? Think about this before you start so that you can create a reasonable timeline of expectations and avoid delays down the line.

Get your target system ready to receive data.

We recommend choosing a Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) platform, because it makes the SaaS provider responsible for being ready and accessible for you on time. Work with your content migration team to make sure they understand what is expected. Set up trainings and provide learning materials so that the team knows how to use the system.

2. Start With An End Goal In Mind

Major content migration projects aren’t something you can jump right into and hope for success. They need to be planned out so that the project doesn’t go off track or end up being unmanageable.

What do you want to accomplish?

Hold planning sessions with your team to define the goal you want to achieve and to decide on the scope of the data/content to migrate.

Determine how the new system will be used.

A content migration project for items that will only be used as reference will look very difference from a content migration project for data that will be used for placing orders. Decide what the goal will be for the content/data once it’s in place. When determining goals, use your available resources. In particular, talk with your current channel users. Ask them what they want, how they’d use it, and then consider if their preferences line up with your business goals.

Consider what is unique about the content.

What defines each piece of data/content you want to migrate? These answers will impact on how you migrate the information. The goal should be to have a clean and manageable data set at the end.

3. Get Organized

Once you’ve got the right team in place and you’ve figured out what you want to accomplish, it’s time to get organized and make sure you’re migrating the right data and content.

Pick the essentials that you want to display to end users of the new target system and pinpoint a “golden version” of all Bill of Materials, drawings and catalogs. Avoid having redundant versions and migrating unnecessary content/data.

For example, is migrating a rarely-used, 30-year old operations manual necessary? Or can you just migrate the newest version? Consider these things when organizing your content.

4. Take Things One Step At A Time

Migrating content doesn’t have to be done all at once. Think it through as you plan the order and choose a timeline that makes the most sense.

  • Migrate the bestsellers first.
  • Migrate a product line for a specific range of model years.
  • Migrate current PDFs and other static content first, then move on to more robust data/content.
  • Migrate most-used data for a beta group of users. Watch and see how they use it before migrating the rest.

5. Focus on Quality Over Quantity

Some people think that success for migration means moving all of the parts catalogs and other content in your current database over to the new one. However, if some of the content/data is of bad quality, it will not prove very useful in your EPC.

Take ownership and care, and validate content early and often throughout the migration. One of the biggest pain points and failures we see is when a project team makes a plan, gets going, and then waits until the end to validate if the data is correct and high quality. At that point, the ship has sailed and it’s another massive project to get it fixed. We advocate for validating information little by little as you go.

By following these steps, you can create a thoughtful, structured rollout that will lead to a successful completed project.

 

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What Comes After ECM?

July 19, 2017 Tags: , , , , , ,
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In January of 2017, research firm Gartner announced that the term “enterprise content management” (ECM) is headed for an early retirement. The new market category to describe how large businesses capture, store and distribute information will now be called, at least by Gartner, “content services.”

Sorry, that doesn’t mean Sharepoint is being decommissioned as of 2017! However, it does signal a shift in high-level business thinking that reflects the realities and experiences of information workers over the past 20 years.

What Gartner is saying in its report isn’t that enterprise content is going away, or that we’re not going to manage it any longer. But that enterprise-class, complicated platforms intended to capture all a large company’s various types of content are evolving and being replaced with a new class of solutions.

Part of the problem is the complexity required of systems that are intended to manage all types of content for all types of workers. This complexity, along with a lack of user training, leads to reduced adoption and ineffectiveness.

Complex enterprise content management system

One of the goals of the traditional ECM is to eliminate the negative consequences of information silos. Silos occur when two or more business units within one company both create, use and/or maintain different versions of the same information.

However, providing access to a platform where all users could view the same documents did not magically solve the silo problem. That’s because the real problems of managing content originate from cultural and business process challenges.

So, if ECM is dead, what exactly is different about “content services”?

According to a report from the Association for Information and Image Management (AIIM), The Next Wave: Moving from ECM to Intelligent Information Management, in the future we’ll be managing information with distributed applications whose functionality is more closely aligned to a particular business use case.

With modern cloud and SaaS applications, integrations can make it much easier to share data using APIs, web services and application endpoints. So, even if every department uses its own hand-picked application to manage critical data, that data can be shared and re-used within software systems used by other departments. Application silos are okay, but no information silos allowed when optimizing business processes!

So, instead of trying to accommodate every user need or force organizations to commit significant resources on customization, business users are moving toward applications that excel in one major functional area. This modular approach fits with the agile mentality in place at many modern technology firms, as it enables faster implementation, easier adoption and less customization on the path to providing value.