Developing a Collaborative Team: Lessons Learned from GE Healthcare


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Presented by Jeanette Eichholz at Documentation and Training Life Sciences, June 23-26, 2008 in Indianapolis.

Global collaborative writing team. Sounds good, doesn’t it? But why would anyone want to develop and maintain a collaborative team, especially over international time zones? Doesn’t everyone want their own autonomy anyway? to control their own destiny? their own budget? be happy within their own writing silow? Why develop a collaborative writing team?

For consistent standards, to share content and processes, reduce costs, to share a one for all and all for one attitude, and to gain the best of all possible worlds, of course. Because the reality of maintaining separate but equal writing silos is costly, redundant, and ‘managed’.

In reality, we’re all working for one company, sharing the same budget, using the same vendors, developing the same templates, following the same style guide… With the business imperatives we all have today to deliver more documentation faster, consistently, and cheaper, can we really afford to work in a silo? And wouldn’t we really have more to gain by sharing costs to develop content, agreeing on standards and templates, and determine how to meet tight schedules by sharing responsibilities by empowering all members of the team?

Managers/Teams will Learn about: How to build, develop, and maintain a global collaborative team and the benefits/challenges of working with a global collaborative team. Here are some of the differences and benefits she’ll discuss about working with a collaborative team vs working in your own separate writing ‘silo’.

* Team Leader vs Separate managers for each writing group
* Developing a Style Guides collaboratively vs Maintaining consistent styles across all the writing groups
* Getting everyone to do the same thing willingly vs Enforcing standardized templates and processes
* Srategizing translation cost trade-offs with everyone’s input vs Being told to reduce translation costs by 20%
* Meeting ‘creative’ schedules by splitting up the tasks vs Missing tight schedules
* Controlling quality and consistency collaboratively vs Getting the go-ahead to hire for a department editor
* Agreeing to write and reuse one set of content vs ‘Enforcing’ no changes in order to minimize translation costs
* Implementing a content management system with 4 months to write a 1000-page manual for two products with development in two different countries by working together vs doubling the resources, doubling the time, and doubling the cost
* Validating Chinese, Korean, Japanese translations with team members overnight vs Using costly external experts that takes one week to turnaround
* Gaining the best from 8 global teams vs Utilizing the best of one team
* Having an on-site writer working alongside the subject matter expert in another country vs Developing content for software written in another country
* Empowering everyone, sharing best practices, and gaining from the global interchange of information and technology vs Keeping expertise with the chosen few and enforcing their guidelines
* Developing a shared repository of content vs. Developing unique documentation sets and translations
* Collaborating on schedules, standards, and costs vs Managing schedules, standards, and costs

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Developing a Collaborative Team: Lessons Learned from GE Healthcare

  1. 1. Developing a Collaborative Writing Team My Experience at GE Healthcare Jeannette Eichholz GE Healthcare Clinical Systems Ultrasound
  2. 2. Imperatives Within Corporate Medical Writing Environment <ul><li>MUST </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Meet Global Regulatory Requirements </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Control Costs </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Ensure Quality </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Launch Products Simultaneously to Global Markets </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Within Shorter Project Cycle Times </li></ul></ul><ul><li>With Flawless Execution </li></ul>
  3. 3. Imperatives Within Global Regulated Environment <ul><li>FDA Regulations require that we all follow the same processes and SOPs </li></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Compliant </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Increased Quality and Consistency </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Verifiable </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Repeatable </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Cost-Effective </li></ul></ul></ul>
  4. 4. CMS Imperative <ul><li>Imperative to standardize processes globally to meet regulatory requirements and to improve processes to meet business requirements to reduce costs and cycle time to reach global markets simultaneously. </li></ul><ul><li>From </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Content Developed on their own PCs </li></ul></ul><ul><li>To </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Shared Content Management System </li></ul></ul>
  5. 5. GE Ultrasound successfully implemented a CMS for its user documentation. In 7 years we’ve gone from 2 products to 30 products and from 10 languages to 31 languages.
  6. 6. Benefits of Implementing a CMS <ul><li>Reduced overall translation costs by 50-60% </li></ul><ul><li>Translation costs even over past 7 years </li></ul>
  7. 7. Reduced Translation Cost -- JME 2 Systems 10 Languages 22 Products 31 Languages
  8. 8. Benefits of Implementing a CMS <ul><li>Global Simultaneous Product Launch in all Required Languages (31 and counting) </li></ul>
  9. 9. Simultaneous Global Rollout 1999 2001 forward <ul><li>Collaborative </li></ul><ul><li>Simultaneous </li></ul><ul><li>Reusable </li></ul><ul><li>Translate </li></ul><ul><li>incrementally </li></ul>Program Start Clinicals Product Launch Full Production <ul><li>1 Writer </li></ul><ul><li>works serially </li></ul><ul><li>on each product </li></ul><ul><li>Translate as </li></ul><ul><li>complete book </li></ul>Translation Complete AFTER Product Launch Translation Ready at Clinical Release Program Start Clinicals Product Launch Full Production
  10. 10. Benefits of Implementing a CMS <ul><li>Increased Market Coverage </li></ul>
  11. 11. Reached more markets JME
  12. 12. Benefits of Implementing a CMS <ul><li>Established Collaborative Writing Team </li></ul>
  13. 13. User Documentation Paradigm US Israel Norway China Korea Japan India 8 Product Centers Collaborative Global Effort VIVID Content LOGIQ Content Structured SGML Content Management System Individual Products Germany Xslt Conversion PDFs eDOCs Translate Online Help 1-Step Process Paper Docs only on Request 1-Step Process Increased Consistency 31 Languages No Desktop Publishing Cost Via F1 on Scanner eDOCs Decrease Cost Electronic Documentation Ship Complete Leveraged Translation Memory Austria
  14. 14. Why has GE’s CMS Implementation been Successful? A CMS implementation CANNOT succeed without a successful collaborative writing team. Indeed, our collaborative team is the cornerstone to our successful CMS implementation.
  15. 15. What Did We Overcome? Let’s take a look, Before, and After.
  16. 16. “Before” Scenario, without CMS <ul><li>Writing Silos – Mfg Centers in US, Japan, Korea, China, India, Norway, Germany, Austria, Israel </li></ul><ul><li>Used tools where sharing or single sourcing was impossible </li></ul><ul><li>Content / Templates started out the same, but diverged over time </li></ul><ul><li>New acquisition assimilation difficult </li></ul>
  17. 17. Redundant, Cumbersome, Expensive L700 L500 L400 L200 L100 Help Paper CD-ROM Spanish French German Italian Portuguese Swedish Danish Russian Turkish Greek Each Documentation Set was Translated into 10 Languages
  18. 18. Writing Silos  Collaborative Team <ul><li>Stand-Alone Writers </li></ul><ul><li>Author-Controlled Content </li></ul><ul><li>Tweaked Templates </li></ul><ul><li>Independent Budgets </li></ul><ul><li>“ Their” Content </li></ul><ul><li>Content on Writer’s PC </li></ul><ul><li>Collaborative Writing Team </li></ul><ul><li>Team-Controlled Content ; </li></ul><ul><li>Controlled “Brand” Identity </li></ul><ul><li>Shared Budget </li></ul><ul><li>Corporate Intellectual Capital </li></ul><ul><li>Content in Controlled Content Management System </li></ul>
  19. 19. What improved and how did it get better when we moved to this environment? <ul><li>We learned that there are a lot of benefits to having a collaborative writing team. </li></ul>
  20. 20. Benefit: Shared Content Reuse Strategy <ul><li>Eliminated Redundant Content Development in Each Manufacturing Center </li></ul><ul><li>Develop Reuse Strategy – Plan Yearly </li></ul><ul><li>No Duplication of Effort / No Redundancy </li></ul><ul><li>New features written by writer where new feature was developed – Migrated to product line as feature added to product’s feature set </li></ul>
  21. 21. Benefit: Shared Costs <ul><li>Share Template Development Costs (FrameMaker, Online Help, Translated Templates) </li></ul><ul><li>Share CMS and CMS Customization Cost </li></ul><ul><li>Share Automated Tool Cost </li></ul><ul><li>Share Translation Cost </li></ul><ul><li>Centralized Control & Management </li></ul>
  22. 22. Benefit: Wrote Collaboratively <ul><li>Write Content Once – Reuse Many Times </li></ul><ul><li>Write Generically to Fit Multiple Products </li></ul><ul><li>Consistent Content – Changes Decided Upon as a Team </li></ul><ul><li>Content Easily Migrated Across Product Lines </li></ul><ul><li>Content Reviewed Continually </li></ul>
  23. 23. Benefit: Developed Automated Publishing Tools <ul><li>Manually created FM Books, TOCs, Indexes, PDFs, Online Helps vs Using automated tools </li></ul><ul><li>Now automatically generate FM Books, TOCs, Indexes, PDFs from sgml file </li></ul><ul><li>Use Batch File to generate 30 translated files </li></ul><ul><li>Online Help auto generated from sgml  xml  xslt transformation  html help </li></ul>
  24. 24. Benefit: Standardized within GE Brand <ul><li>Controlled Templates </li></ul><ul><li>Controlled Content </li></ul><ul><li>No more copying and pasting </li></ul><ul><li>Change content in one place; updated in every reuse </li></ul><ul><li>Assures content integrity </li></ul><ul><li>Achieves Brand </li></ul>
  25. 25. Benefit: Increased Consistency, Accuracy, & Quality Content <ul><li>Consistent Content </li></ul><ul><li>Accurate Content </li></ul><ul><li>Tested Content </li></ul><ul><li>Subject Matter Expert Verified Content </li></ul><ul><li>End User Validated Content </li></ul>
  26. 26. Benefit: Re-Purposed Content <ul><li>Can re-purpose content to be used by Marketing, by Training, Help Desks </li></ul><ul><li>Single source content for pdf and chm files Automatic (Not a Separate Effort) </li></ul><ul><li>Can re-purpose same content into different manuals </li></ul><ul><li>Multi-functional purposes: training, marketing, across product lines </li></ul>
  27. 27. Writers’ Jobs Didn’t Go Away, They Evolved <ul><li>Content Analysis, Metadata Strategy </li></ul><ul><li>Reuse Analysis and Strategy </li></ul><ul><li>Tool / Techology Selection, Upgrade, Migration </li></ul><ul><li>Concise Source Content – Editing Skills, Testing, Verification with SMEs, Validation with End Users </li></ul><ul><li>Template, CSS Management, Automated Processes </li></ul><ul><li>More Techno Savvy (sgml, xml, sgml, DITA, language encoding, unicode…) </li></ul><ul><li>Better, Smarter Writing, NOT More Writing </li></ul>
  28. 29. Benefit: Leveraged Translation Memories – THIS IS HUGE!!! <ul><li>No longer unique product documentation sets, generating multiple sets of translation memories -- Now only one set of Core Content </li></ul><ul><li>One Core Content </li></ul><ul><li>One Core Content Translation Memory </li></ul><ul><li>One TM Leveraged across Multiple Products </li></ul><ul><li>Consistent, Correct, and Clean TMs </li></ul>
  29. 30. Without With Collaboration Collaboration <ul><li>$.25 Per Translated Word </li></ul><ul><li>Each Page = ~250 Words </li></ul><ul><li>Or $62.50 Per Translated Page </li></ul><ul><li>X 1000 Pages = $62,500 </li></ul><ul><li>X 30 Languages = $1,875,000 </li></ul><ul><li>X 15 Products </li></ul><ul><li>or $28,125,000 </li></ul><ul><li>Additional Writers Required </li></ul>$.25 Per Translated Word Each Page = ~250 Words Or $62.50 Per Translated Page X 1000 Pages = $62,500, X 30 Languages = $1,875,000, /5 Manufacturing Centers, or $375,000 No Additional Writers Required EXCEPT that it’s even less. We only write and pay to translate the delta. So, the actual cost yearly is now $400,000 per year, or $80,000 per mfg ctr.
  30. 31. And that’s not even counting the time savings… <ul><li>Faster Turnaround Time (1000 page manual ‘written’ in ~ 2 weeks, ‘translated’ in ~ 1 week, ‘dtp’d’ in 1 week, validated and released in 1 week. </li></ul><ul><li>Start to end, ~5 weeks, in as many languages as you want. </li></ul>
  31. 32. Translation Notes <ul><li>Only pay to translate the delta in the database (fuzzy + no matches) </li></ul><ul><li>Over the past 7 years, the budget has remained constant, between $250,000-$350,000 even though we’ve gone from 10 to 30 languages and from 5 to 16 products </li></ul><ul><li>And this $250,000 - $350,000 cost is divided by the number of manufacturing centers </li></ul><ul><li>So each manufacturing center pays roughly $70,000 </li></ul>
  32. 33. So, Finally, Let’s talk about what it takes to get a Collaborative Team Off the Ground <ul><li>Definition </li></ul><ul><li>Getting Buy-In </li></ul><ul><li>Planning Your Team </li></ul><ul><li>Operating Mechanism </li></ul><ul><li>Developing and Nurturing Your Team </li></ul><ul><li>Team Meetings </li></ul><ul><li>Tracking Progress </li></ul><ul><li>Standardizing Tools/ Processes </li></ul><ul><li>Sharing Budgets </li></ul><ul><li>Accountability </li></ul><ul><li>Escalating Issues </li></ul><ul><li>Hiring for a Collaborative Team </li></ul>Group Hugs
  33. 34. Definition <ul><li>A Collaborative Team is a group of individuals who share common beliefs and work towards common goals. They meet regularly over an extended period of time. Team members share decision making, flexibility, and creative problem solving strategies. </li></ul>
  34. 35. Getting Buy-In <ul><li>From Managers </li></ul><ul><li>From Writers </li></ul><ul><li>From Finance </li></ul><ul><li>From Marketing </li></ul><ul><li>From Program Team Leaders </li></ul><ul><li>From HR </li></ul>
  35. 36. Planning the Team <ul><li>Need to convince team members of the value of working on a team. </li></ul><ul><li>Share templates and develop together </li></ul><ul><li>Develop standards </li></ul><ul><li>Validate translations </li></ul><ul><li>Automate processes </li></ul>
  36. 37. Operating Mechanism <ul><li>Communicate almost daily </li></ul><ul><li>Meet every 2 weeks </li></ul><ul><li>Plan, collaborate, strategize, analyze, write </li></ul><ul><li>Always Improving processes </li></ul><ul><li>Ensuring integrity of one set of content </li></ul>
  37. 38. Developing & Nurturing Your team <ul><li>Changed the way we wrote </li></ul><ul><li>Train on an on-going basis </li></ul><ul><li>Empower each team member </li></ul><ul><li>Know each person’s strengths & rely on them </li></ul>
  38. 39. Team Meetings <ul><li>Regular, Scheduled </li></ul><ul><li>Work from an Agenda </li></ul><ul><li>Prepare a Standard Status Report </li></ul><ul><li>Communicate Issues </li></ul><ul><li>Track Progress </li></ul><ul><li>Give / Take </li></ul>
  39. 40. Tracking Progress <ul><li>Celebrate Wins </li></ul><ul><li>Track Progress / Changed Milestones </li></ul><ul><li>Communicate Issues in Plenty of Time </li></ul>
  40. 41. Standardizing Tools/Processes <ul><li>Keep infrastructure up to date </li></ul><ul><li>Ask team members to research new tools </li></ul><ul><li>Plan future together </li></ul><ul><li>Communicate issues as they occur </li></ul><ul><li>Agree on templates </li></ul>
  41. 42. Sharing Budgets <ul><li>Prepare yearly budget </li></ul><ul><li>Determine program requirements, deliverables, translations resources </li></ul><ul><li>Track costs </li></ul><ul><li>Report out </li></ul>
  42. 43. Accountability <ul><li>Team members must do their own work </li></ul><ul><li>Must prepare content on time </li></ul><ul><li>Must follow due diligence (review, validate, follow style guide, abide by template rules) </li></ul><ul><li>Be a good team member </li></ul>
  43. 44. Escalating Issues <ul><li>Some teams only show up when they need something or when their project is active </li></ul><ul><li>Have an escalation process (go to their direct manager, or to the program leader, or to your manager) </li></ul>
  44. 45. Hiring for a Collaborative Team <ul><li>Need to hire team players </li></ul><ul><li>Not just looking for technical skills or industry knowledge </li></ul><ul><li>Interpersonal skills near the top of the list </li></ul><ul><li>Screen out lone wolves, the not-so-nice </li></ul><ul><li>Involve the team in the hiring process </li></ul>
  45. 46. Group Hugs <ul><li>Thank everyone for their hard work </li></ul><ul><li>All for one, one for all </li></ul><ul><li>Celebrate each other’s successess </li></ul><ul><li>Recognize hard work </li></ul><ul><li>Recognize good work </li></ul>
  46. 47. Conclusion <ul><li>The Whole is Greater than the Sum of Its Parts </li></ul><ul><li>Each writer learns from everyone’s strengths </li></ul><ul><li>Together as a team, we accomplish more, cheaper, faster, with increased quality and consistency </li></ul><ul><li>Can generate a 1000-page manual as quickly as 2 days, but normally within 2 weeks </li></ul><ul><li>Can translate a 1000-page manual into pdfs and online help within 3 weeks </li></ul>
  47. 48. Collaborative Team Success Transfers directly to your company’s bottom line. <ul><li>Enabling global content on time – no longer a cost center, but a corporate asset </li></ul><ul><li>Information becomes capital </li></ul><ul><li>when it is employed to produce profit. </li></ul><ul><li>Developing the Content Management System to manage our corporate knowledge assets allows us to easily find, use, and re-use content in a way that maximizes its value to our organization and minimizes the cost to create, maintain, and assemble it for a particular business need. </li></ul>