Volkswagen Manual Strategy at

By John W. Verity  |  Posted 2005-08-04 Print this article Print

Who cares about owner's manuals? The German automaker does. It sees that book in the glove compartment as a means of improving its relationships with customers.

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Volkswagen: Tuning Up Productivity
The German automaker wanted to reach out to customers by producing vehicle owner's manuals and service documents in many more languages than the original eight. And it didn't want to add any staff for the undertaking.

Adapting to Global Commerce
Volkswagen created 1.3 million manual pages in 8 languages.
HOW IT WORKED: Staffers handled text and graphics in separate workflows.
1. Each document or manual was developed independently of other documents or manuals.
2. As a result, each time VW wanted to create a manual for a car model, workers had to search through digital records to get the right diagrams and text, and then lay them out using authoring software.
3. Text for each language was translated by staffers.
Time to translate a manual into a new language: 18 weeks.
Volkswagen creates 2.8 million pages in 29 languages.
HOW IT WORKS: Deploys software to help translate documentation, and to manage the movement of documents. 1. Content is now marked with tags that indicate topic and intended uses.
2. Because of those tags, VW's editorial team can now easily search and update manuals and other documents. For example, a new car model may use the same engine as other models, so pages previously written about that engine can be reused as is.
3. Blocks of translated text are stored for rapid, fuzzy-logic-based retrieval, which enables translators to find and reuse existing text as much as possible.
Time to translate a manual into a new language: 2 weeks.
Sources: Volkswagen, Baseline research

Story Guide:
Volkswagen: Paper Manuals Equal Good Customer Service

  • How Do You Say 'Clutch' in Turkish?
  • Shifting Translation Into High Gear
  • Low-Tech Medium, High-Octane Oomph
  • Volkswagen Manual Strategy at a Glance
  • Base Case: Volkswagen At a Glance

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