Posts with the Tag: documentation department
What happens behind the scenes at many companies will stay a mystery to most. Only those involved in the day to day hiring or training will know for certain who needs to be employed at a company and who doesn’t.
When it comes to technical needs, it’s not just technical writers who need to be on hand. With the larger need for more technical documentation and action, the technical team requires a number of professionals to produce results.
At one time, technical writers used to be something of an enigma – and still are. These writers were called in for special projects and were often contract technical writers rather than full time staff. As a result, they seemed to work in a fly by night fashion, helping only when needed and not sticking around for the long haul.
But is this the best scenario?
In times when communication matters more than ever, technical writers should be a part of writing decisions, from start to finish. And having a team of writers is considered to be the best arrangement. Not only will you have the collective wisdom of these professionals, but you will also find you are able to get things done much more quickly.
Even if a technical writer is an hourly employee, the more you have, the fewer hours they will need to work. Together in the team, they can look at past projects to decide the tone and format, create the structure, write the project, and then review it for errors. A trained technical writer can get all of these things done quickly when they have the support of a full time (or at least regular) technical writing team.
Businesses benefit with a more efficient technical writing team. They can not only see their ideas become reality more quickly, but they will find the documentation is not only helpful, but more consistent than when a business brings in a new writer for each project. In addition, a strong writing team will be able to see what other documents are necessary in order to build a concrete library of texts, instructional manuals, etc.
Is this always possible? Is it always possible to have a team of technical writers? Probably not. But when a company relies on technical writing to train and to inform, it’s not a bad idea to stop looking at layoffs and start looking into hiring.
Common Myths and Misconceptions About Layoffs
How to Justify Hiring Technical Writers During Hard Economic Times
Being asked to take the reins of a brand new documentation department is a challenge that many professional technical writers relish, even though the training and development activities they participated in may never have prepared them for such a rewarding challenge. This article looks at forming a new documentation department, team or group and determining what’s needed, when it’s needed and what resources are available to help the new group carry out its mission.
Five Questions to Ask Yourself While Creating a New Documentation Department
by Eric Butow
Congratulations! You’re the manager of your company’s emerging documentation department — and your work has just begun. To create effective documentation for your customers, you not only have to build a sound team, but also build working relationships with all other departments in your company.
In my contracting travels, I’ve set up two new documentation departments in two very different settings. My first was a documentation department for a startup networking software company in 1999. The company’s only previous documentation was a slim manual written by a programmer.
In 2004, I helped set up a new documentation department at the financial aid division for a major bank. Over the years, this division had been passed along to different parent banks — the newest of which was shocked to find that no one had written documentation about financial-aid processes, and no documentation about the software they had used during the division’s last 20 years! As a result, the new parent organization decided that relying on the institutional memories of its employees was a major risk, so the documentation department was born.
When you create your own documentation department, you should ask yourself five simple questions that will help your new department show its value to the company as quickly as possible. These questions are similar to those that a good reporter must answer when documenting a story — who, what, where, why, and how? — and they are as important for a documentation department manager as they are for an ace journalist.
The questions are:
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by Robert King
When you first ventured into the tech writing ranks, marketing the department was likely the furthest thing from your mind. You already had work to do, so marketing was somebody else’s job.
But now that you’re in a position where you are reading newsletters like TechCom Manager , you probably have some concern about marketing. You might even need to be a tech comm marketer to ensure your documentation department survives. To have internal and external customers solicit your services is not always a given, even within the same corporation. At the company where I am Tech Comm Manager, we have a decidedly free-market economy, where the business units can either use our services to provide manuals to their end customers or not. Consequently, marketing our department is actually in my position description. How we market our services to our internal and external customers is the focus of this article.
by Whitney Potsus
Whether the documentation department has a staff of one or a team of 12, visibility within the company is a frequent concern. The reasons for this concern range from personal to professional. You want to be remembered when promotions and bonuses are handed out. You want new challenges to add diversity to your workload, and new projects to add skills to your resume. You want to defend your turf against budget cuts and layoffs during lean economic times. And you want to be more than an afterthought that lives in the back 40 of the cubicle farm.
You’ve probably come to this article looking for specific ideas of what you can do in your organization to raise the technical communications group’s profile. And there will be some of those. But trying to provide specific recommendations for raising your group’s profile in your company is a little like giving someone else marriage advice. Unless you’re sitting in the thick of things every day, participating in the maintenance of the relationship, it’s difficult to offer ideas that are compatible with and cognizant of all the variables in personalities, skills, strengths, and weaknesses, communication styles, schedules, aspirations, and so on.
In here, you will find suggestions to mull over as you try to determine the best ways to expand your influence throughout the company. Because when you talk to other technical communicators and documentation managers, what you often hear is “ Be careful what you wish for…you just might get it .”
Following, we’ll address:
- Taking Time to Focus
- What Solutions Do Customers Need?
- What Twirls Your Beanie?
- Mapping Your Goals
- Cited Readings & Resources