Estimating the amount of time it takes to write documentation is tricky as it relies on many differing, subtle, factors and, for many people working outside of a highly regimented and heavily project managed team, it tends to boil down to a mixture of guesswork and experience. However, it’s not impossible to come up with a more reasoned estimate as long as you don’t mind doing a little planning.
Deciding to become a technical writer was easy. But finding the experience and the time has proven unforgiving. My job is not based on writing; in fact, writing is rarely needed. I do not have the schooling of a technical writer (yet!) nor the experience, and there were probably a 101 ways to write the documents better. But I’m willing to learn, and the documents I’ve created, while showing that I have plenty of room for improvement, are enough to help me get my foot in the door and transform my job towards the career I want.
In the 1990s, product life cycles are short, technology is ever-advancing, work environments are fast-paced, and there is an ongoing agenda to cut costs. This environment requires documentation teams to accomplish more faster with fewer personnel resources These requirements have redefined the roles and responsibilities of technical writers and documentation team leaders. Leadership skills have become critical to the overall success of documentation teams Critical leadership skills include appropriately implementing situational leadership, working effectively with people who have diverse working and social styles, and participating in ongoing role negotiations.
The ISO 9000 series of Quality Standards redefines how business will be conducted into the next century. The series is designed to measure the effectiveness of the Quality System in place, thereby ensuring both customer and company needs are always satisfied. The foundation of a robust Quality System is its documentation: problems in this area represent the largest single cause of registration failures. Quality System documentation also forms the basis upon which the 3rd party registrar builds the audit plan for your company.
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 and determining what's needed, when it's needed and what resources are available to help the new department carry out its mission.
The need for TCs with traditional writing skills will remain fairly stable, but the need for TCs in total will grow. The new technical communicators will come from the world of game design, where they know all about 3D-vector animation, and they will come from the world of TV and video production.
In this paper we explore the title statement by examining some of the places in an industrial, business or educational organization where a technical communicator might reside as well as some of the numerous roles the communicator might play and the kinds of products the communicator might produce. The paper is intended to help young communicators see more clearly that their job need not be limited to the routine, the mundane, and the terminally boring, and to encourage them to see that the field of technical communication is far broader that just the production of computer documentation.
Viewing your documentation or training group as a business entity is an important first step toward enabling organizational change and improvement. The actual business status of your organization - a company unto itself a profit center in a larger company, or a cost center in a larger company - matters not. It’s your view of things that will put you on the road to operating your group as a business.
To make alternative work arrangements operate at maximum efficiency, you might need to fine-tune your team’s schedule. As a result, this could be one of the most useful activities for retaining key people and keeping morale high. In my experience, nearly everyone who has an alternative work arrangement realizes the value it brings to their work and personal lives, and will go to almost any length to maintain it. For one thing, when it comes to driving fewer days to an office in this age of soaring gas prices, it’s like giving employees a raise.
Supervising the design of documentation is challenging for documentation managers who have little or no educated knowledge of design. However, quality design that maintains ease of reading, accessibility, comprehension, retention, and aesthetics is vital to the usability and success of the documentation and should be carefully monitored by the documentation manager. Decisions must be made up front on four design areas -- packaging, layout, typography, and highlighting -- before the project is underway. In addition, audience analysis and a design style guide are two techniques that managers should embrace in supervising design.
Current trends in Corporate America are changing the traditional role of technical communicators and creating new challenges and opportunities. Re-engineering the corporation, Total Quality Management, ISO 9000 compliance, and the continuing onslaught of the Information Age are all bringing formally 'invisible' technical communications functions into the limelight. It's not just writing and editing any more! As communication professionals and managers we need to upgrade skills and re-focus our efforts to become 'information managers.'
Changes in the economy and within organizations continue to require that demonstrated value be produced from the labor force. In order for policies and procedures (P&P) professionals to demonstrate how their work adds value to an organization, they need to develop and diversify their skill set to be more accessible and valuable in the services they provide.
This paper discusses some of the aspects that should be considered when evaluating the required resources and total cost of offshoring documentation development. As consultants to the documentation industry, The Integrity Group is committed to recommending the overall best solution for each business need. We have, therefore, drawn some conclusions from our research and made recommendations for those who are considering offshoring.
This article describes the ways in which determining a price to charge for documentation services is among the most important — and most challenging — tasks facing a contract writer or editor.
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.
For about Five years I worked for AT&T as a full time Instructional Designer and my worked involved the creation of training videos for the employees at AT&T. I loved it. It was creative, challenging and not stressful at all.
The development cycle of software is becoming shorter. Despite this, there are increasing demands to more efficiently develop software documentation and to decrease costs while maintaining quality. Writers must also provide the documentation on a variety of media to satisfy users’ demands and to add value to the documentation. When developing a product consisting of many software components, sometimes dozens of manuals must be developed simultaneously in a brief period. This presentation examines measures taken by the Hitachi Technical Information (TI) Department for developing the software Groupmax. This software requires that large quantities of documentation be developed simultaneously.
One of the more difficult tasks for all Technical Writers is the design and development of software documentation; however, technical writing for the software industry is no longer just writing documentation. To be successful, the Technical Writer must be able to adjust quickly to a fast-paced environment.
If you’re coaching a new documentation manager to succeed, start by establishing guiding principles. These principles become the solid foundation on which you can build trust. A trusting relationship enables a documentation manager to cultivate loyalty, extract maximum effort from others, and encourage teamwork.
This essay answers some of the more commonly asked questions about the field of technical writing. It explains what software and software documentation are, what the software documentation specialist (hereafter referred to as the technical writer) does, and how to go about preparing and looking for such employment. It also attempts to assuage the anxieties and calm the fears of those humanists who are upset by the mention of anything remotely associated with computers.
They call us 'documentation specialists' in the biz. Our mail is addressed to 'doc spec' because 'documentation specialist' doesn't fit on mailing labels. At social gatherings, people's faces go blank when we say we write software documentation or computer manuals. But what are we, really?
Most hiring managers, and I am no exception, take a couple of passes when reviewing résumés. The first pass eliminates people who are clearly not what I am looking for. I try to answer two questions: first, are this person’s qualifications even in the ballpark for the job, and second, can he or she write at least well enough to create a competent résumé? Answering the first of these questions is not hard, but it does require that you understand the job requirements thoroughly and read the résumé closely.
A central element of any job we hold is the compensation we receive. While compensation is only one factor in our descision to accept a position, it's how many of us keep score and the way all of us pay the bills. The WritersUA Salary Survey provides you with detailed and comprehensive information about compensation for user assistance professionals.