A directory of resources inthe field of technical communication.


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Achieving Balance: Work, Play, and Down Time

No two people are alike, and different balancing tactics work for different people. Try some of these approaches to strike a healthy balance between work, social, and personal time.

Dragonette, Laura. Carolina Communique (2014). Articles>Careers>Time Management


Artists, Not Assholes

My key point in this column is that we need to support, defend, and promote our artisans, or artists, and we need to eliminate the assholes from our organizations. In practice, I see a lot of managers who do not support their artisans—their greatest performers—but hold onto and even reward their assholes. In the end, an organization that rewards the wrong people can destroy its effectiveness and drive the most talented people out.

Nieters, Jim. UXmatters (2008). Careers>Management>Advice


Avoiding Client/Contractor Nightmares: Best Practices for Contractor Management   (PDF)

You've secured the budget to produce some badly needed, high visibility deliverables. Part of that budget includes funding for contractors. To help manage and guide the communications between your contractors, your staff, and your management, you want to use your company's best practices. The best practices of the contractor or provider firm you employ should closely match your own company's best practices. Beginning on the "same page" will eliminate headaches and expenses during the lifecycle of the project. A quick comparison of practices and procedures enables you to proceed with the project confident that you are using competent outside resources.

Michaels, Sherry, Maggie Haenel, Ann Backhaus. STC Proceedings (2004). Careers>Project Management>Consulting


Avoiding the Drone Syndrome: How to Keep Your Technical Writing Job Interesting in an Age of Automated Publishing   (PDF)

Information development organizations are under increasing pressure to implement single-sourcing or other automated and highly structured document development processes. Forces driving this trend include translation requirements, niche marketing, the convergence of software and documentation, and shrinking cycle times and budgets. Initially, these changes threaten to remove everything that is challenging and interesting about the technical writer’s work. However, technical writers who successfully adapt to this new environment will find more opportunity than ever to use their analysis and writing skills and to develop additional negotiation and process management capabilities.

Guthrie, Melissa L. STC Proceedings (2000). Careers>Content Management>Single Sourcing>Technical Writing


The Basics of the Entity Alphabet©

Has anyone told you something that sounded like 'I folded my S-Corp into a C-Corp, then transferred the shares to an LLC that was the GP of an LLP'? It used to be easy. You were either a corporation, partnership, or if only one owner, sole proprietorship. Nowadays, the proliferation of choice of entities for even small, single-owner businesses can be daunting. While it can all be very confusing, all of this alphabet jargon boils down to two basic issues: taxation and liability. In the old days, you could only have limited liability if you were taxed as a corporation and could only be taxed as a partnership if you had full liability. Now the two issues have been separated, giving modern business owners the full range of possibilities. Let's take a look at how these two issues have been dealt with and what concessions business owners have wrestled out of the IRS in the last 20 years with the introduction of the Limited Liability Company (LLC).

Jurney, Thomas F. STC Williamette Valley (2002). Careers>Management>Legal


Benchmarking: A Practical Guide   (PDF)

Using benchmarking, a company compares its processes with another best-practice company to improve the way it does business. The panelists, who have participated in several benchmarking projects, explain the benchmarking process and offer practical, real-world advice on how to do successful benchmarking.

Caldanaro, Regina M., Barbara Isa, and Lawrence D. Kunz. STC Proceedings (1994). Careers>Management>Project Management


Beyond Foucault: Toward a User-Centered Approach to Sexual Harassment Policy   (PDF)   (peer-reviewed)   (members only)

Our current national policy regarding sexual harassment, expressed through legal, economic, and popular discourses, exemplifies the Foucauldian paradigm in its attempt to regulate sexuality through seemingly authorless texts. Arguing that regulation through such discursive technologies need not lead to the effects of domination that Foucault recognized, I propose a user-centered approach to policy drafting that values the knowledge of workers as users and makers of workplace policy.

Ranney, Frances J. Technical Communication Quarterly (2000). Careers>Management>Discrimination>Sexual Harassment


Beyond Return on Investment: Managing Communication Systems as Business Assets

As communicators, we are increasingly under the gun to demonstrate the return on investment for our work. But using ROI formulas that attempt to pin down hard financial gains may actually reduce our potential credibility and influence. There's a new language and strategy for communicators that can help us move from being messengers to managers of corporate assets.

Gayeski, Diane. Communication World Bulletin (2006). Careers>Management>Financial>ROI


Body Count: Why Moving to India Won't Really Help IT

There was a story in the news a couple weeks ago about how IBM was planning to move thousands -- perhaps tens of thousands -- of technical positions to India. This isn't just IBM, though. Nearly every big company that is in the IT outsourcing or software development business is doing or getting ready to do the same thing. They call this 'offshoring,' and its goal is to save a lot of money for the companies involved because India is a very cheap place to do business. And it will accomplish that objective for awhile. In the long run, though, IT is going to have the same problems in India that it has here. The only real result of all this job-shifting will be tens of thousands of older engineers in the U.S. who will find themselves working at Home Depot. You see, 'offshoring' is another word for age discrimination.

Cringely, Robert X. PBS (2003). Careers>Management>Outsourcing>Offshoring


Breaking News!   (PDF)

This panel explores what corporate leaders in the Technical Communications field consider the hottest topics in the industry today.

Conklin, John James, Judith L. 'Judy' Glick-Smith, George Hayhoe, Thomas B. Hoyt and Deborah Rosenquist. STC Proceedings (1998). Careers>TC>Knowledge Management>Localization


Breaking out of the Cubicle: How a Small, Swiss Company Got its Groove On

In the mid-1990s, Makiko Itoh and her partner left New York's cubicle land for a web shop of their own in the suburbs of Zurich. Learn from her tips on running your own web agency.

Itoh, Makiko. List Apart, A (2001). Careers>Management>Web Design


Breaking With Tradition

Though the term 'agile' isn't often ascribed to the ways of software configuration management, Steve Berczuk offers some ways in which applying the principles of agile SCM can help teams work more effectively.

Berczuk, Steve. StickyMinds (2006). Careers>Project Management>Agile


The Bucket Brigade: A Hands-On Workshop on Mobilizing Communications Resources to Extinguish Company or Client Fires   (PDF)

Technical communicators are accustomed to being thrown into the breech when their employers or clients confront severe business challenges. Rather than rush into the fray, we stand a better chance of tilting the business outcomes in our companies’ or clients’ favor if we remain disciplined under fire. A good way to achieve that discipline is to structure the communications team in a manner best suited to collaborative ventures and then implement those ventures in an orderly process called integrated strategic communication. This workshop begins with a brief explanation of how the Communications Department at Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control - Orlando (LMMFC-O) uses integrated strategic communication to defend the company’s existing business base or seek new business in the fiercely competitive defense industry. Workshop participants will work in teams to complete practical hands-on exercises applying the process of integrated strategic communication to scenarios involving pressing business/technical communication challenges.

Voss, Daniel W. and William C. Wiese. STC Proceedings (2001). Careers>Management>Collaboration


The Bucks Stop Here: Your Technical Communication Business   (PDF)   (members only)

Guess uses personal anecdotes from her years as a business owner to provide five lessons she learned the hard way on running a technical communication business.

Guess, Suzanne. Intercom (2010). Careers>Management>TC


Building Successful Teams in the Midst of Transition

Some people seem to thrive on change. How do they do it? How do they manage change in a way that they not only survive, but also excel? They seem to make change work for them. Here are five essentials on how to take your team through times of transition. One of the most significant essentials for success during transition is teambuilding. Leaders who can challenge, motivate and empower their teams through change are successful.

McKee, Thomas W. Communication World Bulletin (2003). Careers>Management>Collaboration


Building the UX Dreamteam - Part 2

Skills in research, information architecture, interaction design, graphic design and writing define the recognized areas of User Experience design. However, there still remains much to discuss about what makes a UX team dreamy. Each UX Dreamteam has a finely tuned mix of skills and qualities, as varied as the environments in which they operate. Part two will address whether a person has the right ‘hard’ skills and ‘soft’ qualities like communication style, creativity and leadership ability to fit your particular organizational context. We’ll also touch on the quality of an individual’s personality that may or may not complement the others on your team.

Colfelt, Anthony. Boxes and Arrows (2008). Careers>Management>User Experience>Collaboration


Business Entity Options

You've mastered Photoshop, Flash, PHP, CSS, XHTML and JavaScript; studied usability, accessibility, and information architecture; and can fake your way through XML. But there’s more to running a web business than that.

Kramer, Scott. List Apart, A (2002). Careers>Management>Web Design


Business Plans Build Good Business   (PDF)

Developing a business plan—without it, your independent practice will flounder.

Frick, Elizabeth G. 'Bette'. Intercom (2004). Careers>Management>Planning>Business Communication


Business Roundtable:  Are You Ready to Grow Your Business?   (Word)

In 2001 and beyond, do you plan to be the boss?  If you have the entrepreneurial itch, running your own business may be central to your career plan.  What practical, professional and emotional pitfalls are in store?  Four successful business owners share their experiences and discuss how to turn potential pitfalls into challenging, lucrative adventures.  

Fredrickson, Lola, Sheila Jones, Stephanie L. Rosenbaum and Donna Sakson. STC Proceedings (2000). Careers>Management>TC


Calculating the Value-Added: What Hiring Managers Need to Know About Academic Technical Communication Programs   (PDF)

Hiring managers need to understand academic programs in technical communication in order to evaluate potential new hires, especially for entry-level positions in challenging, high-tech, international environments. Changes in the profession, in the workplace, and in higher education have led to the proliferation of academic programs. These may offer advantages over non-academic training, in terms of cost, comprehensiveness, content, and control. Academic programs are also different among themselves, based on credentials, institutions, instructors, and program homes. By developing reasonable, informed expectations for what academic programs teach, managers who hire program graduates can experience the payoffs of lower-risk, more cost-effective long-term hires.

Rehling, Louise. STC Proceedings (1996). Careers>Interviewing>Management


A Call to Action

Employee engagement is certainly one of the hottest of the hot communication topics right now. It can be easily misunderstood as a new communication fad, given the attention it’s being given these days. But the truth is that engagement—winning the hearts and minds of employees—has always been the ultimate goal of effective employee communicators.

D'Aprix, Roger. Communication World Bulletin (2005). Careers>Management>Public Relations


Capital Equipment Workshop   (PDF)

This workshop exposes attendees to the complexities of capital equipment budgeting and purchase, specifically in the areas of depreciation, useful life of a product, and accounting and company policy. By role-playing in a simulated business environment, attendees 'learn the ropes' and sharpen their skills.

Caernarven-Smith, Patricia. STC Proceedings (1994). Careers>Management


The Care and Feeding of Freelancers

Freelancers can be bright, savvy, ornery, creative -- a thousand descriptions apply, but 'conformist' usually isn't one of them. Here are some tips for hiring and working with freelancers, and for keeping your employees happy at the same time.

Adams, Eric J. Creative Pro (2004). Careers>Freelance>Management


The Care and Feeding of Teams: Strategies for Team Leaders   (PDF)

Teams, like individuals, go through various developmental stages. Understanding these stages enables a team leader to know if the team is developing normally. Although the team leader’s role and level of involvement vary from stage to stage, there are strategies that the leader can use to spur the team’s growth at each stage.

Hansen, Lauren Y. and Susan M. J. Lester. STC Proceedings (1999). Careers>Management>Collaboration



As an agile coach, I get the opportunity to facilitate many teams’ first iteration planning meeting. Now these meetings do start out like typical meetings, with everyone sitting around a table and one person talking. But as the meeting progresses and discussions begin around the work, it can begin to look like chaos to an outsider. What I didn’t realize however, until recently, was that it can also look like chaos to some of the insiders as well!

Sliger, Michele. On Becoming Agile (2006). Careers>Management>Agile



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