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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


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


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 Daily Stand-Up

The first and most basic rhythm of the Agile feedback cycle is the daily standup. It's just what it sounds like - a daily meeting where everyone stands up for the duration of the meeting. When I give Agile workshops, one of the questions I'm often asked is how to do daily standups when the teams are geographically dispersed. While this can be a challenge to coordinate and maintain, you'll soon find that the benefits of the daily communication make it well worth the effort. Here are several options to consider with your team:

Sliger, Michele. Rally Software Development (2005). Careers>Project Management>Agile>Collaboration


The Diary as a Professional Development Tool   (PDF)

This progression session focuses on diaries as serious tools for professional development. We discuss attitudes toward keeping diaries; issues such as anonymity and confidentiality; and strategies for tapping the full potential of the diary as a source of creativity and guidance.

Janicko, Raymond P. STC Proceedings (1995). Careers>Project Management


Effective Project Planning   (PDF)

Our roles as technical communicators are often dictated to us by other people. Clients come to us after their product has already been developed, saying, 'I need a manual,' or 'I've written the necessary procedures--just make them look nice. ' It's easy to fall into the trap of just doing what we're told when we're told to do it.

Hansen, Lauren Y. STC Proceedings (1997). Careers>Project Management>Planning


Encouraging Innovation in Your Organization   (PDF)

In today's environment we often find ourselves drowning in our work. We don't take the time to stop and assess what we are doing. Are there better ways to do what we do? Are we making the biggest and best contribution we can make? Can you manage innovation? This paper will discuss the importance of innovation and one method we used to drive innovation.

Crawford, Vanadis, Angela Pitts, Rosalind Radcliffe and Leah Ann Seifert. STC Proceedings (2004). Careers>Workplace>Project Management>Assessment


Estimating Resources in Technical Writing

Project management principles that can easily be applied to working as a documentation manager.

Prabhakar, Rahul. Blogspot (2006). Careers>Management>Project Management>Technical Writing


Getting Sidetracked Projects Back on Track

How do you get your project back on track? How do you turn the client around to your ideas? Over the years, we’ve found ourselves in this exact situation and have learned a few tricks that gets our work back on track, making sure we end our projects with high fives all around.

ZURBlog (2012). Careers>Consulting>Project Management


Handling Tough Situations: The Short Method

We discussed how to buy time when you are assaulted by an unpleasant surprise. Our argument was that few people respond well to challenging situations unless they have some time to prepare. Therefore, whenever you can, you should divide the task into four distinct phases: (1) minimal immediate response, (2) preparation, (3) problem-solving discussion, and (4) follow-through. Unfortunately, some situations don't let you postpone a full discussion. For such cases, you need the 'short method,' which condenses phases 1-3.

Reimold, Cheryl. IEEE PCS (2000). Careers>Collaboration>Project Management


Hello, My Name is Doug and I'm a Workaholic

It's important to be able to distinguish between workaholics and people who are simply wrapped up in their work--either because they enjoy it so much or because, temporarily, they have decided to make it a priority to win a promotion or attain the kind of lifestyle that they want. For a workaholic, work is the end, not the means. While it may bring wealth or power, what matters most is simply working. Just as alcoholics drink because they must--not always because they enjoy it--so a workaholic is addicted to working even when there is no rational reason for doing so.

Davis, Douglas W. STC (2007). Careers>Workplace>Project Management


How To Find Time For…Everything!

Time management is one of the most important skills a freelance worker can learn. With a good time management system you can easily find the time to do the things that are important to you, whether in your professional or personal life. Successful time management can be challenging, especially to those who are new to freelancing or being self-employed.

Chapman, Cameron. Smashing (2009). Careers>Freelance>Project Management>Workflow


I Need to Know What?   (PDF)

Every technical communicator must develop a set of management skills appropriate to the task in order to excel as the leader of the communication team. This calls for multiple skills including being part diplomat, part technical expert, part salesman, and part turtle.

Bailey, Elizabeth. STC Proceedings (2005). Careers>TC>Project Management


I'm a Technical Communicator. Why Project Management?

Project management? Why do technical communication students need to know project management? I tell my students that even if they never create a spreadsheet in Microsoft Excel, they should understand something about managing projects — in particular, about managing tech comm projects.

Kunz, Larry. Carolina Communique (2014). Articles>Careers>TC>Project Management


Improving Management of Your Business

All companies have business processes that can be improved. Most companies can benefit from automation or further automation of solutions.

Pires, Halstatt. Ezine Articles (2006). Careers>Management>Project Management>Workflow


ISO Procedure Development: Using Kickoff Meetings as a Project Management Tool   (PDF)

ISO procedure manuals are sophisticated, dynamic documents that are developed as the result of a complex process. This panel focuses on an often overlooked but critical aspect of project management—the kickoff meeting. Kickoff meetings bring together all the key people and issues from the beginning, thus mitigating rework and problems later in the project. Kickoff meetings can be used to introduce and manage the ISO procedure development process: empowering the ISO procedure-development team, gathering information to capture best practice, and reviewing and validating information.

McCulley, Stephanie and Janice J. Rowan. STC Proceedings (1994). Careers>Project Management>Standards


Keep Pesky Business Types at Bay by Focusing on the Strategic Goal   (members only)

If you have ever been forced to deal with business types who have no technical know-how, then you know how these types can work against IT's progress. Here's how to improve your business/IT communication by concentrating on the strategic goals.

Hardin, Ken. TechRepublic (2003). Careers>Business Communication>Project Management>Collaboration


Lessons Learned the Hard Way in an Architectural Document Disaster   (members only)

Delivering project reports in radically different formats gave the client a bad impression of this consulting firm. Here's how the staff remedied the situation and learned from their mistake.

Kalvar, Shannon T. TechRepublic (2003). Careers>Consulting>Project Management>Reports


Making Spaces in Cluttered Houses and Cluttered Lives

Putting Pedersen’s advice to practice, step one is to make a place for everything in our lives. Figure out where it belongs. Just as you can’t organize a house if you have no where to put things, you can’t organize your life if you have no way space for the activities. If something doesn’t fit, it’s time for a trip to the figurative Salvation Army (we call them Deseret Industries here). In other words, simplify.

Johnson, Tom H. I'd Rather Be Writing (2009). Careers>Project Management>Advice>Workflow


Manage the Kaizen Way!   (PDF)

Kaizen is a Japanese phrase that means 'continuous improvement' and has long been used by Japanese managers. Find out how to apply this style to your work as a technical communicator and how kaizen can also be used effectively when working in a team.

Gopalakrishnan, Janani. Intercom (2006). Careers>Management>Project Management


Managing a Virtual Team   (PDF)

Managing a team of employees who are located around the world can be challenging. Discover how to efficiently and effectively work to create the highest level of output.

Damrau, Jackie. Intercom (2006). Careers>Management>Project Management>Offshoring


Managing the Chaos of Freelancing by Taking Control of Your Schedule   (PDF)

As freelancers, we all face the problem of feast or famine: sometimes we're overwhelmed with work, and can hardly find time to think, let alone keep up with our other responsibilities, but other times dust gathers on our computers while we wait for new work to arrive. Clearly, marketing our services and finding new clients is important to avoid the "famine" part of the freelance lifestyle, but what do you do when too much work is arriving?

Hart, Geoffrey J.S. STC Consulting SIG (2009). Careers>Consulting>Project Management


Managing the Monster, Managing the Zoo   (PDF)

Every technical communicator, whether controlling a single large project or a dozen small ones, must develop a set of management skills appropriate to the task in order to remain a qualified member of the communication team. This calls for being part diplomat, part technical expert, part salesman, and part rhinoceros.

Wise, Daniel E. and Elizabeth Bailey. STC Proceedings (2004). Careers>TC>Project Management


Managing the Monster; Managing the Zoo   (PDF)

Every technical communicator, whether controlling a single large project or a dozen small ones, must develop a set of management skills appropriate to the task in order to remain a qualified member of the communication team. This calls for being part diplomat, part technical expert, part salesman, and part rhinoceros.

Wise, Daniel E. and Elizabeth Bailey. STC Proceedings (2002). Careers>Project Management


Managing Your Customers' Expectations   (PDF)

How many customers do you know who deliberately set out to make your life difficult? Not many, I’m sure. They probably don’t anticipate that adding three new chapters to a manual means that the project deadline needs to change or another writer needs to be hired. They may not realize that another round of reviews requires more (billable) hours of work. In most cases, good two-way communication prevents problems in the first place and provides solutions for the unforeseen issues that arise.

Frick, Elizabeth A. 'Betsy'. Intercom (2003). Careers>Business Communication>Project Management



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