A directory of resources inthe field of technical communication.


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Outsourcing is subcontracting a process, such as product design or manufacturing, to a third-party company. Outsourcing became part of the business lexicon during the 1980s, as project management developed as a field. It became more visible in technical communication after the 1990s, when salaries in the field rose significantly, encouraging employers to attempt to lower costs for documentation/user assistance (often regarded by business models as a 'cost center'). It is sometimes considered related to offshoring, the relocation of business processes from one country to another.



Benchmarking Translation Agencies   (PDF)

Whether you are new at the translation business or a veteran of many globalization projects, a benchmarking study of your translation supplier(s) is a worthwhile endeavor. In benchmarking, you compare suppliers against one another based on specific criteria. The suppliers’ performance in the study can reassure you that your current relationship is a good one, or can lead to you a more compatible agency.

Finan, Jill. STC International TC SIG (2001). Articles>Language>Outsourcing>Translation


The Biggest Challenge is Determining Where to Go

Outsourcing has become a solid strategy for organizations looking to improve productivity and reduce costs. Today, companies are no longer asking “should we do this?” but rather, “what region makes the most sense?” Outsourcing Institute’s Frank Casale shares why a successful partnership starts with ‘transformation mindset’ and what factors should be considered when outsourcing offshore.

Achille, Jeanne. TC World (2009). Articles>Management>Outsourcing


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


Change Management – An Underestimated Success Factor

Although the creation and translation of technical documents are essential parts of the product lifecycle they still play a subordinate role in most international organizations. Many companies are therefore leaving these tasks to an outsourcing provider. To ensure a smooth collaboration and guarantee high quality technical documents, the outsourcing process needs to be planned and supported thoroughly.

Grosser, Sabine and Rob Heemels. TC World (2008). Articles>Content Management>Outsourcing>Technical Writing


Choosing a Translation Agency   (PDF)

There is no single factor that will determine your best choice of a translation agency. It should not be based on price alone, because as the old saying goes, “you get what you pay for”. Nor should it be based solely on the company’s size, number of employees, or any similar strictly objective measurement factor. Although such information may be important, and should be considered, it is just part of the total picture you need to adequately evaluate an agency.

Nagy, Charlene. STC International TC SIG (2001). Articles>Language>Outsourcing>Translation


Communicating Change to a Technical Organization   (PDF)

Communications played an important role in a major organizational transformation and outsourcing undertaking by the Information Technology Organization (ITO) of BellSouth Telecommunications. A two-person team was assigned to plan and develop internal and external communications during the project’s 18-month duration. The approach they took was closely related to the process for planning and developing technical communications. An 11-step method resulted and it is now used to improve communications at many levels within the ITO.

Wagnecz, Lorlee E. STC Proceedings (1998). Presentations>Management>Outsourcing


Designing for Offshore Development

One of the most significant realities about offshore developers is that they will build exactly what you tell them to build. This is both good and bad news. The good news is that they are likely to take your specification very seriously--not merely as a suggestion or starting point from which to improvise. The bad news, of course, is that if you don't clearly plan and articulate every aspect of your product from user interface and product behavior to business logic and algorithms, developers are forced to rely on their own experience and judgement to determine an appropriate solution to an unforeseen problem or vaguely documented feature. The reality with offshore resources, however, is that they are very unlikely to have that experience.

Cronin, Dave. Cooper Journal (2004). Articles>Management>Outsourcing>Offshoring


Ensuring Quality in Outsourcing

Business Process Outsourcing has become a leading business model of our time. While the increasing pressure to cut cost is still among the primary drivers for this trend, today quality has become a major issue when it comes to choosing an outsourcing partner. Here is an overview of standards and models that help measure and improve the quality of outsourcing services.

Rouget, Roy. TC World (2009). Articles>Management>Outsourcing>Assessment


Ethical and Intercultural Challenges for Technical Communicators and Managers in a Shrinking Global Marketplace   (peer-reviewed)   (members only)

In today's shrinking global marketplace, many technical communicators face challenges related to intercultural communication. This article examines ethical issues in intercultural communication, beginning with a brief survey of classical ethical models, then focusing on the guidelines for ethical communication developed by Allen and Voss to provide a framework for discussion. Of Allen and Voss's 10 values for ethical communication, we focus on privacy, legality, teamwork, social responsibility, and cultural sensitivity. We offer specific suggestions for avoiding stereotyping, tokenism, and ethnocentrism in technical documentation, including before-and-after examples. We examine the risks involved in using graphics and icons and in attempting to translate idiomatic usages. The article concludes with guidelines for technical communicators preparing documentation for international audiences and with suggestions for managers who wish to give their employees guidance regarding ethical and effective intercultural communication.

Voss, Daniel W. and Madelyn Flammia. Technical Communication Online (2007). Careers>TC>Outsourcing>Offshoring


Evaluating and Choosing a Service Provider   (PDF)

Small- to middle-sized companies are often dependent on third-party service providers to complete tasks related to documentation production. Formally evaluating service providers is one way for documentation managers to ensure that their company and documentation team are getting maximum service, top quality, and competitive prices. Evaluations must be carefully planned and implemented in order to produce reliable results. The planning phase lets the documentation managers “set the stage” for an evaluation by defining and communicating the main objectives. The subsequent implementation phase lets participants gather the key information required to select the best service provider.

Weirich, Margaret. STC Proceedings (2003). Articles>Documentation>Outsourcing>Assessment


Exporting Technical Writing Jobs

Traditionally, contractors have played an important role in the technical writing field by providing specific expertise, thereby allowing companies to focus on their core competencies. Contactors have made it possible for companies to add temporary personnel when needed ' an important benefit in a field where work output peaks periodically.

VanNorman, Maggie. Carolina Communique (2004). Careers>TC>Outsourcing>Offshoring


The Future of Technical Writing in India   (PowerPoint)

Technical Writing in India has experienced explosive growth in business volumes as a result of outsourcing. 75 writers based in India are registered with the STC. Estimated 2,500- to 3,000-strong workforce.

Biswas, Nilanjana. STC India (2003). Presentations>Writing>Outsourcing>India


The Hidden Costs of Offshore Outsourcing

The current stampede toward offshore outsourcing should come as no surprise. For months now, the business press has been regurgitating claims from offshore vendors that IT work costing $100 an hour in the United States can be done for $20 an hour in Bangalore or Beijing. If those figures sound too good to be true, that's because they are.

Overby, Stephanie. CIO Magazine (2003). Careers>TC>Outsourcing>Offshoring


How Outsourcing Can Boost Your Tech Writing Career

Most technical writers see outsourcing as a real threat. But, if you look at it from another angle, it’s one huge business opportunity.

Walsh, Ivan. I Heart Tech Docs (2009). Careers>Writing>Technical Writing>Outsourcing


I Have People for That: Outsourcing Corporate Communication

Outsourcing is not new to the corporate communication department. The breadth and complexity of communication technology and the widely varied skills needed to communicate effectively to all audiences make it nearly impossible for a corporate communication department to do it all. Every organization handles communication outsourcing differently. However, there are two basic models of outsourcing currently in use.

Collura, Kathy. Communication World Bulletin (2008). Articles>Business Communication>Outsourcing


In a Downturn, Is It Better to Use Contractors, Permanent Staff or an Outsourcing Company?

In a downturn, priorities in a business often change, and these changes can affect technical authors as much as others. At the London Connections event earlier this week, where I was promoting Cherryleaf's technical writing services, I was chatting to Mike Southon about business strategies in a downturn. Mike is Visiting Fellow in Innovation and Entrepreneurship at London South Bank University, amongst other things, so I value his judgement. He said, in a downturn, businesses should focus on its Return on Investment, minimising risk and watching its cashflow. So, does this mean you should favour contract technical authors over permanent staff, or vice versa? Should you outsource technical writing work instead? Actually, each option has its merits.

Pratt, Ellis. Cherryleaf (2008). Careers>Management>Outsourcing>United Kingdom


In, Out or Somewhere In Between

When considering possible staffing models for structuring your corporate communication function, your choices typically range from the extremes of establishing an all in-house staff to totally outsourcing the function by enlisting the services of a PR agency (or agencies) to do it all for you. More common is the combination that takes advantage of the benefits of the two previous options, while hopefully minimizing their disadvantages.

Eschbach, Peter A. Communication World Bulletin (2008). Articles>Management>Outsourcing>Public Relations


Mauritius: An International Business Hub

Crystal-clear waters, splendid white beaches and luxurious ressorts – these are usually the things associated with Mauritius. Far away from the world’s major markets and sources, the island nation in the Indian Ocean seems more of a touristic center of recreation than an international business hub. However, in recent years, Mauritius has come a long way in implementing its vision: transforming the island into a regional hub for information and communication technology (ICT).

Kencki, Devi. TC World (2008). Articles>Management>Outsourcing>Offshoring


The Moment of Truth: How Much Does Culture Matter to You?

Whether we like it or not, offshoring is here to stay. 'If' or 'when' to offshore is no longer an issue. The heart of the discussion is 'how much' – how much we can afford to offshore or, more precisely, how much we can afford to keep. The User Experience (UX) profession has gone a long way in making the distinction between software design and UX design known. Will we be able to hold on to that distinction when it comes to offshoring?

Gorlenko, Lada. uiGarden (2006). Articles>Web Design>Outsourcing>Offshoring


Money Or The Gun

Businesses large and small can focus on what they do best by outsourcing non-core functions such as debt recovery.

Krueger, Ron. Outsourcing Institute, The (2006). Careers>Management>Outsourcing>Offshoring


Offshore Project Management : The Business to Technical Communication (Part II)

As a project manager there are many things going through PM's mind. Many tasks - knowledge bank - technical and as well as business wise.

Khanna, Manoj. RapidBlog (2005). Articles>Project Management>Outsourcing>Offshoring


Offshore Usability

To save costs, some companies are outsourcing Web projects to countries with cheap labor. Unfortunately, these countries lack strong usability traditions and their developers have limited access -- if any -- to good usability data from the target users.

Nielsen, Jakob. Alertbox (2002). Articles>Usability>Outsourcing>Offshoring


Offshoring: Outsourcing Goes Global

Outsourcing has been a routine practice in the communication field for some time now—fully 20 percent of IABC members are self-employed or have a communication/PR consultancy. The last economic downturn strengthened this trend even more. Offshoring is being studied everywhere from Washington, D.C., to the academic world to well-known consulting firms such as McKinsey and Mercer. The general consensus across the board is that offshoring is a growing phenomenon that won’t go away, jobs lost to offshoring are unlikely to come back, and the trend may affect as many as three million jobs in the U.S. by 2015.

Recca, Lee. Communication World Bulletin (2005). Articles>Management>Outsourcing>Offshoring


Offshoring: What Does It Mean for Us?   (PDF)

Summarizes a discussion about offshoring held at the Philadelphia Metro chapter's annual conference during which panelists suggested ways that technical communicators based in the United States can make their positions more secure.

Rosenberg, Nad. Intercom (2004). Careers>TC>Outsourcing>Offshoring



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