A directory of resources inthe field of technical communication.

TechCom Manager

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Authoring in XML -- Why Start?

As techcom professionals, we have been talking about authoring in XML for a very long time. At first, it was a lot of hype about a format that required major programming skills and had zero tools’ support, but that is now changing. Today, there are hundreds, if not thousands, of tools that support XML and a standard called DITA that is in constant development to support content publishing for different industries. As a result, more and more companies seem to be embracing this content format.If you are a writer or techcom manager who is encouraging your company to make this change, then what do you need to know to prepare?

Stuhlemmer, Barbara. TechCom Manager (2008). Articles>Writing>XML>DITA


Behind the Scenes: Marketing Documentation Services through Leadership

When you think of marketing, do press releases, brochures, presentations, direct mail, and web sites come to mind? Those pieces are certainly parts of the puzzle.But a lot must go on behind the curtain to make those on-stage pieces worthwhile. These often hidden goings-on are the leadership techniques of a successful documentation manager. The result is a documentation department that warrants the effort expended on marketing. After all, marketing succeeds only if services are reliable, communication channels are open, and products meet expectations.

Edgerton, Rebecca J. TechCom Manager (2004). Articles>Management>Documentation>Marketing


Calculating the Financial Impact of DITA for Translation

Success in a global marketplace requires translating content into multiple languages. Moving to a topic-based XML architecture, such as the Darwin Information Typing Architecture (DITA), can help you control the translation process and save money.

Swope, Amber. TechCom Manager (2008). Articles>Management>Translation>DITA


Common Myths and Misconceptions About Layoffs

A Reduction-In-Force (RIF) or layoff is the easiest, fastest way to cut costs as companies trade immediate, short-term gains for long-term growth and performance. The detriment of this approach is wide-spread and lasting, yet management continues in this mode with greater frequency. More and more companies believe this policy just makes good business sense. But year after year, hard data and analysis disprove this notion. So let’s begin by examining some common myths about layoffs.

Barber, Kerri. TechCom Manager (2009). Careers>Management>Unemployment


Communicating for Diversity

Effective communication is a manager’s greatest tool in rallying groups toward a common cause. From the annual department address to daily email, careful audience consideration is vital in determining how accurately audiences receive messages. Even the most engaging statements loose meaning when barriers to effective communication foster misconception and confusion.

Harris, Kerri. TechCom Manager (2006). Articles>Communication


Content Management -- A Career Path for Tech Comm Managers

If you are a technical communications manager, chances are you are working for an organization that has existed for far too many years to be considered a start-up. And if your organization is relatively mature, then at this stage, the organization is also swimming, if not already drowning, in information.

Bailie, Rahel Anne. TechCom Manager (2006). Articles>Content Management>Management


Dealing With Professional Burnout

The emotional components of burnout are trickier to deal with. By the time they start becoming noticeable to those around us, the core issues are so deeply rooted that the feelings can be difficult to overcome:

Potsus, Whitney Beth. TechCom Manager (2005). Careers>TC


Effective Leadership Through Change

Changes come fast for today’s manager. Whether it revolves around local issues such as staffing, attrition patterns, or larger structural concerns like corporate-wide modifications, change of any kind represents the single greatest challenge for leadership. On an individual level, change can be difficult to accept and harder to implement. Uncertainty can lead to irrational behavior and have a negative, cascading effect throughout an organization. For managers, adapting and facilitating change is a critical skill that requires agility, acceptance, and strategic planning in order to guide employees through a difficult transition, while still maintaining personal integrity and developing strong leadership qualities.

Harris, Kerri. TechCom Manager (2006). Careers>Management


Eight Steps to Successful Software Documentation

Whether software documentation is designed for a company’s internal users or for a variety of end customers, one thing is for certain: Documentation that is well written, well structured, easily accessible, and thoroughly compliments the software it supports can play a significant role in a product’s overall success. And it doesn’t matter if the documentation stands alone or it is integrated with the product. As long as it is properly planned, developed, and configured, success is eminent.

Capri, Steve. TechCom Manager (2006). Articles>Documentation>Software


Eliminating the 'End Game' from Electronic Deliverables

Once you start looking at your publishing process separately from your content and style considerations, you will have identified how your “End Game” impacts your production process. Then, you can take the necessary steps to eliminate it.

Porter, Alan J. TechCom Manager (2007). Articles>Publishing>Online>Workflow


Five Questions to Ask Yourself While Creating a New Documentation Department

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.

Butow, Eric. TechCom Manager (2005). Articles>Management>Documentation


Five Secrets to Successful Interviewing and Hiring

The technical communications profession involves a unique mix of technical and communication skills, which is not easy to find. Most managers have had the experience of interviewing and subsequently hiring a candidate who later turns out not to be the right person for the job. This situation begs the question of how to identify which candidate is a good fit for a given position. The answer is that there are five key activities that make the difference between a successful hiring decision and a not-so-successful one. We have all been on both sides of the interview, and this article will attempt to make you, the interviewer, more successful.

O'Keefe, Karen. TechCom Manager (2004). Careers>Management>Interviewing


Fundamentals of Leadership: Communicating a Vision

Today's business climate of outsourcing, in-sourcing, virtual teams, and ROI-driven objectives can leave a manager at any level feeling powerless. Yet, we often see examples of those who can elicit unwavering support from their teams, driving highly effective projects, and getting the best performance from employees despite ever-increasing workloads. What is it about these individuals that makes them stand out as great leaders?

Harris, Kerri. TechCom Manager (2005). Academic>Management>Collaboration>Rhetoric


Giving and Receiving Feedback

Feedback is important to business, but no one needed to tell us that. As Technical Communications managers, we regularly see feedback in many forms: user feedback, customer feedback, internal feedback, external feedback, feedback from testing, and feedback in performance appraisals. As beacons of information communication in our organizations, we are responsible to communicate well and, by extension, possess a solid appreciation of and ability to respond to feedback.

Kirk, Hannah. TechCom Manager (2006). Articles>Collaboration>Assessment


Hidden Information for All to See

Just what kind of information about yourself and your company are you releasing for all the world to see? Shouldn't you know? Although it takes special forensic tools to access most hidden information in computers, some of it is in plain view without using tools to see it. This article is about one of the “plain view” instances: Information that Microsoft Word saves about you, your company, and the topic you are writing about – all of which anyone can see after accessing and opening your document.

Molisani, Jack. TechCom Manager (2006). Articles>Management>Security>Microsoft Word


Hiring Contract Technical Writers

So you've got approval to hire a contract technical writer. Maybe it's for overflow work or a special project. Nevertheless, it is your responsibility and you want to do it right.

Hartmann, Scott. TechCom Manager (2005). Careers>Management>Writing>Technical Writing


How To Justify Conference Attendance

Conference expenses are affected by a number of factors. Before you can even begin to justify conference expenses, you need to calculate what those expenses are. To do so, use the following Expenses Worksheet to develop a cost estimate for attending your selected conference.

Doyle, Michael J. TechCom Manager (2007). Articles>Management>Financial


How to Justify Hiring Technical Writers During Hard Economic Times

With our economy still on the down slope, it is difficult for technical managers to justify keeping an excessive amount of technical writers on their staffs, let alone hiring new ones. In many cases, managers feel they don’t even need writers, arguing that everyone has writing ability. Of course, today’s technical writers not only write, they also perform many other tasks: programming, web development, training, and so on. Add to that the fact that many are also highly trained and certified in other areas besides writing.

Datta, Aparna. TechCom Manager (2005). Articles>Management>Writing>Technical Writing


How to Market a Documentation Department

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.

King, Robert. TechCom Manager (2004). Articles>Management>Documentation>Marketing


An Interview with Dr. JoAnn Hackos

Implementing a content-management system may seem a little outside the purview of the technical documentation manager. But, according to JoAnn Hackos, managers and their staff can play a pivotal role in the success of a content-management project. In this interview, guest editor Scott Abel, publisher of TheContentWrangler.com, chats with Hackos about how to prepare for a move to content management and explores who needs to be involved in the process and why.

Abel, Scott. TechCom Manager (2006). Articles>Interviews>Content Management


It's In the Numbers: Using Metrics to Plan Documentation Projects

It's in the numbers. Creating documentation is not an exact science, yet as communication leaders, we are expected to provide real estimates for how much time we need to document a project, or what we can produce given a predetermined timeline.

Yundt, Margie and Sherry McMenemy. TechCom Manager (2005). Articles>Documentation>Assessment


Launching into a Writing Project -- Tips for New Writers

One of the challenges of managing new writers is helping them discover and develop their writing process. Whether the new writers have just come out of school, or have recently 'fallen into' the field without the benefit of much training, they often experience the same problems in planning and composing -- which have their roots in how they learned to write.

Potsus, Whitney Beth. TechCom Manager (2005). Careers>Management>Writing


The Life of a Lone Writer

Lone writers are found across all industries, as junior- and senior-level employees, contract workers and direct employees. Sometimes, they’re not even the only writers in their company, but rather are the only writers in their division with either little to no contact — or little to nothing in common — with the other writers in other company divisions.

Potsus, Whitney Beth. TechCom Manager (2006). Articles>Writing>Business Communication>Workplace


Making the Transition From Tech Comm to Marcom

At first glance, technical communication (techcom) and technical marketing communication (marcom) appear to be very different genres. Where traditional techcom strives to help people use products, marcom seeks to make people realize they need products. Techcom instructs, while marcom persuades, and this distinction affects everything from the genre’s focus, to its content, and medium.

Simard, Christy. TechCom Manager (2004). Careers>TC>Business Communication>Marketing


Making the Transition from Technical Writer to Manager

This article is a collage of ideas and experiences from some people who’ve made the leap from writer to manager. Although it’s not a step-by-step guideline, it provides some compelling insight as to what individuals might expect as they transition into the management ranks. Even if you are an experienced manager, you might find these ideas helpful.

Capri, Steve. TechCom Manager (2004). Careers>Management>TC



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