Browsing articles in "Blog"

The History of Technical Writing [Infographic & Video]

Dec 13, 2016   //   by Barry Saiff   //   Blog, Content Strategy, Evaluating Technical Writers, Managing Technical Writers, Outsourcing  //  No Comments

Learn the key stages of transformation that the technical communications profession has gone through during the last five decades.

This five-minute video takes you through the history of technical writing, from the infancy of a new profession through a rebellious adolescence that led to a revolution in Unified Content Strategy and topic-based authoring during tech comm’s young adulthood.

 

Technical communications is now experiencing an identity-challenging paradigm shift in its midlife — in many cases moving from Engineering departments into Marketing, feeling greater pressure to outsource, and experiencing both challenges and opportunities from automation.

As you watch the video, you  can follow the tech comm profession’s exciting story with this infographic. Then, please ask us how you can help chart your organization’s technical writing transformation.

history-of-technical-writing

You may also like:

Recap of LavaCon Las Vegas 2016

barry-saiff-at-lavacon-las-vegas-2016

What We Learned from LavaCon Las Vegas 2016

Here are some of our top take-aways from LavaCon Las Vegas 2016:

  • The basic topic types (concept, task, reference) were developed based on cognitive science – what we understood over 20 years ago about how the brain works and how people learn. A new approach, combining the latest cognitive science with information mapping, has yielded a new authoring methodology. Learn more about this from Precision Content.
  • MadCap Software, famous for the authoring tool Flare, now offers a component content management system (CCMS), Central. Central is free to all until the end of 2016.
  • Many low-cost alternatives are available for companies that cannot or will not spend many tens of thousands of dollars on a CCMS. One promising low-cost CCMS is XDocs from Bluestream.
  • Other low-cost solutions can be created by combining the latest HTML technologies. For example, you can combine Oxygen, a low-cost XML editor that supports topic-based authoring, with GitHub, a code repository product that can be used effectively to manage customer content.

Look for more information on low cost CCMS alternatives in future blog posts and webinars from Saiff Solutions, or ask us!

Saiff Solutions Empowered Tech Comm Managers

skills-of-a-good-documentation-managerjob-description-for-doc-managers

 

 

 

 

 

Documentation managers of all experience levels met with our CEO Barry Saiff for an engaging discussion. Barry Saiff has 30+ years of combined global technical writing and documentation manager experience.

Video recap | Photos

Events: Virtual Summit on Advanced Practices in Technical Communication 2016

virtual-summit-on-advanced-practices-in-technical-communication

December 6-8, 2016

The Content Wrangler is sponsoring The Virtual Summit on Advanced Practices in Technical Communication, a free, three-day event designed especially for technical communication professionals. The event features 12 free one-hour sessions from some of the industry’s best and brightest talents — experts in agile outsourcing, XML authoring, content strategy, content management, translation and localization, intelligent content, plain language, customer experience, and more. Learn more.

tech-writing-outsourcing-in-agile

As part of The Virtual Summit, Saiff Solutions, yours truly, is sharing its knowledge on Managing Technical Writing Outsourcing in an Agile Environment on December 8, 2016 at 6pm EST. Register below, it’s free!

register-here-button

Webinar: Content Wrangler Sponsored, Managing Technical Writing Outsourcing in an Agile Environment

Oct 26, 2016   //   by Barry Saiff   //   Blog, Content Strategy, How-To, Outsourcing, Webinars  //  No Comments

tech-writing-outsourcing-in-agile

December 8, 2016, 3:00 PM PST
Hosted by Scott Abel, The Content Wrangler
Presented by Barry Saiff, CEO of Saiff Solutions/Expert in Tech Writing Outsourcing and Fred Williams, CEO of Williams Technical/Agile Advocate

Value of Agile

Agile development offers advantages. Short cycles, cross-disciplinary teams, frequent short meetings, and input from users can lead to satisfied customers and faster product delivery. Technical writing outsourcing is often late to the game–with other teams already globally distributed. Even when technical writers are co-located with developers, process issues can pose obstacles. For example, without a mechanism for notifying writers of user interface changes, accuracy suffers.

Synopsis

Can technical writing outsourcing work in an Agile environment, even if writers are off-shore and developers are not? Join Scott Abel, The Content Wrangler, Barry Saiff, CEO of Saiff Solutions, and Fred Williams, CEO of Williams Technical, for this free one-hour webinar. Our presenters will discuss how innovative organizations are successfully merging technical writing outsourcing with Agile development.

What You’ll Learn

You’ll learn the key steps to success in technical writing outsourcing, how outsourced writers integrate into Agile teams, and how to manage these approaches to improve quality, save time, and reduce costs.

Reserve My Seat bunny

Video: The LavaCon Conference and Why You Should Go

Oct 17, 2016   //   by Barry Saiff   //   Blog, LavaCon  //  No Comments

Find out what The LavaCon Content Strategy Conference is and why you should go as told by active LavaCon attendee, exhibitor, and presenter Barry Saiff.

You may also like:

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Technical Communications Leaders

Oct 5, 2016   //   by Christian Cahapin   //   Blog, Evaluating Technical Writers, How-To, Managing Technical Writers  //  No Comments

7-habits-of-highly-effective-technical-communications-leaders-banner

You can be an effective leader, regardless of your position. These 7 habits go beyond the basics of developing good content, to answer this question:

As a technical communications leader, at any level, how do you influence the work environment, improve the processes, and educate the people to make continuous improvement possible?

1. Be a Customer Advocate

be-a-customer-advocateWhile you may have less product knowledge than an engineer, you can view the product from a user’s perspective. Share your input and advocate for product and process improvements. Support similar efforts initiated by others. Focus on quality.

2. Advocate for Process Improvementsadvocate-for-process-improvements

Process improvements can benefit everyone on the team, and improve product quality. Can the quality assurance team test the documentation? Can technical writers edit the user interface text and error messages? Can written documentation reviews become a factor in the performance evaluations of all product team members? Would documentation review meetings improve quality?

3. Care About All Customer-visible Content

If you’re only writing the customer documentation, there is a chance that no one with your skills is editing other user-visible content. Even if you cannot edit this content, you can educate others about key technical writing practices. For example – One concept, One term – each word should be used to mean only one thing. This avoids user confusion, and saves translation funds. Another key technical writing practice: short sentences.

4. Be an Effective Intrapreneurbe-an-effective-intrapreneur

Think about how to create change – look before you leap. Understand the who, what, and how of change. Who are the key stakeholders and decision-makers, and what motivates them? What do they care about? How can you best bring them on board? What are their backgrounds – cultural, professional, educational? Start with curiosity. Listen. Discuss. Ask questions.

5. Know Your Audience

know-your-audienceWhat do you know about the users – education levels, roles? How do they use the product and access the documentation? What percentage read the documentation in English? Collaborative efforts with other teams can aid your research. One way to learn more is to conduct a user survey. While gaining approval can be an uphill battle, the insights gained from a well-designed survey can make the effort worthwhile.

6. Promote Appropriate Technical Communications Methodologies Gentlypromote-appropriate-technical-communications-methodologies-gently

Not every organization needs to use the latest methodologies. What worked elsewhere may not work for your team. Bring others along with you – educate and involve engineers, quality assurance personnel, marketers, and product managers in assessing and exploring new methodologies. For example, some organizations can benefit from adopting topic-based authoring, without XML or DITA.

7. Keep Perspective, and De-stress

keep-perspective-and-destressMistakes provide tremendous opportunities for personal and organizational growth, including improved processes, communications, and skills. Accept these moments and make the most of them. Learn from successes and failures. Remember that what is truly irreplaceable is human life. Learn what you need, and what your coworkers need, to reduce and relieve stress.

Consistently practicing these 7 habits will support your development as an effective technical communications leader, continuous process improvement in your organization, harmonious work relationships, and improved content and product quality. Be the change you wish to see.

You may also like:

Pages:«123456»

Saiff Solutions In The Media

- TechWhirl
- Nominated for 2015 Rice Bowl Asean Start Up

Click image to enlarge

Testimonials

“Barry [Saiff] is one of those people that every company needs. He is a very efficient and productive member of any team and on top of that ensures that others feel a member of the team also. Whilst at Brightmail I got to know Barry as he was the organizer for our local toastmasters group. His energy and enthusiam encouraged this collection of diverse people to create a wonderful group experience. I would recommend Barry for any position that required trust, loyalty and a great sense of humor.”

Raj Rana
Sr Systems Engineer, Brightmail
December 27, 2010

Read more testimonials here.