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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.

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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


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.

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Events: Tech Comm Manager Empowerment Coming to LavaCon Las Vegas 2016

Aug 3, 2016   //   by Barry Saiff   //   Blog, Evaluating Technical Writers, Events, LavaCon, Managing Technical Writers  //  No Comments

Empower Manager cover

Saiff Solutions invites you to our workshop and breakout session at LavaCon Las Vegas 2016:

Enabling Excellence: A Workshop for Documentation Managers

Presented by Barry Saiff, CEO of Saiff Solutions and Mike McGraw, former Documentation Manager, Qualcomm
Tuesday, October 25, 2016, 1:00PM – 5:00PM PST

We’ll discuss strategies for documentation management excellence, and work together to conquer the biggest challenges we face as documentation managers.

Stay with us after the workshop for complimentary wine & cheese, an opportunity to network with fellow doc managers, and to celebrate the 5 Year Anniversary of Saiff Solutions!

CARVE and SLAP Your Way to THRIVE as a Manager

Presented by Barry Saiff, CEO of Saiff Solutions
Wednesday, October 26, 2016, 1:45PM – 2:45PM PST

Learn the skills that successful managers of technical communicators use to succeed, across the world. Understand the key success factors for management, empowerment, motivation, and effectiveness in the face of constant change.

Have a management question you’d like us to address? Contact us.

Register for LavaCon Las Vegas 2016 button

Register before September 23 to save $600 USD

View LavaCon Las Vegas 2016 program
All links, dates, and savings are accurate at the time of this post and is subject to change.

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+7 More Habits of Highly Effective Technical Writers

Aug 3, 2016   //   by Barry Saiff   //   Blog, Evaluating Technical Writers, Managing Technical Writers, Outsourcing  //  No Comments

+7 Habits cover

Here is a list of the +7 more habits of highly effective technical writers. Adopt these habits to set yourself apart from other technical writers to become a strong leader.

  1. Be a customer advocate
  2. Advocate for process improvements
  3. Care about all customer-visible content
  4. Be an effective intrapreneur
  5. Know your audience
  6. Promote appropriate technical communications methodologies, gently
  7. Keep perspective and de-stress

Learn about the details as part of the STC-Sponsored 14 Habits of Highly Effective Technical Writers Slide Deck

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Webinars: Recording – How to Motivate and Empower Globally-Competitive Content Teams

Apr 19, 2016   //   by Barry Saiff   //   Blog, How-To, Managing Technical Writers, Outsourcing, Webinars  //  No Comments

Missed Out? Join Our Live, Interactive Encore of This Webinar

We’re offering a complimentary, second chance opportunity to learn from other technical writing, content managers and other professionals from many different industries across the globe. You can also take part in interactive discussions and ask questions around your needs.

Click here for details and registration.


Saiff Solutions In The Media

- TechWhirl
- Nominated for 2015 Rice Bowl Asean Start Up

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“Barry [Saiff] has extensive experience both as a manager of technical writers and as a writer. As a manager, he is fair, encourages innovation, and is open to divergent points of view. As a writer, he can grasp very complex concepts and explain those concepts to end user through administrator audiences. Additionally, he has expert knowledge of all components of the documentation process, including corporate style guides, editing, writing, working with localization, and production. Barry is very much a people person and wherever he goes, he cultivates a large network of friendly yet professional relationships. He’s worked successfully with both on-site subject matter experts as well as those across the world. During my time working with Barry, he’s run a number of successful efforts to improve the usability of documentation. In one such case, he recruited a cross-functional team to overhaul the documentation based on the recommendations of this user-facing group of subject matter experts.”

Steve Anderson
Principal Technical Writer, Symantec
December 16, 2010

Read more testimonials here.