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Posters – 7 Habits of Highly Effective Technical Writers

Feb 18, 2016   //   by Barry Saiff   //   Blog, Concepts and Definitions, Evaluating Technical Writers, How-To, Outsourcing, Reference Articles  //  2 Comments

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See our 7 habits of highly effective technical writers aritcle here.

The 21 Dimensions of Respect

Feb 18, 2016   //   by Barry Saiff   //   Blog, Concepts and Definitions, How-To, Reference Articles  //  1 Comment

Sometimes taken for granted, RESPECT is one of a manager’s key success factors for leading productive, diverse, multi-cultural teams. The ability to deeply, broadly, and authentically respect others may not come naturally to everyone. Even if you are a “natural,” you may find these tips helpful.

RespectForForeigners

We can respect people by:

  1. Understanding them
  2. Seeking to understand before accusing
  3. Considering their feelings
  4. Listening to them
  5. Believing in them
  6. Expecting more of them than they expect of themselves
  7. Not buying into their perceived limitations
  8. Believing that they can achieve great things
  9. Being careful not to assume things about them
  10. Judging them as individuals, fairly, not as members of a group (gender, culture, etc.)
  11. Being creative about how to reduce the impact of your own biases on your decisions
  12. Hearing their unspoken concerns
  13. Knowing the signs of upset, disappointment, and anger for each person
  14. Appreciating and acknowledging them regularly, always authentically, and calibrated to give them an accurate idea about how they are doing
  15. Praise everyone: “catch them doing something well”
  16. Being responsible for your impact on them
  17. Modeling the behaviors you want to see
  18. Being as willing as you ask them to be
  19. Being careful not to blame them for your mistakes
  20. Being more responsible than they need to be
  21. When things go wrong, looking first at your own actions and way of being

Adopting a broad, global view of respect will improve morale, increase productivity, and strengthen your international business relations.

Agree, disagree? Comment below.

Join us for a special free webinar on the CARVE/SLAP/THRIVE approach to managing technical writers on April 14!  Register at the link below:

How to Motivate and Empower Globally Competitive Teams of Content Professionals

About the Author

Barry Saiff has led several small to large multicultural teams consisting of Technical Writers, Graphic Designers, Marketers, and other professionals at 7 different companies in the U.S. and Philippines. The integration of cultures has created a global knowledge base for world-class quality.

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Technical Writers

Jan 24, 2016   //   by Barry Saiff   //   Blog, Concepts and Definitions, How-To, Reference Articles  //  19 Comments

A Technical Writer’s maximum potential can be uncovered through developing these 7 habits, regardless of which country they are operating in:

1. Do not take it personally (learn)

Don't take it personally

Great technical writers thrive on criticism. They understand  that it enables them to improve, and to improve the accuracy and readability of their content. So, don’t take criticism personally. Use it to your advantage.

2. Learn before asking (respect, impress)

Learn before asking

Learn as much as you can from available resources before asking questions. In this way, you can respect others’ time and impress your colleagues with your ability to ask intelligent questions.

3. Ask (often)

Ask

Technical writing requires good people skills. Don’t attempt it alone. Ask questions. Ask for help.

4. REWRITE (always)

REWRITE

Pick 3 of your favorite writers. If you were able to see their first drafts, you’d probably think, “I can do much better.” The best writers in the world are the best re-writers. Always rewrite, rewrite, and rewrite some more.

5. Acquire Feedback (test, reviews)

Acquire Feedback

Technical writing is almost never 100% on the first draft. Without adequate testing and review, accuracy is often unattainable. Make sure you get the feedback you need to excel.

6. Understand (before publishing)

Understand

When you start, you may not fully understand your subject matter. That’s fine. By the time you publish, make sure you do understand. If you don’t understand what you write, your readers are not likely to understand it, either.

7. Contribute

Contribute

Notice things. Does the prototype work as expected? Are the user interface labels capitalized consistently? Ask questions. Make suggestions. Be a part of the product team.

Agree or disagree? We’d love to hear your comments below.

2016 New Year’s Gifts

Happy New Year from Saiff Solutions!

Please accept these presents which we think you’ll find useful for planning a successful year:

2016 calendar with information typing tips

2016 Calendar

Front | Back

2016 planning questions for your team, department, organization

 

GoalAt Saiff Solutions, Inc., we use these questions every year to support our growth and development.
Feel free to use them to support your own growth and development, as individuals and as an
organization.

  1. What did you accomplish in 2015 that you want to be acknowledged for?

 

1a. How well did you perform on your intentions and promises for 2015?

 

  1. What did you learn in 2015? (LESSONS LEARNED)

 

  1. What did you fail to accomplish in 2015?

 

  1. What is still incomplete for you? Consider your answers above, as well as people, events, or situations that you may be incomplete with.

 

  1. Are you willing to let it go? If not what do you need to do in order to get complete? By when will you do that?

 

  1. What is your vision for 12/31/16? Name at least 3 things.

 

  1. What do you intend to learn in 2016?

 

  1. What are you grateful for?

 

  1. What is your greatest challenge?

 

  1. What support do you need?

 

Optional bonus questions:

A. Fill in the blanks: I am willing to give up _______________ in order to have _________

B. What are you willing to promise for 2016?

C. What requests do you need to make to get started on fulfilling your promises and your vision?

New Brochure!

Nov 13, 2015   //   by Barry Saiff   //   Blog, Uncategorized  //  No Comments

We just published our new brochure! If you visited one of our booths at Information Development World 2015 or LavaCon 2015 you’ve seen it already. Now everyone has access to the new brochure online.

Here are links to the front and back view and the inside view:
– Front and back view
– Contents view

View our other marketing documents, including articles and case studies, here.

Creating a Customer-Centric Information Architecture

Aug 25, 2015   //   by Barry Saiff   //   Blog, Concepts and Definitions, Content Strategy, How-To, Outsourcing, Reference Articles  //  No Comments

How much difficulty do your customers have accessing your documentation and finding the exact information they need? You can improve findability, and increase customer satisfaction, with a well-designed information architecture. Information architecture is defined as:

“The art and science of structuring information (knowledge) to support findability and usability.”
— Cluadia Wunder, The Language of Content Strategy

Why is information architecture important? Because most people would rather find the information they need themselves than contact Customer Support. By improving findability, you are creating a win-win situation: Happier customers and reduced customer support costs!

In the age of instant information access, people have less patience, and may not be willing to work to find what they need.

Creating a complete customer-centric information architecture requires a thorough analysis of your content, and results in a comprehensive model that guides the organization and delivery of your content. You can get started on improving findability by implementing a few key approaches:

  • Clear topic titles that follow consistent rules help people find what they need. Even if you are still using a book paradigm, how you name your chapters and sections can make a big difference. And those sections can all be put into a hyperlinked information database.
  • A rich, varied structure of links between topics supports people who need specific information and people who want to learn more broadly.
  • The ability to find the information in your topics via searching, ideally by using a popular search engine, is crucial. If your information is only available in PDFs, this won’t work well.
  • Indexing that isn’t limited to your feature-naming scheme. A good index includes words that people unfamiliar with your product might use to describe product functions. For example, if you consistently say “power off” in your content, your index should list power off, turn off, shut down, and anything else you can imagine. To provide the best possible assistance to your users, you need to follow different rules in your index than in the rest of your content.

Do you have a customer-centric information architecture? What approaches are you using to improve findability and usability? We’re interested in your thoughts and experiences.

Are you considering outsourcing content development? Do you need some help planning your information architecture or your content strategy?
Saiff Solutions, Inc. can help you develop a strategy to succeed. Contact us if you’d like to talk:
barrysaiff AT saiffsolutions DOT com

My Thoughts On Our New Office

Jul 13, 2015   //   by Barry Saiff   //   Blog, Outsourcing, Uncategorized  //  1 Comment

My name is Gaile, and I have been working as a writer here at Saiff Solutions since April 2014. We’ve learned a great deal from the various projects we’ve completed.

Gaile7-7-2015

To write well, we need a place without loud noise. Our old office had a lot of road noise. We spent one wonderful year in our old office, and I can say that the old office served us well. We were able to build extraordinary working relationships. We developed new skills and discovered incredible things. We had our share of ups and downs, which didn’t prevent us from enriching our skills. Everything can be learned if we just try. In fact, I am calling the old office “my training ground.” As our team is growing, a new, more comfortable office is just what we need!

We moved to the new office two weeks ago, and everybody was excited to be working in a new, bright environment. I was delighted and grateful when I first walked into the office. We no longer have to deal with excessive vehicle noise, and the smell of burnt rubber any more. (There was an automobile hose shop next to our old office.)

Our new office is very accessible. There is less traffic, and we are on the second floor, set back quite far from the road. This location is much better for writing. The brand new 2-storey building is surrounded with trees and tall grass. We like our warm, friendly neighbors who work at the salon next door. The tile flooring is quite shiny and the walls are painted white. We have a land line phone and a faster Internet connection. Overall, the new office is a great place to work in.

For me, every day is a new beginning, a new challenge, a new adventure. Spending the day working in an inviting, comfortable office is rewarding.

The Saiff Solutions family is stronger than ever!

See our new office!

– Gaile

Check Out Our New Office for Technical Writing In the Philippines!

Jul 8, 2015   //   by Barry Saiff   //   Blog, Uncategorized  //  No Comments

 

Technical Writing in the Philippines Just Got Serious…

June 15, 2015 marks the day Saiff Solutions claimed its new writing pad in Tagaytay, Philippines. And we’re loving it here!

As part of a shared building, this office runs roughly 33 square meters and provides just what we need to deliver technical writing in the Philippines. See what our Technical Writer Gaile thinks of our new office.

This think tank allows our talented content development team to deliver the best value in technical writing for our clients. And we’re excited at filling our office with more global talent, as we are expanding!

Have a look at our office in the pictures below:


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As you can see, we are still organizing things and settling in. Meet the Board of Directors.

Global Content Collaboration: Making it Work

Jun 9, 2015   //   by Barry Saiff   //   Blog, Content Strategy, How-To, Managing Technical Writers, Outsourcing, Reference Articles  //  No Comments

How widely dispersed, geographically speaking, is your content development team? Or, are you currently in one location and considering expanding to another?

Implementing a global content collaboration strategy can be a rewarding investment. Making it work begins with understanding these key success factors

  1. What Country?

Which country best fits your needs? Consider these factors to start:

  • Cost and availability of skilled labor
  • Language
  • Infrastructure – electricity, Internet, transportation

In considering countries, don’t leave out the Philippines –  the #1 rated country for business English.

  1. Ensuring Success and Quality via Project Management and Editing

Let’s face it, splitting your content development across countries, if not managed properly, can multiply your problems instead of reducing them. You need competent project management, in each location, to effectively facilitate global collaboration. The pitfalls of no project management include misunderstood instructions, missed deadlines, and poor quality work.

Editing, for grammar and substance, is a crucial part of quality control. A lack of editing is the chief culprit in many failed projects.

To prevent misunderstandings and build rapport, qualified editors should work in the same physical location as writers. Working with a writer in-house can accelerate progress dramatically, especially if English is not the writer’s first language. Body language, eye contact, visual cues — all of these support effective communication.

A less desirable option is to use local editors to work remotely with offshore writers. This is far better than not having any editing at all.

  1. Choosing a Low-risk, High Reward Pilot Project

For your first project, choose something that has clear scope, goals, and instructions.

Updating existing documentation, reworking documentation for a new platform, converting files to new formats — all of these can make good initial projects. By choosing a simpler project, you can minimize the number of variables, and better determine what is and is not working.

  1. Managing Risks

Act on these risks early to mitigate future mishaps.

  • Meetings Across Time Zones

While business needs sometimes dictate odd hours, allowing people to work reasonably normal hours most of the time has great rewards. Many projects only require odd hours for regular meetings.

Some of the things to consider when scheduling meeting times and work hours are:

– Availability of transportation: In many places, no transportation is available between the hours of 10 pm and 5 am, for example.

– Health: Night shifts are not for everyone, and may not be healthy for anyone on a long-term basis.

– Opportunity: Time zone differences may allow you to get more work done in each 24-hour period.

  • Work with Multiple Communication Styles

The keys to successfully working across cultures are awareness, relationships, and inclusion.

A lack of cultural awareness can cause many problems. For example, in some cultures, “Yes” doesn’t always mean “Yes.” Quick conversations that lack substance can lead to misunderstandings that surface later, after damage is already done.

Ask questions, frequently. Clarify everything. Surrender the idea that your culture is better or more effective – there is no cheese down that road.

Effective communication occurs within effective relationships that are based on inclusion. Diverse communication channels can help build a strong, collaborative, multinational team. Include multiple avenues for connection and learning, for example:

  • Shared wiki sites/intranets
  • One-on-one meetings via videoconference or phone
  • Group email lists
  • File storage/sharing sites
  • Occasional conferences with the entire project team or subgroups

Global content collaboration can be an enriching experience for all involved. Faster turnaround, lower budgets, and higher quality are all possible.

Are you considering outsourcing content development? Saiff Solutions, Inc. can help you develop a strategy to succeed. Contact us if you’d like to talk: barrysaiff@saiffsolutions.com

We have a free offer until July 7, 2015.

Welcome, New Year!

Saiff Solutions, Inc. wishes all of our followers and supporters a Happy New Year and a prosperous and joyous 2015!

Once again we are sharing with you our year end/year start questions. Use them as you see fit, to empower yourself, your organizations, and your loved ones.

Questions and Answers – 2014/2015

1. What did you accomplish in 2014 that you want to be acknowledged for?

1a. How well did you perform on your intentions and promises for 2014?
Question 5 – completion steps
Question 6 – vision for the year
Question 7 – Intentions to learn
Question 9 – greatest challenges
Question B – Promises for 2014

2. What did you learn in 2014? (LESSONS LEARNED)

3. What did you fail to accomplish in 2014?

4. What is still incomplete for you? Consider your answers above, as well as people, events, or situations that you may be incomplete with.

5. Are you willing to let it go? If not what do you need to do in order to get complete? By when will you do that?

6. What is your vision for 12/31/15? Name at least 3 things.

7. What do you intend to learn in 2015?

8. What are you grateful for?

9. What is your greatest challenge?

10. What support do you need?

Optional bonus questions:
A. Fill in the blanks: I am willing to give up _______________ in order to have _________

B. What are you willing to promise for 2015?

C. What requests do you need to make to get started on fulfilling your promises and your vision?

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Saiff Solutions In The Media

- TechWhirl
- Nominated for 2015 Rice Bowl Asean Start Up

Click image to enlarge

Testimonials

“Barry [Saiff] truly is a force of nature – he is a consummate professional with deep technical expertise when it comes to technical writing which lets him just “get it” right out of the box. Barry pairs very strong writing skills with the ability to easily speak both “business analyst” and “software engineer” in the same meeting. Barry was the lead information developer for my product at Symantec, and I had the utmost confidence in his abilities and work ethic. On top of all that, Barry has a wonderful sense of humor and an infectious laugh that can transform the work environment in an instance. I strongly endorse Barry’s many talents and would welcome working with him again in the future.”

Angelos Kottas
Principal Product Manager, Symantec
December 17, 2010

Read more testimonials here.