Browsing articles in "Tips for Doc and Tech Comm Managers"

Technical Writing Outsourcing: Helping Your Business Toward Success

Feb 14, 2019   //   by Josh Gatus   //   Blog, Content Strategy, Outsourcing, Tips for Doc and Tech Comm Managers  //  No Comments

blue and gold text that reads: outsourcing technical writing: a forum on a banner. Beside the text are four interlinking puzzle pieces with different symbols on them in gold: icons of people and a fountain pen nib.

In-house, outsourced, onshore, nearshore, and offshore outsourcing offers countless possibilities. How can outsourcing help? Companies have resorted to outsourcing for both foreign and domestic contracts for decades. We’ve seen this practice extensively in quality assurance and programming functions.

Technical writing outsourcing comes with a lot of risks and benefits. Many technical writers think that once their company outsources, they must lay-off existing writers, which results in reduced morale of their respective teams. Outsourcing often catches the blame as a cause of disruption, dysfunction, and organizational failure. In many cases, these negative outcomes actually result from poor management, including poor planning and managing of outsourcing.

Outsourcing, if done properly, can help your business improve both in processes and content quality. A multicultural team can give you an advantage. If managed well, it improves global responsiveness, provides quicker response times, and increases your team’s cultural understanding of your customers. Technical writing outsourcing can expand capacity at lower cost, give you a larger team, and produce higher output.

Barry Saiff, founder and CEO of Saiff Solutions, created a roadmap to outsourcing success in his book Outsourcing Technical Writing: A Primer. In this roadmap, one of the sequences involves Choosing an outsourcing partner. You want a vendor who is capable of meeting your needs, with a broad commitment to excellence. So, how will you choose a trusted partner for your documentation?

Technical Writing Outsourcing: Factors to Consider

Here are some of the factors to consider:

  1. Be careful about the country you choose – Consider factors such as language, infrastructure, economic growth, stability, and cultural fit.
  2. Get to know your vendor – Are they knowledgeable, competent, and honest? What types of quality control practices or systems do they have in place?
  3. Learn about your vendor’s approach to management – Instead of sharing your own management philosophy (which amounts to asking leading questions), ask probing questions about their attitudes.
  4. Take IT and data security very seriously – For example, ensure that their employee and consultant contracts include confidentiality clauses.
  5. Understand the vendor’s ownership and organizational structure.
  6. Ask for references or find them on your own, and be very careful about contracts.
  7. Before embarking on a large, risky project, try out the vendor in a smaller, lower risk pilot project.

Do you want to know more about the Roadmap to Outsourcing Success? Learn more about technical writing outsourcing to give your team an extra boost!

Head on over to XML Press and grab a copy of Outsourcing Technical Writing: A Primer today. You can also purchase the book on Amazon.

Achieve Inner Mastery in Managing Content Development Teams

Dec 17, 2018   //   by Barry Saiff   //   Blog, Concepts and Definitions, Content Strategy, Tips for Doc and Tech Comm Managers  //  No Comments

blue banner with a silhouette of a yellow-colored man. Next to him is blue text with the words: "Achieve Inner Mastery in Managing Content Development Teams"

CARVE your way to success! On October 21, Barry Saiff, CEO and founder of Saiff Solutions, led a workshop called Managing Content Development Teams: Inner Mastery for Outer Success at LavaCon 2018. He discussed the power of vulnerability, basic management principles, and the inner strength of a manager. The key message of the workshop is that management is a sacred trust. As a manager at any level, you have the power to build or destroy careers, achieve miracles, or destroy the enterprise. Remember that management matters.

You can use the CARVE acronym to help you in managing your team. Every letter in CARVE stands for an important trait of a manager that serves as a key to your success.

Caring

A manager cares about the enterprise, the results, the process, and the people.

Access

A good manager makes himself or herself available to lessen stress in the workplace and meets one-on-one with each team member on a regular basis.

Being Respectful

A good manager understands how to respect people. This includes having high expectations. A manager does not react. A manager creates. Understanding the difference between passion and emotion is important. Not taking out your emotions on your staff is crucial.

Vision

Without vision, management can be damaging. Everyone wants to be part of something that matters. Keeping the mission, vision, and values of the company alive is essential. Everyone is more productive when they understand the impact of their work on the enterprise. Be inspired and you will inspire others.

Expect Excellence

A good manager does not accept “I can’t,” unless the statement is factually true, based on a generous assessment of the person’s capabilities. Expectations matter. Choose them wisely.

And that’s how we CARVE our way to success.

Did you know that Saiff Solutions is a Sapphire Sponsor of LavaCon? Find out more about our content strategy adventure at the exciting 2018 event here.

Tech Comm Intrapreneurship: 5 Key Approaches Infographic

Oct 6, 2017   //   by Barry Saiff   //   Blog, Concepts and Definitions, Content Strategy, Tips for Doc and Tech Comm Managers  //  No Comments

Discover how adapting an “intrapreneurial” mindset can help you sell the value of innovative ideas, new approaches, and improvements in technology.

This infographic features 5 key approaches tech comm intrapreneurs can use to bridge the gap between tech comm teams and upper management.

Tech comm intrapreneurship 5 key approaches

 

Want to know more? Check out our webinar on this topic, here.

Recap of LavaCon Las Vegas 2016

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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

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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

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.