TCUK17 Speaker Stefan Gentz – The Convergence of Marketing and Technical Communication, an Adobe case study

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Stefan Gentz, from sponsor Adobe, will be presenting a case study at TCUK17 on “The Convergence of Marketing and Technical Communication”.

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Content consumption patterns have dramatically changed over the last decade. The maximum selective sustained attention span of a human being is about 20 minutes. Latest research shows that the transient attention span of human beings has even gone down from 12 to 8 seconds over the last decade.

To communicate technical content in the future successfully, we need to move from drops to drips, improve findability and searchability and tailor content to the content consumer’s role and context automatically. It’s time to talk about new customer experiences and new customer journeys.
In this session, Stefan Gentz, Worldwide TechComm Evangelist for Adobe, will discuss the communication of technical content and how it’s becoming increasingly important to understand technical communication as marketing communication. The ability to blend marketing content and technical content into a unified customer experience becomes key to success. The foundation for this is dynamic, intelligent content that enables personalization and multichannel content delivery to communicate with customers in all possible ways.

About Stefan Gentz

As the Worldwide Evangelist for Technical Communication at Adobe, Stefan’s mission is to inspire enterprises and technical writers around the world and show how to create compelling technical communication content with the Adobe TCS tools.

Stefan is also a certified Quality Management Professional (TÜV), ISO 9001 / EN 15038 auditor, ISO 31000 Risk Management expert and Six Sigma Champion.
Stefan is a popular keynote speaker and moderator at conferences such as tekom, tcworld, Information Energy, Intelligent Content Conference, Congility, LocWorld, TCUK, STC, GALA, ELIA, TTT, Translation Forum Russia and many others. He is also a member of the Conference Advisory Board of the world’s biggest TechComm event, the tekom / tcworld Conferences and member of the iiRDS working group for Intelligent Information. He is also an active social networker on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

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TCUK17 Speaker Jörg Plöger – Give your content wings – How to improve your documentation skills, a SCHEMA case study

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Jörg Plöger, from sponsor SCHEMA, will be presenting a case study at TCUK17 on “Give your content wings – How to improve your documentation skills”.

Photo of Jörg Plöger

At the latest when your machine is ready before the accompanying documentation, or when your software is two versions ahead of the software help release, it is time to look into your editing solution. You have probably already noticed that the number of releases and formats is constantly growing, and that publication cycles are becoming shorter. With this case study, we would like to give you a few helpful tips and best practices to improve your way of working with information. In short, it is about the question: “What to consider when creating and managing information to make it future proof?”

About Jörg Plöger

Jörg Plöger studied mathematics. He has worked in technical communication in a wide variety of industries for more than 20 years. As consultant and trainer, he has travelled around Europe many times. Since 2000, Jörg Plöger has been working in the software industry (Translation Memory Systems (TMS) and Content Management Systems (CMS)). He is sales representative of SCHEMA and based in Bremen, Northern Germany.

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TCUK17 Speaker Yuri Kolber – Best Practices of Documentation Migration Projects, an OTC Case Study

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Yuri Kolber, from sponsor OnTarget Communications, will be presenting a case study at TCUK17 on “Best Practices of Documentation Migration Projects”.

Photo of Eran (Yuri) Kolber
Logo for OnTarget Communications

The case study examines the learnings, both positive and negative, from two migration projects (both for customers with global audiences). In both cases the customers were looking to move documentation to a collaborative platform, that would enable value delivery through version control, effective re-use of content, and efficient distribution of documentation. Due to the different requirements and audiences, the solutions selected for the customers were substantially different technically (from a toolset perspective), but both delivered the desired results. The session will provide guidelines for ensuring that migrating documentation to new platforms and toolsets, is as painless as possible.

About Eran (Yuri) Kolber

Eran (Yuri) Kolber is the Director of Training and Professional Services for OnTarget Communications. As part of his duties, he assists customers world-wide with Training Needs Analysis, Training Delivery, Content Creation and Management, Migration Project Planning and Execution, Knowledge Transfers, and extracting the maximum business value from technology, in the age of the Cloud and Mobility.

Yuri served as a Platform Evangelist for Microsoft for many years, and has assisted global consulting organizations, such as Holden International, to plan and roll-out content management and training programs for their customers.

He also leads OnTarget’s Internship program, which helps entrants into the industry obtain the required experience.

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TCUK 2017 Sponsor – OnTarget Communications

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OnTarget Communications

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OnTarget Communications was formed in 2001 to provide a refreshingly different approach to documentation, placements, and training. We provide a wide range of content services to meet the needs of organizations in the hi-tech, telecom, bio-tech, military, security, banking, insurance, medical, education and other professional fields. Using a specialized team of professionals, with extensive experience covering a wide variety of fields, we provide a 24×7 service level for those highly-demanding and tight deadline jobs, world-wide (UK, Europe, Middle East, Asia-Pacific, USA). In the modern world of collaborative authoring and content management, we find that geographical location has become nearly irrelevant.

OnTarget is focused on helping customers obtain the maximum business value from content and documentation, and from the people involved in the process (be they customer employees, contractors, or consultants). We ensure value by providing the appropriate service in the most cost-effective manner.

Amongst the services we offer are: Technical and Marketing Authoring, Translation and Localization, Document Project Outsourcing, Placement Solutions (permanent, contract, and project), Instructional Design, Training Delivery, Content Development and Management Solutions, UI/UX Reviews, Technical Author Trainings and Apprenticeships.

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TCUK 2017 Sponsor – TWi

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TWi is a leading technical writing and information design service provider, based in Ireland. We partner with clients who require scalable and fully managed documentation solutions to meet their changing needs. We work mainly with multinational clients in the Software, Fintech, Utilities, Engineering, and Pharma/MedTech industries. Thanks to technology and Ireland’s time zone, we’ve worked with teams around the globe.

Clients avail of our technical communication expertise and knowledge of documentation best practices, tools, and strategies to create deliverables fit to accompany their innovative creations. Typical deliverables include SOPs, technical guides, user manuals, online help, training resources, and white papers.

Partner with us to turn your documentation into an asset by:

  • Enhancing knowledge transfer
  • Promoting usability, customer safety, and user satisfaction
  • Generating increased sales
  • Growing internal capacity to meet future documentation needs
  • Supporting legal, quality, and regulatory compliance
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TCUK 2017 Sponsor – Adobe

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Adobe logo with link to the Adobe website for one Adobe solution for technical content

Adobe has revolutionized how the world engages with ideas and information. Our award-winning software and technologies have set the gold standard in communication and collaboration for more than 30 years. Adobe’s Technical Communication group delivers best-in-class tools, systems and services that help businesses streamline content workflows end-to-end. With our cutting-edge solutions, teams can effortlessly collaborate on the creation of ground-breaking content, manage and reuse assets efficiently, and seamlessly publish it across multiple channels and devices. Published content can be tailored to audiences, increasing relevance and consumption. All this, and more, while offering the highest return on investment.

With the convergence of marketing and technical content across enterprises – Adobe’s new-age solutions will empower your organization to create valuable experiences that build your brands, drive demand, and extend the reach and ROI of customer-facing content, pre-sale and post-sale.

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TCUK 2017 Sponsor – 3di

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3di Information Solutions Ltd.

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“Complexity made clear”

3di has delivered technical communication and localization services to global companies, government organisations, and technology and software businesses since 2002. Our in-house team is based near Guildford and in Kraków. Quite a few of us are attending TCUK as delegates.

Our customers and suppliers love working with us and keep coming back. The people we work with day-to-day like our friendly and reliable approach and our focus on quality — we don’t let them down. The people who pay the bills like our competitive rates and our focus on efficient processes — we save them money.

Visit our stand at TCUK to:

  • discuss your work and the challenges you face
  • brief us about projects you have coming up
  • tell us about your availability to work with us and our customers

For more information visit our website www.3di-info.com.

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TCUK 2017 Sponsor – SCHEMA

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SCHEMA logo

The SCHEMA Group develops and markets high-performance solutions for information logistics. Founded in 1995, the company employs over 110 people at its headquarters and development site in Nuremberg, Germany. Relied upon by over 500 customers, the SCHEMA ST4 Component Content Management System (CCMS) and the SCHEMA CDS Content Delivery Server number among the most widely used systems for a modular approach to technical writing and documentation. The SCHEMA ST4 Component Content Management System and the SCHEMA CDS Content Delivery Server cater to all functions relating to the creation, versioning, variant control, translation, quality assurance, publication and distribution of product information – from service information on a mobile device to the final layout for a print catalogue. SCHEMA ST4 is a flexible system that can be scaled to suit the needs of small authoring teams up to entire companies. It is also available as a standard version or as a client-specific solution. SCHEMA CDS distributes information while providing its immediate availability. The SCHEMA Group’s solutions are suitable for a broad range of applications. They are deployed in a wide variety of sectors including mechanical and plant engineering, automotive, IT, electronics, medical technology and the pharmaceutical industry. Clients such as ABB, Agilent, Andritz, Bayer, Bentley, Boehringer Ingelheim, Bombardier, Bosch, Bundesanzeiger Federal Gazette, Carl Zeiss, Caterpillar, Daimler, Datev, Doppelmayr, General Electric, KSB, MAN, Miele, Austrian Federal Railways, Philips, Porsche, Roche, Schaeffler Group, SEW Eurodrive, Siemens, SMA, Toyota, TüV, Voith, Weleda, Wincor Nixdorf and many more rely on systems from SCHEMA.

SCHEMA. Complex documents made easy. www.schema.de

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TCUK 2017 Sponsor – kothes GmbH

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kothes GmbH is a leading specialist service provider for technical documentation and CE marking.

kothes GmbH was founded in 2003 and now employs a good 100 people, about 70 of them technical editors. Offices in Kempen, Bremen, Berlin and Stuttgart as well as in Kloten near Zürich (kothes Schweiz GmbH) guarantee fast reaction times for our customers in the entire German-speaking area. Our customers include more than 1,000 manufacturers, operators and importers of technical products, from family companies to global corporations.

We stand for cooperation models where consultation and services are combined in such a way that your employees and our employees collaborate at the optimum level.

www.kothes.de

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TCUK 2017 Sponsor – Imprimatur

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Imprimatur is a leader in implementing technology to improve the document creation and management process, offering guidance, training and consultancy to enable our customers to become more efficient.

As part of its strategy to work with the best documentation technologies, Imprimatur is SCHEMA’s sole UK partner, offering sales, support and consultancy to enable customers to implement the SCHEMA ST4 CCMS.

Imprimatur is a specialist language and technology company, providing services to both technical and marketing teams of large companies operating in global markets.

Imprimatur offers languages services – from machine translation right through to copy writing – to enable its customers to be clearly understood in their target markets. By using the latest and most powerful translation management systems, Imprimatur produces high quality translations whilst delivering to the tightest of deadlines.

www.imprimatur.co.uk

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TCUK 2017 Sponsor – MadCap Software

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MadCap software logo

MadCap Software is a trusted resource for thousands of companies around the globe for single-source, multi-channel authoring and publishing solutions, including multimedia and translation management. Our products are used to create corporate intranets, online Help systems, policy & procedure manuals, video tutorials, knowledge bases, ebooks, user guides and more. Our services include product training, consulting services, translation and localization and an advanced developer certification program.

www.madcapsoftware.com

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What are your top three technical writing tools?

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Earlier this year, Ferry Vermeulen asked speakers at conferences earlier this year what they consider their top three tools of choice for their technical communication needs. He received over 70 responses which he published in “Technical Writing Tools: The Ultimate Expert Choice” on his blog.

Many of the responses are perfect for this year’s conference theme: From Novice to Expert – Writing Your Career Path as a Technical Communicator. Dive into the article for inspiration!

  • Find out who feels that a certain tool is like a map of her brain (or at least, if she were Data from Star Trek).
  • Learn how many are using Github and why.
  • Discover who considers “talent” a tool!

If Ferry had contacted you, what would you say to him? You can add your thoughts in the comments at “Technical Writing Tools: The Ultimate Expert Choice”.

You can also continue the discussion at the TCUK conference or on Twitter (and include @TCUK_Conf or the hashtag #TCUK16).

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From Novice to Expert – Writing Your Career Path as a Technical Communicator

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Anjali Gupta works as a Technical Writing Consultant with Adobe Systems, the Diamond Sponsor for TCUK16. She is smitten by Adobe products (especially FrameMaker and RoboHelp) and plans to learn and teach some great, new workflows to users. She loves to explore new communication styles and media. Anjali has written an article for us where she shares her thoughts on the 2016 conference theme.

From Novice to Expert – Writing Your Career Path as a Technical Communicator

It is one of those Monday mornings, when I am rushing to the office, skipping breakfast again. First thing that I want to do, after I reach the office, is to sip 2-3 cups of coffee and get rid of the usual Monday sickness. An email from my boss is the last thing that I am expecting to see on my smartphone screen. And Beep. It’s an email from my boss.

Hi Anjali, the Online Help looks great. Thanks for such a quick turnaround. It’s a pleasure to have an expert like you in the team.

I have been working through weekends to complete a crucial delivery. And this totally makes my day. A wide smile covers my face while I start for office. I remember the days when I had just started off in the field of technical communications and with the little experience that I had at that time, I was someone who was nervous and not very confident about my skills.

Being a Technical Communicator requires you to be quick with learning tools and technologies, determining what users need, and helping users accomplish their tasks with the various types of content you create. The communication needs to be precise as well as engaging.

At this point, when I sit down introspecting, I feel that I could have done a few things better. So if you think you are a novice in this field and want to plan your career path to be an expert technical communicator, imbibe these quick tips:

  • Understand that technical communication is more than just technical writing.
    I agree that these two terms are closely connected. But, as the world around you evolves, you will see that newer communication media and changing user preferences will open up opportunities for you to communicate in many ways, not just through writing conventional user guides and help manuals. So explore a variety of writing styles and methodologies and embrace new media.
  • Be patient. In fact, be very patient.
    Your first write-up will be rejected, your following write-ups will be heavily edited, and your first appreciation mail will not come easily. But you will have to be patient to excel. It’s okay to make mistakes, but it’s crucial to learn from them. Actually, this is how a writer grows: Write > Revise > Enhance. Remember, smart and steady will win the race here.
  • Keep up the investigative skills. Ask a lot of questions.
    Do not worry, if in a product demo, you ask something that leaves someone in the room amused. If you have done your user analysis, do not hesitate to play the user. Keep your probing skills sharp. It won’t take long for people to notice that somebody in the room has understood the product and the user community really well.
  • Keep sharpening your technical skills. Bridge the demand and supply gap.
    Gone are the days when writers used to work around with basic word processors. Today, as users want to see content in various formats, like interactive How-to videos, mobile and search-friendly articles, you as a technical communicator will have to match up to those requirements. Be well-read and flexible so that you can use both technology and skills to produce user delighting content.
  • Be collaborative and grounded.
    Collaborate well with your team and stakeholders. Be grounded and professional when it is about giving and accepting suggestions. Do not take reviews personally. They are done to improve the document. However, if you also choose to improve with each of the reviews (which is highly advisable), you will realize that success will be closer.
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The Novice Technical Communicator – Where does my journey begin

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This is the first in a series of articles based on our 2016 theme for TCUK: “From Novice to Expert – Writing Your Career Path as a Technical Communicator”.

Fountain pen and ink bottle resting on an open blank notebook with 2 closed pens lying next to the notebook

For a person entering the world of technical communication, this world may seem exciting and yet daunting. The role of a technical communicator is constantly evolving with the changes in technology and constantly presenting new challenges.

There are many avenues to be travelled upon – for example, you can choose writing, editing, illustration, designing or publishing. Regardless of the avenue you choose as a technical communicator, you need to be able to understand complex (technical) information and convey this to your audience in a meaningful and appropriate way.

On the job, you would work with a range of specialists – designers, engineers, technicians, marketers, product developers and publishers. You would need excellent communication skills to be able to deal with different types of personalities and extract the information you need from them.

The career opportunities in the field of technical communication are plenty. At this point, you will be asking yourself, where do I begin my journey as a technical communicator?

Here’s our take on how you can kickstart your career in technical communication.

What does technical communication involve?

Typically, technical communication involves creating documentation for technical processes, software programs and systems.

You could produce end-user content – from the user’s perspective – that provides useful information on the product functionality and usability, which helps to solve the user’s problem, answer their questions and meet their needs.

Your everyday work could involve creating new documents, updating or rewriting existing documentation, performing user research and presenting the information in the most appropriate manner. You could commission or illustrate photographs and diagrams, test materials and work with digital platforms for delivering and publishing content.

Other types of documents you could create include:

  • articles, case studies and white papers
  • educational content
  • product manuals and specifications
  • policies and procedures / standard operating procedures
  • API documentation
  • how-to guides
  • blog posts

The field of technical communication is moving beyond merely authoring classic documentation. Documenting what developers do is a growing area. Straddling the field of user experience while keeping one foot in technical communication is a popular choice. Technical communicators are expected to understand and utilise a variety of software programs, tools, methods and digital platforms that aid content creation.

Which industries need technical communicators?

You will make careful considerations about the industry you want to work in as a technical communicator.

Before you choose the industry you want to work in, firstly, decide what you want to write about and try to follow your passion.

There are many industries that require the skills of a technical communicator, such as:

  • aerospace, defence and manufacturing
  • architectural structure and engineering
  • digital technology
  • educational services
  • government agencies and organisations
  • information technology
  • telecommunications
  • scientific research labs
  • publishing agencies

Use the internet (or any available resources!) to research which local industries are recruiting technical communicators – you can widen or narrow your search based on your results.

Professional mentors and training

The most difficult part of embarking on a career is breaking into the field. We have highlighted a few steps to guide you.

Step one: Research the company you want to work for

Use online and offline resources to find out what you can about the company you would like to work for.

  • Website – Most companies have a website – a shop window – which gives you an insight into the company history, present and future. Use the website to understand what the company does. Learn about the company products – even write your own (product) article based on the information you have so far.
    Download (free) resources such as case studies and white papers to give you an idea of the type of content that is being written and the level of skills required to produce that type of content.
    Make note of the things you think you can improve on as you navigate the website. If asked at a later stage to share your thoughts, then you refer to these notes.
  • Social Media – Take a look at the social media channels the company uses to promote their brand and products. This will give you an insight into the way in which the company engages and interacts with its customers and audiences online.
  • Publications – Take a look at trade magazines or other publications where the company contributes content to or is featured in.
  • Contacts – Make a note of the persons responsible for producing technical content. You will find contact information such as an email address or social media profile available on the ‘Contact Us’ page of the company site. Always use the preferred method of contact when reaching out.

Step Two: Make contact and get a mentor

In step one, you collected a list of contacts you can approach.

Start off by introducing yourself and let them know who you are and what you are looking for. You could send them a copy of the article you wrote or other pieces of content that showcase your skills to generate interest.

This would give them an opportunity to learn something about you. If they are interested in your work, they will contact you and request you to either contribute to a project that suits your skills or guide you through the hiring process for a role at the company.

You may have to contact several technical communicators before you receive a response. But it’s worth your time – in the end you may just land your first role as a technical communicator.

Entering the field of technical communication is challenging, but there are professionals out there who can mentor and guide young professionals looking for a break.

Step Three: Memberships and Training

Become a member of a recognised technical communication organisation or institute.

This is a great way to meet professional technical communicators, join groups, attend events and find mentors and more contacts.

Many memberships offer discounted events, courses and workshops for you to attend.

The Institute of Scientific and Technical Communicators is the largest (non-profit) body in the UK that represents the technical communication profession. The ISTC offers a range of professional communities, events and courses for its members. The ISTC has a mentoring programme.

Becoming a member of a professional organisation shows that you are proactive and curious about your field.

Here is a list of technical communication organisations you can consider joining:

Write your Tech Comm CV

Writing a CV for any profession is a tough task.

Being new in the field could mean that you may not have much experience. Use your CV as an opportunity to showcase your skill set and any relevant experience. For example:

  • Experience – If you have graduated from university – write a brief paragraph about a piece of course work you produced. Include skills that would be relevant to the role you will apply for – research, information gathering, use of imagery, and writing style used to produce course work.
    If you have your own blog or have written any articles or product reviews, then reference those in your CV. This could act as a portfolio of your work.
    If you were employed whilst you were a student then include your dates of employment and a brief sentence about your role.
  • Skills – List the software packages, methods and tools you used to produce your work with.

From writing the CV to choosing the right format for the content is perhaps the biggest hurdle. Take a look at these sample technical writing CVs to get an idea of how the CV should be formatted, and begin writing the content.

Your CV should read easily and follow a simple format as follows:

  • Top of CV – Name, address, contact details and social media profile – include a link to LinkedIn profile. Brief tag line of objective.
  • Body of CV – Work experiences till date – professional or voluntary. A list of skills, qualifications, certificates, and link to portfolio (if works are available online).
  • End of CV – Education.

The clarity of your CV should indicate the clarity you will bring to the job!

The cover letter for your CV should address the requirements posted in the job advertisement. If you are submitting an unsolicited CV, your cover letter should reflect the insights you gathered in step one.

Build your network online or offline

When building a new career, how you network with other professionals is key in the progression of your career.

There are many technical communication leaders and experts out there that you can connect with on social media or even meet at events. You can follow them for regular updates and even post a message to them when you see something of interest from them in your personal feed.

The internet is a fascinating way to connect with people. Set up your own professional social media profile on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn and share your thoughts on the industry, join groups or communities and participate in discussions with other professionals.

Keep in touch with the people you meet along the way. You never know when an opportunity may arise and you could be contacted – because you took the time to connect with them.

Our next article will focus on the Expert Technical Communicator.

Written by: Vee Modha
Contribution by: Karen Mardahl

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