SCHEMA – Platinum Sponsor Interview, Jörg Plöger

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Jörg Plöger – SCHEMA Consulting GmbH, Sales Manager (Northern Europe)

Jörg Plöger

TCUK: Thank you for returning to sponsor us at TCUK16. Tell us about what motivated you to join us again?

JP: The industrial sector (secondary sector) generates 57% of the United Kingdom’s exports (approx. 11.5% of which go to Germany). The IT and software sector also plays a vital role in that regard. With globalisation and the rise of the Internet of Things, technical communication is playing an increasingly important role in industry. Buzz words such as Mobile Documentation, Big Data, Omni Channel, Content Marketing and Knowledge Management are increasingly influencing the everyday work of the Technical Communicator.

We are proud to be a sponsor of the TCUK event again this year, as this environment offers potential for the use of standardised and cost-effective solutions for content management.

In our opinion, TCUK attendees represent a cross-section of people with a variety of knowledge and experience – from novices to experts. They are open-minded, practical, goal-oriented and are seeking the best and most effective way to achieve those goals.

TCUK provides an efficient platform for exchanging information and obtaining information on trends, technologies and standards. The direct interaction with experts and colleagues from all sectors and different countries also offers added value.

TCUK: This year the TCUK event special focus is ‘From Novice to Expert – Writing Your Career Path as a Technical Communicator’. Are there any relevant trends in technical communication that apply to both novice and experienced communicators?

JP: I began as a novice in 1986, when I took over the management of a service company for technical communication with 20 employees. There were no PCs and we only had a limited amount of information and knowledge in the field of “technical documentation”. Many things could only be self-taught. Texts were typed using typewriters and mounted on a light table.

In the late 1980s, we purchased our first PC in the form of the 486 with a DOS operating system. It was on this PC that we gained our first experiences of Word, Ventura and a simple CAD program. We progressed to working with FrameMaker, Interleaf and Intergraph on a Unix workstation.

In the mid-1990s, we then used one of the first Translation Memory systems, Trados, for translation and we created SGML Data Modules for the S1000D standard. We also developed customer-specific semantic XML DTDs.

Since 2004, I have been working at SCHEMA, the German manufacturer of the Component Content Management System ST4 – a leading standard solution for creating, managing, publishing and distributing multilingual product information.

The backdrop to the various stages of my career was the search for simpler solutions for the complex and rapidly growing demands for product information. Reducing this complexity is still the challenge we face today. The responses from over 400 of our customers worldwide highlight the trends that mark our overall approach:

  • Content modularisation and enrichment with metadata
  • Content reuse (variables, metadata, terminology, sentences, images, fragments, topics, structures…)
  • Variant management with automatic configuration of deliverables
  • Multi-language support
  • Simple production for multi-media publishing
  • User-friendly and flexible out-of-the-box solutions

TCUK: As an experienced sponsor, what words of advice do you have to encourage technical communicators to attend this year’s conference?

JP: I believe that TCUK has once again succeeded in creating a programme with a colourful array of informative workshops and presentations. What’s more, leading service providers and systems providers will once again be attending in order to exhibit their products. That makes it a good opportunity to bring together information and knowledge regarding customers’ requirements and framework conditions and learn collectively. The potential applications and types of process support available are also equally diverse. In short: TCUK is offering precisely the right mix that will enable technical communicators to view, take in and immerse themselves in the very latest developments.

TCUK: The TCUK conference moves to a new location each year. This year, TCUK is hosted in Bedfordshire, England. What are you looking forward to most at this year’s conference?

JP: The industrial sector in the United Kingdom offers a well-trained workforce, a high domestic demand and forms an integral part of the European domestic market. It is supported by a solid scientific base, as well as a highly developed capital market. These are the strengths that it calls upon in order to improve the prospects of the future generations in industrial centres such as Manchester, Coventry and Birmingham and to ensure that the UK economy can compete on an international level once more. It is now a case of identifying innovative, highly technical niches, which can draw from the rich pool of talent that is available in British centres of learning. Bedfordshire is conveniently situated between London and Birmingham, the East Midlands and the West Midlands. We are looking forward to meeting local Technical Communicators, seeing their challenges, answering their questions and exchanging information.

See you in Bedfordshire!

About SCHEMA

SCHEMA Group was founded in 1995 in Nürnberg and today has around 100 employees. SCHEMA ST4 is an XML-based editing and content management system, offering extensive features for all aspects of the creation, management, translation, quality management, publication and distribution of product information of any kind. SCHEMA ST4’s scalability makes it suitable for small editing teams as well as for company-wide solutions for information logistics. SCHEMA ST4 can be used as a standard product or a customer-specific solution. With the SCHEMA Content Delivery Server, information can be distributed intelligently to all common platforms, independently of SCHEMA ST4.

PleaseTech – Bronze Sponsor Interview, James Wilding

James Wilding – PleaseTech Ltd. Account Manager

James Wilding
James Wilding

TCUK: Thank you for becoming a TCUK16 sponsor. Tell us about what motivated you to join us?

JW: We need to tell you a bit about us to explain why we joined TCUK as a sponsor…so here comes the PR!

PleaseTech is a technology company specialising in collaborative document co-authoring and review software. Our flagship product, PleaseReview, is a proven collaborative review and co-authoring solution for Microsoft Word and other document types including source code. It facilitates controlled, simultaneous and secure collaboration for the review and editing of documents.

Whilst document review and co-authoring is recognised as a critical business issue which consumes considerable resources across the organisation, the basic problem remains: if you have a Microsoft Word document (or Excel, PDF, etc.) and need several people to review it, how do you do that in an efficient and controlled way? This is where PleaseReview adds value: it offers control, management and metrics to the review, accommodates both online and offline reviewers (supporting a mobile workforce) and enables secure collaboration with external partners.

In addition to defence contractors, the military and government, PleaseReview is used by 75% of the world’s top 25 pharmaceutical companies, where bringing products to market is a huge endeavour. In this environment, medical writers have to collaboratively edit and review complex documents generated for clinical trials, quality assurance and regulatory submissions. This often requires contributions from area authors and subject matter experts both internal and external to an organisation.

Whilst technical writers are required to work with applications including HTML and XML editors, there are many documents such as user manuals, specifications, guides, contracts and proposals which are created, updated and reviewed in Microsoft Word and PDF. Joining TCUK seems to be a natural fit.

TCUK: This year the TCUK event special focus is ‘From Novice to Expert – Writing Your Career Path as a Technical Communicator’. Are there any relevant trends in technical communication that apply to both novice and experienced communicators?

JW: When there are many people involved in the review of documents, including experts outside of an organisation as well as different teams internally, this process can be frustratingly slow. Without a proper business process in place, documents distributed via email for review result in hundreds of often conflicting changes, all of which need to be amalgamated into a master copy – just imagine trying to do that using cut and paste! Furthermore, if tracked changes have been used by several participants on a review, it’s almost impossible to see who has commented on what, and why. All this leads to a frustrated team, as well as delayed and inaccurate documents if important changes have been missed.

Consequently, we’re beginning to see a move towards more effective collaboration, with technical writers looking to make the document review and co-authoring process more efficient and transparent. Whereas a few years ago there was a gentle hum of conversation around the topic, there’s now a much louder dialogue going on, as has been seen amongst the analyst, IT and business community.

With increasing regulation and higher compliance standards, reporting and audit trails are also key, detailing what has been changed in a document, by whom, when and why.

TCUK: As a sponsor, what words of advice do you have to encourage technical communicators to attend this year’s conference?

JW: Go and talk to the exhibitors! We regularly exhibit in the US where conference attendees make it a part of their conference experience to talk to the exhibitors and find out what products are on the market. We’re not just saying this so you’ll come and talk to us (although please do!), there are some really great tools out there that can genuinely improve the way you work.

TCUK: The TCUK conference moves to a new location each year. This year, TCUK is hosted in Bedfordshire, England. What are you looking forward to most at this year’s conference?

JW: We’re really looking forward to being able to talk to delegates to better understand how technical writers approach document review, and the challenges they face, both on a day to day basis, and from an industry perspective.

About PleaseTech

PleaseTech has satisfied customers ranging from small consultancies to global organisations from multiple business sectors including Life Sciences, Defence, IT, Utilities and Government and across disciplines such as regulatory, proposals, software engineering, marketing, contract management, QA and more.

For more information come and see us in the exhibition area, contact us at info@pleasetech.com or visit our website www.pleasetech.com.

PleaseTech logo

3di – Silver Sponsor Interview, Paul Ballard

Paul Ballard – 3di, Managing Director

Paul Ballard

TCUK: Thank you for returning to sponsor us at TCUK16. Tell us about what motivated you to join us again?

PB: What else would we be doing this time of year? TCUK has always been a crucial part of our efforts to remind technical communicators that we still care a great deal about what’s going on in the profession, and what’s going on in the industries we all work for. In the context of this year, we are looking forward to sharing some of the recent exciting 3di developments: the opening of our office in Krakow, the continued growth of our in-house UK technical authoring team, and the delivery of a major multi-lingual project for Vodafone. As always, we are on the look-out for interesting stories of how people have solved problems, potential new team members, and potential new customers.

TCUK: This year the TCUK event special focus is ‘From Novice to Expert – Writing Your Career Path as a Technical Communicator’. Are there any relevant trends in technical communication that apply to both novice and experienced communicators?

PB: One of the hardest challenges for experienced technical communicators is being able to adapt in response to whatever new requirements or expectations might well be influencing their work. One of the hardest challenges for new technical communicators is working out what their specialism might be. One of the challenges they have in common is the increasing need (though certainly not new) to communicate their value in terms that make sense to their employer. In some cases it means changing what they do or how they do it so that the value is easier to understand. At 3di we have to justify the value of our services every day so it’s something we have honed to a fine art!

TCUK: As an experienced sponsor – what words of advice do you have to encourage technical communicators to attend this year’s conference?

PB: Stop thinking about it and book! It’ll be your (or your boss’s) best investment this year. The reliable quality of the TCUK content is only part of it. Read the “Convince your boss” letter template on the TCUK website. If you don’t have a boss to convince, still read it, and get clear in your own mind what you stand to gain from attending.

TCUK: The TCUK conference moves to a new location each year. This year, TCUK is hosted in Bedfordshire, England. What are you looking forward to most at this year’s conference?

PB: If you are asking me to describe the delights of Wyboston Lakes, then I’m going to struggle… it’s not far from Cambridge, which is lovely in September. It’s certainly a smart venue and I think the advantage of this location is how it enables the event to be outstanding value for delegates, and how its proximity to London and Cambridge will attract lots of new people – for whom this will be their first ISTC or TCUK event. And that’s where the success of TCUK as an event for delegates and for sponsors really delivers. The richness of ideas and perspectives that comes from gathering a continually refreshing group of practitioners together is what really makes TCUK work. Several of the UK and Poland 3di team members will be there. Whether they are technical authoring or localisation specialists, they will have new ideas to explore and debate, tools and technologies to investigate, potential new resources to hire, and potential new customers to impress. We can’t wait.

About 3di Information Solutions Ltd.

“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. 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.

Capita TI – Platinum Sponsor Interview, Sally Haywood

Sally Haywood – Senior Localisation Engineer, Capita TI

Sally Haywood from Capita TI

Sally Haywood has been working in the translation industry for the past 20 years. She has a degree in German and Russian and a Masters in Machine Translation.
She has worked in various positions at ITR as a Senior Project Manager, Localisation Engineer and now as a Business Development Manager for Capita TI. She specialised in the management of complex software projects, and in her role as Senior Localisation Engineer, developed new workflows and technical solutions to support the Project Management team. She has a wide-ranging knowledge of CAT (Computer Assisted Translation) tools as well as high-level skills in InDesign, FrameMaker, Captivate and DITA etc.
Sally loves to play the piano, and she sings with Ripon Choral Society. She has 3 daughters and a very playful young dog!

TCUK: We are delighted you are joining us as a first-time sponsor this year. Can you tell us what encouraged you to support us?

SH: Earlier this year, Capita Translation and Interpreting (Capita TI) acquired International Translation Resources (ITR) which brings together the expertise of both companies to provide the best solutions for our customers. You can read the full story at www.capitatranslationinterpreting.com. While ITR has sponsored and exhibited many times at TCUK, this is the first time that Capita TI will have a presence. For us, it is imperative to stay on top of industry trends in technical communication, new ideas, tools and technologies. We provide end-to-end solutions for our customers and need to embrace new technology. Whatever tools and technologies our clients are using for their source material, we also need to use in our translations in order to deliver a fully functional end product, whether that be localised websites, software apps, online help, technical documentation or eLearning.

TCUK is great in promoting new trends in technical communication and provides an excellent forum to swap and discuss ideas. It is great to have the opportunity to listen to presentations on case studies from a wide variety of industries, which always gives us food for thought.

We also welcome the opportunity of being able to make new connections and talk to technical communicators about issues they are facing; often we have experiences we can share from projects we have worked on.

TCUK: This year the TCUK event special focus is “From Novice to Expert – Writing Your Career Path as a Technical Communicator”. Are there any relevant trends in technical communication that apply to both novice and experienced communicators?

SH: It is clear that, as technical communicators, you need to embrace change and develop new skills that can define your role and help to develop your career.

Technical communicators need to promote their role within their company as they are now no longer responsible for producing the technical manual for a product, but also for eLearning, marketing material, technical support documentation and any other information that enhances a user’s experience.

We have seen a huge rise in the need for eLearning translations. Technical communicators need to embrace new technology and develop different ways of writing. ELearning often contains minimal amounts of on-screen text, and so conveying information in a very succinct way is essential. ELearning can include animation and voiceover, and technical writers may even find themselves having to author a script for the voiceover artist: a skill that is very different from authoring a technical user guide.

The need to be agile continues to dominate the authoring and translation world. Traditional waterfall methods of developing software applications can lead to delays in time to market and product release. We all know the challenges of creating agile content, but by communicating and collaborating with other stakeholders and embedding content creation as part of the process, your role as a technical writer or content creator will be promoted.

TCUK: You are joining us for the first time this year. What encouragement would you have for technical communicators to get them to join you this year?

SH: Get involved! It’s always great to be involved in any way you can with other technical communicators. Making new connections and meeting people face to face is a good way of exchanging ideas and asking questions about other people’s experiences. You can make contact with others who are facing similar challenges to you in their writing, and although you can read online about solutions to those issues, it’s invaluable to talk to others, to share your thoughts and learn from those who have been there and done that! You will learn just as much from talking to your peers as you will listening to the fantastic line-up of speakers.

Who knows….you might even win the quiz!

TCUK: The TCUK conference moves to a new location each year. This year, TCUK is hosted in Bedfordshire, England. What are you looking forward to most at this year’s conference?

SH: I think Bedfordshire is a great location for the TCUK conference. It’s central and easy to get to and Wyboston Lakes would seem to be the perfect venue.

We are looking forward to hearing more about this year’s conference theme “From Novice to Expert – Writing Your Career Path as a Technical Communicator” and to making new connections, as well as seeing old friends.