Gold Sponsor TCUK 2016 – Semcon

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SEMCON

The world’s most efficient car. Revolutionary tidal power. Doubling production in the same plant. Documentation in nuclear power plants.

No challenges are too difficult for us at Semcon. We are an international technology company in engineering services and product information with 3,000 dedicated and highly skilled employees, who develop the future together with our customers.

Semcon has more than 30 years of experience in its chosen industries – automotive, life science, telecommunications, energy and other development- intensive industries.

Our services include all kinds of challenges within technology development such as product development, product information, quality, training and methodology development. We find flexible ways of working tailored to our assignments and customer needs and use our global resourcing capacity.

www.semcon.com

Online booking for TCUK 2016 is now open

The online booking for TCUK 2016 is now open. TCUK 2016 is taking place at the Wyboston Lakes Executive Centre between Cambridge and Milton Keynes, from the 13th to the 15th of September.

Wyboston Lakes aerial view

Early-bird prices are available from today until 30th June, and the early-bird all-inclusive residential package is £620 for members and £770 for non-members. These prices will rise to £680 and £830 respectively from 1st July.

The early-bird price for day registrations is £180 for members and £245 for non-members, rising to £210 and £275 respectively from 1st July.

We announce programme details in the coming days and weeks, so please bookmark www.technicalcommunicationuk.com and check back often. You can also keep up with our news on Twitter, Facebook, Lanyrd, and LinkedIn.

Bronze Sponsor TCUK 2016 – PleaseTech

PleaseTech logo

PleaseTech Ltd.

PleaseTech is a technology company specializing in collaborative document co-authoring and review software.

Whilst technical writing primarily involves the use of XML-based editing tools, documentation such as articles, case studies, educational content, manuals, specification, guides, contracts, proposals and more are created, updated and reviewed in formats including Microsoft Word and PDF.

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 recognized as a critical business issue which consumes considerable resources across the organization, 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, its extensive functionality is easy to learn and use, promoting efficient team work and happier reviewers.

In an environment where greater productivity and tighter deadlines require smarter processes, PleaseReview can help reduce review cycles by up to 65%, time spent in review meetings by 60% and delivers typical savings of 35% in document production costs.

PleaseTech has satisfied customers ranging from small consultancies to global organizations from multiple business sectors including Life Sciences, Defense, 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.

The Novice Technical Communicator – Where does my journey begin

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

TCUK16 Call for Proposals deadline extended to Thursday 7th April

In response to requests we’ve received, the deadline for the Call for Proposals has been extended to Thursday 7th April 2016.

This year’s special focus is From Novice to Expert – Writing Your Career Path as a Technical Communicator.

We also welcome proposals on any topic that you feel will be of interest to technical communication professionals. Delegates at previous conferences have expressed interest in presentations on a wide variety of topics and a suggested list of topics may be found on the Call for Proposals page.

We have a series of articles by Andrew Lightheart that can provide help and inspiration in putting together your proposal. When you are ready, fill in our proposal submission form.

We look forward to working with you this year.

Bronze Sponsor TCUK 2016 – Acrolinx

Acrolinx logo

About Acrolinx

The Acrolinx platform helps the world’s greatest brands create amazing content: on-brand, on-target, and at scale. Built on an advanced linguistic analytics engine, Acrolinx is the only software platform that can actually “read” your content and guide writers to make it better. That’s why companies like Adobe, Boeing, Google, and Philips use Acrolinx to create content that’s more engaging, enjoyable, and impactful. Learn more at www.acrolinx.com.

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Platinum Sponsor TCUK 2016 – SCHEMA

SCHEMA logo

SCHEMA – Complex Documents Made Easy!

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.

Our products and solutions are successfully deployed across various branches of industry to simplify ‘complex documents,’ including technical documentation, software documentation and help systems, catalogs, labeling for pharmaceutical companies, training material, solutions for specialized publishers, contract and bid management. SCHEMA ST4 is based on Microsoft .NET technology with Windows and web clients, and can easily be integrated and deployed into modern IT landscapes, as it supports the entire bandwidth of documentation standards (XML, XSL:FO, DITA, etc.). SCHEMA ST4 offers a broad line-up of interfaces (XML editors, MS Office, Adobe CS & FrameMaker, SAP, etc.). SCHEMA is proud to be an active part of a network of renowned partners, as this also enables SCHEMA to offer specialized solutions for its customers.

Among the many customers already using solutions based on SCHEMA ST4 are: ABB, Agilent, Avaloq, Bosch, Boehringer Ingelheim, Bundesanzeiger, Carl Zeiss, Daimler, Deutsche Bundesbank, General Electric, Hewlett Packard, Lindauer DORNIER, MAN, Miele, Reifenhäuser, Roche Diagnostics, Schaeffler Gruppe, Siemens, SMS Siemag, Österreichische Bundesbahnen, Ottobock Healthcare, Philips, STOLL, Voith, Wolffkran and many more.

Further Information: www.schema.deSCHEMA blog in German / SCHEMA blog in English

Silver Sponsor TCUK 2016 – 3di

3di logo

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.

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.

Platinum Sponsor TCUK 2016 – Capita TI

Capita TI Logo

Capita TI

Capita Translation and Interpreting (Capita TI) is a leading provider of language services to both public and private organisations. We offer a wide range of professional translation and interpreting services, including website localisation, face-to-face interpreting, voiceover and subtitling, and multilingual SEO, in over 180 languages. Our experience has helped a diverse range of businesses and community groups to translate everything from websites and important documentation, to software and digital files, so that internal stakeholders and customers alike can understand the information they require, no matter what language they speak.

As we are part of Capita plc, a FTSE 100 organisation, we can offer extensive experience and resources, as well as being able to provide reliable end-to-end solutions. Our processes and capabilities are demonstrated by our ISO accreditations in information security; quality of management systems; and environmental management.

Capita Translation and Interpreting (Capita TI)

Diamond Sponsor TCUK 2016 – Adobe

adobe-tcs-logo

ADOBE BACKGROUND

Adobe revolutionizes how the world engages with ideas and information. Adobe’s award-winning software and technologies have set the standard for communication and collaboration for more than 25 years, bringing vital and engaging experiences to people across media and to every screen in their lives, at work and at play.

ADOBE TECH COMM GROUP

The business world is expanding rapidly amidst increased globalization, digitization and mobile device penetration. In this dynamic and evolving scenario, the technical content we will deliver has to be contextual, consumable and actionable – and easily available at the right place, at the right time and in the right amount. Hence, the ways in which the content needs to be authored, enriched, reviewed, managed, and delivered are also changing. This means that today’s technical communication tools need to support all the above requirements—while offering the highest return on investment, the lowest total cost of ownership, and the fastest go-to-market.

Adobe’s Technical Communication group delivers best-in-class tools and services that are aimed at facilitating the end -to-end process of creating ground-breaking content, publishing it seamlessly across media and devices, and achieving greater business success.

Adobe’s Technical Communication products include the Technical Communication Suite, FrameMaker, RoboHelp, FrameMaker Publishing Server, FrameMaker XML Author and RoboHelp Server.

Adobe TCS iconAdobe® Technical Communication Suite (2015 Release) is an indispensable toolkit for content developers, comprising five industry-leading tools for single-source authoring, content management and reuse, and multichannel publishing. Easily author bidirectional XML/DITA content with Adobe FrameMaker. Create training modules with Adobe Captivate and video presentations with Adobe Presenter. Collaborate seamlessly via multiplatform PDF-based reviews and integration with CMSs and cloud storage. Deliver dynamic content experiences across mobile devices, formats, and platforms, with Adobe RoboHelp and FrameMaker.

Adobe FrameMaker iconAdobe FrameMaker (2015 release) is a complete solution for bidirectional technical content. Publish natively across channels, mobile devices and formats, without any plug-ins. Author with best-in-class XML/DITA support using a simplified authoring environment. Collaborate seamlessly with subject matter experts, even on mobile devices. Manage content using out-of-the-box integration with leading CMSs and the cloud. Leverage the proven strengths of FrameMaker to handle long, complex documents.

Adobe RoboHelp iconAdobe RoboHelp (2015 release) empowers you to deliver engaging help, policy, and knowledge base content across mobile devices, formats, and platforms. Publish content as mobile apps, or in HTML5, EPUB 3, KF8, and MOBI. Help users find relevant content faster with dynamic content filters and contextual search results. Work more productively with a modern ribbon UI, customizable Quick Access toolbar, contextual tabs, and named conditional expressions.

Adobe RoboHelp Server iconAdobe RoboHelp Server 10 extends the capabilities of Adobe RoboHelp and Adobe FrameMaker. Merge multiple segments of Help content, including responsive HTML5 content, into a unified information system. Host it for anytime, anywhere, any device access. Get extensive analytics reports on content usage, and use the insights to optimize Help content. Manage user rights and security, and take advantage of simplified deployment and configuration. Control operations remotely with an intuitive UI.

Adobe FrameMaker XML Author iconAdobe FrameMaker XML Author (2015 release) enables you to easily create bidirectional XML content. Author with an intuitive user interface, multiple views, MathML equation support, XSLT and XPath, and new DITA 1.3 support. Manage content using out-of-the-box integration with leading CMSs and Dropbox. Empower your subject matter experts to create valid XML content without knowing XML using the simplified XML authoring environment. Collaborate seamlessly using PDF-based reviews, even on mobile devices.

Adobe FrameMaker Publishing Server iconAdobe FrameMaker Publishing Server (2015 release) is an enterprise software to automate multichannel, multidevice publishing. Allow multiple users to access publishing services remotely, and manage your publishing setup with a comprehensive dashboard. Output bidirectional content in multiple formats: HTML5, WebHelp, EPUB, KF8, MOBI, PDF, and CHM, and as mobile apps. Leverage out-of-the-box support for leading CMSs, or use the web APIs to smoothly integrate with other CMSs.

Adobe.com

TCUK 2016 will be held 13 to 15 September 2016 at Wyboston Lakes Executive Centre

The ISTC is delighted to announce that the Technical Communication UK (TCUK) conference 2016 will be taking place at Wyboston Lakes Executive Centre on 13 to 15 September 2016.

Wyboston Lakes Executive Centre is located midway between Cambridge and Milton Keynes, at the edge of the historic market town of St. Neots.

It is the largest, privately owned business and leisure destination in northern Europe, and it is set in 380 acres of rural countryside (30 acres bigger than Hyde Park).

Meeting room in Wyboston Lakes

Aerial view of Wyboston Lakes

We’ll be updating the website over the coming months with details on the speakers, presentations and how to book.

This year’s theme is:

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

Convince your boss – TCUK 2016

How to justify attending Technical Communication UK 2016 conference

Here are some suggestions for justifying why your manager or supervisor should send you to the TCUK 2016 conference. Below is a sample letter or email you might send.

[date]

Dear [your supervisor’s name]:

To help provide [your organisation] and my colleagues with the most current professional knowledge and skills in technical communications, I would like to attend the Technical Communication UK 2016 conference on 13th – 15th September at Wyboston Lakes Hotel, midway between Cambridge and Milton Keynes.

This event delivers over 30 sessions and workshops over the three days with speakers from companies like ours who describe how they implemented solutions to work smarter. There are a number of sessions this year focusing on the role of social media in improving the ways in which companies can share technical information with their customers. There is also a vendor exhibition showcasing the latest technologies that can support technical communication.

Sessions

To have an idea of how our company might benefit, the sessions that I find of particular relevance include: [customize the list from www.technicalcommunicationuk.com]
[topic relevant to your work]
[topic relevant to your work]
[topic relevant to your work]

Costs

The all-inclusive residential rate of [select appropriate rate] covers the conference from Tuesday morning to Thursday afternoon. It includes all receptions, the keynote address, 3 streams of open sessions, workshops, special events, dinner and Gala dinner, and networking opportunities. The value is very competitive when compared with similar conferences offered by other organizations, and as the conference is in the UK there are no overseas travelling costs.

A customised conference package can also be built from individual options such as a one-day admission to the conference for [select rate], and specially negotiated room rates of only [select rate] per night.

Summary of Benefits

Attending the Technical Communication UK 2016 conference will enhance my technical communication skills, keep me updated on the latest industry best practices, and help me to deliver the best information to our customers. I will be able to pass on much of what I learn to my colleagues, and my copies of the speaker presentations will be available to our team for reference.

I am very interested in discussing how the company could support my attendance at Technical Communication UK 2016. I will do whatever I can to make attending the conference a part of my employer-supported training this year. Thank you for considering my request.

Regards,
[your name]