John Kearney will be presenting on “Unpacking and applying the Tech Comms Toolbox”.
Content is not the sole domain of the Technical Communicator. Subject Matter Experts, Marketing Execs, Project Managers, Business Analysts, Admin Personnel… all these and more can and will create technical content to be consumed by others.
However, as these professionals often lack the specific skills to be found in the Technical Communication Toolbox, they often face massive content quality and management challenges. This is why we can and should be seen as more than writers of manuals.
During my career I’ve been lucky enough to work extensively outside the traditional parameters of Technical Communication. Among other activities, I’ve written functional design specifications, researched new technologies, created marketing collateral, run RFIs, edited bid documentation, designed project management methodologies. All these things and more are possible once we can understand and apply our specific set of skills.
I’d like to discuss what I think are the critical components of our toolbox, and how we can all apply these to break out of our traditional boundaries. In doing so, I’ll share with you some of my successes, my failures, and the lessons I’ve learned; beginning with my time in the Civil Service, and right the way through to my present career as a Tech Comms consultant in Cambridge.
As an added bonus, I’ll be drawing on examples of effective and ineffective user assistance from my hobbies, specifically archery and live-action roleplaying!
Fi Parker and Martin Clark will give a workshop on “The Bid Manager and the Technical Communicator: Whose line is it anyway?”.
The relationship between the Bid Manager and the Bid Writer is critical to the success of most bids. To explore this relationship, Fi and Martin will lead delegates on a tour of the bid life cycle, stopping at strategic points to discuss the position of these two professionals, their goals, needs and wants. As the tour progresses, delegates will develop a strategy for bid content development that will help them stand out amongst the crowd. They will also evaluate and adapt some of the tools bid managers and technical communicators use to help them maintain accuracy, speed and quality of work under pressure.
This workshop will benefit technical communicators interested in establishing themselves in the relatively lucrative world of bid writing. It will be of particular interest to those who would like to know what it’s like to work in a team on large and complex bids.
Farhad Patel will be presenting on “Dynamic Content Publishing”-
In today’s culture of instant gratification our customers prefer receiving small pieces of information, exactly what they need, when they need it. In order to keep up with customer expectations the Huawei documentation team planned and implemented a dynamic publishing solution to allow our customers to quickly locate, assemble and save personalized content. This session will cover important aspects of the information development process such as audience task analysis, user personas, use cases, reuse strategy, taxonomy and metadata strategy. The session will also demonstrate Huawei’s Dynamic Content Publishing solution showing its key features and functionality.
Mattias Sander will be presenting on “Keep It Lean: manage projects using Kanban TOCs”.
Do you ever feel like you’re spending too much time on administration? Do you want to work smarter to achieve “mind like water”? Do you want to achieve flow by reducing waste? In this session you will learn how to apply some practical methods from Lean Manufacturing in the world of Technical Communication. Specifically you will learn how to use the Kanban TOC method, and how it helps you enable growth, reduce cost, and mitigate risk.
In the short term, the Kanban TOC method reduces your administration effort, and in the long term, it helps you identify process improvements to maximize value for both your organization and your customers.
You will learn:
Practical tips & tricks from the world of Lean Manufacturing
How to use the Kanban TOC method
How to set up and use a Kanban TOC in MadCap Flare
Karen Mardahl and John Kearney will give a workshop on “Keeping up with life! Or, how to put ‘Getting Things Done’ into practice”
Perhaps you have the perfect method to manage your work and obligations, but can it cope with the unexpected or help you plan for the future? New boss, clients or management practices. Illness. Job loss. Stress. Changing career or job advancement. Learning new skills in addition to doing your current job.
Karen and John will introduce the concept of getting things done (GTD) as it applies to today’s technical communicator. Then, participants will have hands-on activities (also pre-conference!) to start making some getting-things-done tweaks to their routines, both at work and at home. Takeaways include
Testing your need for GTD
Exercises to understand the most important concept of “Next Action” and the concept of “Closing the Loop”
Demo of tools that support GTD
GTD Tips and tricks
The assurance that “your way” is still the best, especially after it’s GTD-charged!
Marjorie Jones will be presenting on “Source Control for Technical Communicators”.
Software engineers have long used source control to manage the complexity of their source files. Do technical communicators need it? What advantages does it bring?
This session describes the features of source control and the benefits for technical communicators. You will learn how it can help manage your documentation files and how to use it effectively. You will also learn about some common source control tools.
This session will be useful if you already use source control and want a better understanding, or if you are thinking about using it and want to know more before deciding.
Nils Bier will be presenting on “DocOps – Agile Content Development in Practice”.
The way technical communicators work and collaborate with stakeholders is changing. Software industries – and more and more other organizations – are finally breaking up their knowledge silos. Their goal is to work in a more collaborative way of creating, updating and extending technical content. The interdisciplinary DocOps approach affects culture, processes, and content platforms. It’s putting everyone who’s involved literally ‘on the same page’.
In this presentation, you’ll learn how DocOps can be implemented successfully, by bringing technical communicators, service, support, and developers together. Let’s embrace DocOps to manage technical content more efficiently, to continuously improve content quality and to increase customer value.
Bridget Khursheed will be presenting on “Developing (unsupported) support”.
As the KAL RTM, a new concept cashless cash machine, moves from prototype to production – we need to create a complete support package for its technical teams. But can online training and documentation solutions cut it when our partners deploy in remote destinations including Australian outback service stations, Filipino diveshops, and local stores in developing countries? Technicians will have no reliable internet connection and at times not even a phone signal.
Any support delivered has to stand up for itself.
Join Bridget Khursheed on a real life journey into extreme support documentation.
Doug Dennis will be presenting on “Promote, Innovate, Repeat: maintaining documentation quality throughout organisational change”.
Many technical writers experience sudden, sometimes unsettling organisational change which affects their work and that of their associated teams. You might find yourself as part of a larger documentation team having to adapt to unfamiliar processes and tools, or placed under the spotlight as the sole technical writer in your organisation.
As technical writer or documentation manager, how do we make ourselves and our teams resilient and flexible in the face of organisational change?
How can we cope when our company is acquired, merged or expanded?
In this presentation we’ll discuss how promoting your team correctly, aligning them within the organisation and finding engineering pain points are some of the key factors to ensure success.
We’ll also explore some of the challenges and opportunities of moving through multiple incarnations of a company, coping with change and how to keep your documentation set coherent throughout this time.
Ferry Vermeulen will be presenting on “US regulations on instructions for use”.
In the EU, a manufacturer can use European harmonized standards to comply with CE-directives and accordingly affix the CE marking. Although there are many similarities, the process of compliance in the US is slightly different from the process of EU compliance. These differences have effect on the instructions for use that accompany a product. When exporting from the EU to the US, the differences should be taken into account, so also the instructions comply with all laws and product liability will be minimized.
Neil Perlin will give a workshop on “Creating Mobile Apps without Programming – A New Opportunity for Technical Communicators?”.
Help and web authoring once required programming knowledge until WYSIWYG tools emerged and let technical communicators create help and web sites. App development is now following the same path. WYSIWYG app tools now let technical communicators create apps. Is this a new opportunity for us?
This workshop introduces the mobile app space. We’ll look at types of apps that technical communicators might create. We’ll then create a simple app with no programming, using a tool called ViziApps. You’ll see how to add pages, navigation, email, and other features. You’ll be able to run the finished app on your phone in preview mode, without the app’s being published. You’ll leave with a sense of the app market, tools, design concepts, and a working app to demo.
Note – This workshop is a demonstration, but Neil will provide instructions for attendees who want to follow along and create the app on their laptops.
TCUK 2014 took place 16th-18th September 2014, in Brighton. Delegates could choose from a wide range of presentation topics, including content development and content delivery, the challenges of mobile documentation, and the opportunities that exist in structured authoring. The special focus was “Technical Content in the Age of Social Media”.
CJ Walker posted daily reviews of the conference on Storify: