Whatever your view of a Technical Author, do not be fooled by that title. We are much more than people realise, and we can help in ways you never thought possible. So, let me bust the myth about what we are and what we are not.
Would you mind reading on?
What I or WE are NOT
If I knew BASIC, C/C++, Java, you know where I’m going, I would be earning far more as a developer. I receive many calls for API documentation, a niche skill requiring knowledge of the code used in an API.
I will be careful here. I am not a project manager certified through Prince2, Agile Scrum, etc. My PM skills are relevant to technical documentation, whereby I set my schedule and arrange meetings with SMEs and other stakeholders.
Beyond documentation, my PM skills do not stretch to:
- the provision of detailed project planning, including progress evaluation, risk management, issue and resolution. If that is essential, hire a full-time Project Manager.
- A secretary organising the working lives of colleagues, and taking minutes. I do record my meetings (with a dictaphone) and extract the relevant information for the documents.
Technical Authoring on its own is a time-consuming role, and any expectations from me over and beyond the documentation scope of the project might be pushing my ability to get things done in a timely matter. Remember, our skill is documentation and how to fill those documents with information.
Sit with your SMEs and open their heads to extract all that hidden information. I then use it to build a document explaining to your non-technical audience how it works.
While I will be familiar with the terminology, remember I am not an expert in your department. I learn on the job.
I do supply effective written / verbal communication and collaboration, sympathy and encouragement to get things done. It isn’t as painful as people think.
I’m a third party
As an external consultant, I make decisions after a period of reflection on your situation and your expectations using MoSCoW. That stands for four different categories of initiatives:
- could-haves, and
- will not have.
The “W”, should you prefer, can mean wishful thinking.
Let me have it
When I join, please throw your documentation at me, everything, wherever it is and let me sift through it all. I have my own excel spreadsheets to track and control the documentation.
While I am at it, I suggest analysing SharePoint and/or Confluence and define exactly how your teams will manage the documents/content.
The efficient management of both applications improves the flow of information available to your teams.
By now, I know where the knowledge gaps are, where I can improve the documents and start working with your SMEs.
As mentioned above, I do possess the relevant skills within the context of a Technical Author.
- Design new template
- Improve structure of existing documents
- Process documentation across several categories,
- Arrange meetings with SME’s,
- I use tried and tested methods to plan, write, review, publish and maintain the content.
- Write/update the documents.
- Procedures and processes updates,
An aid to Content Development
With over 23 years of experience behind me, I already own an extensive library of generic documentation and various templates. If you have no documentation, we can tweak any document to meet the profile of your business. It saves not only time but also money.
ITIL and ITSM
I have experience in producing the following document types:
- IT Service Management (ITSM) based on ITIL best practices. Level 1 to 4 BPMN VISIO Processes and Narratives.
- Service Design, Service Transition, Service Operation and Continual Service Improvement,
- Delivery and Service Support,
- IT Service Continuity Management;
- Configuration Management and
- Service Desk.
Policy and Process
- Delivering written Policy, Process & Standards
- ISO27001/9001 compliance documentation to support a company’s GDPR, PCI/DSS, Security project
- documentation to support a Disaster Recovery scenario
- Operating Infrastructure documentation to support the functions of a large-scale Network
- A suite of documentation to help IT teams manage the pre-migration and post-migration stages of a Cloud-based service program.
Editing Existing Content
Enhancements may include:
- adding VISIO drawings,
- new screenshots,
- reword policies and content per se,
- additional narrative to Processes that are light on information,
- new templates, and
- Structure to existing Word documents and consistency.
All information needs a peer review by people who should know the data best and provide feedback. I leave nothing to chance to get what you need in place.
Apart from Spreadsheets, MS Word, PowerPoint, VISIO, my skills keep these projects on track. I will also suggest ways in which you can keep the documentation up to date and current. Information is an asset, and without it, you could place the business at a disadvantage.
SharePoint and Confluence
Suppose you have no official documentation strategy or a means of managing the documentation. If so, let me create a plan that will work for you. Documentation needs to be available to all staff and needs to be updated, rewritten and archived appropriately. Other aspects that need managing are ownership, version control and historical control.
If the business uses Confluence, my experience is an overload of outdated content no longer relevant to the company. I can analyse all spaces and check when the content was written and submitted.
Too many to mention, but the immediate impact will be on the following three points:
- Reduced costs
- more responsive Help desk/support
- better informed staff
- Confidence performing procedures.