Track: Project Management

Alexander Berman
Content Manager, Kaplan Publishing

The publishing industry is becoming more and more digital every day. Even so publishing houses still have to support a large number of customers who prefer print products. Can they do both without compromising quality? Yes! Kaplan Publishing, the publishing arm of the world leader in test preparation, is undergoing that same transition to digital processes today. Come learn how Kaplan Publishing is building out a digital production process and how it can inform your own efforts.

In this session, you will learn:

  • How historical publishing workflows are breaking down
  • The steps we took in building an effective and multi-channel digital production process
  • How implementing this process will save your company significant resource hours and
  • headaches
  • The advantages of creating a single canonical source for your content
  • Real outcomes from our own implementations in 2013
 

Expanding the technical communication sphere of influence requires a more holistic approach to supporting the business organization than many in the field are familiar with. There’s no argument that technical communicators can add value, contribute to the bottom line, and help build loyal, fanatical customers. This session explores how technical communicators can build the business case(s) you need to take a more active visible role in product development and business strategy by speaking directly to management’s needs and agenda.

We’ll discuss what skills that we already possess (audience analysis, research, rhetoric and reason) can be used to build business cases that develop and expand your team, your influence in the organization and your ability to support the goals central to your company’s success.

We’ll discuss…

  • What are “business cases?”
  • Knowing your audience
  • Good and bad arguments
  • Key ingredients
  • Delivering your case
  • Role playing
  • Benefits of building business cases
 
Leah Cutter
Technology Knowledge Management Specialist, Salesforce.com

At Salesforce.com, we now have a team called, “Core Documentation.” We are focused on documenting our internal systems and architecture. Many of us on the team don’t create content: We generate framework, best practices, and training for engineer-created content. (Content can include and is not limited to: code comments, run lists, specs, team web pages, wikis, white papers, architectural diagrams, presentations, etc.)

But that goes back to the first question–how do you get someone to write, when the word “writer” isn’t part of their title?

We’ve been successful using several different venues:

  • Documentation “hack” day – where engineers spend a day improving their internal doc
  • Events where posters of different aspects of the architecture are displayed (think art walk, only for engineers)
  • VERY easy to use templates for readme files, etc.
  • Lunch meetings/presentations/training/networking
  • Flattery, appeals to logic (bus factor) and bribes

Attend this session and learn what has and hasn’t worked for us in terms of encouraging engineers to generate content.


 

With varying resources, content demands and political structures, every company has a different entry point for tackling the content problem. In this session, Leigh Blaylock will provide a step-by-step account of the route her growing company of more than 5,000 employees, five business units, and nine marketing teams took—from content audit; to sales survey analysis; to collateral architecture; to definitions, counts, audiences, and templates—to solve its growing
collateral and content inconsistencies.

You will leave this session with a better understanding of how to foster collaboration and, as a result, tackle big content problems with small budgets, increase buy-in and adoption, and move your company forward in our current content-driven world. And because that world is ever-changing, Leigh will provide an update on how her company is using collaboration to define personas, create durable content, and distribute the right content to the right audience at the right time.

 
Leigh White
DITA Specialist, IXIASOFT

When technical publications groups are considering moving to DITA, one issue they typically consider as a motivator for making the switch is greater customer satisfaction. Yet one aspect that is not considered often enough is how to ensure writer satisfaction. If you are a driver of a DITA implementation, then the writers are your customers and their satisfaction should be one of your priorities. The assumption is too often that writers will immediately see the benefits of DITA and will embrace it without reservation. Anyone who has been part of a DITA implementation knows this is not the case. Just as you have to “sell” DITA to your companies on the basis of cost and efficiency, you have to “sell” DITA to your writers, too. This presentation will focus on some typical sources of writer dissatisfaction and push-back and explore ways to overcome them.


 
Melissa “Misty” Weaver
Content Strategist, Content Insight

Main Challenge: The client’s Content Management System was configured by a volunteer before a content strategy or plan was created. The lack of consistency and technical issues were keeping the client from sharing their website address, instead sending people to social media channels that had no connection back to important tasks on the website while the site’s usefulness continued to decline and broken or outdated aspects were not corrected.

Overcoming Challenge: Through user research and multiple levels of content and competitive audits, the class quickly prioritized the organization’s business goals, audience preferences and tasks to determine how best to connect current communication channels with actions. In this case, meeting and written recommendations for new content, content revision and consistent channel planning were used to educate the client about content strategy and user experience so they could carry out continued improvements.


 
Mysti Berry
Principal Content Strategist, salesforce.com

In this session, you’ll learn how salesforce.com online help changed the primary information architectural tool from inline links to user-goal based structure with minimal See Also links. We’d always delivered our help as HTML topics in a single portal, plus a single (giant) PDF. When we carved the content up into smaller bundles, we discovered an over-reliance on inline links. The challenge: to help writers understand how basic architecture choices and knowledge of user behaviors could reduce our reliance on links and improve the customer experience.

Our team rightly insisted that they understand the information architecture theory and practice driving this change before they’d implement the requested changes. Proving this to smart, experienced writers was one the biggest challenge of my career. Our writers are the fiercest user advocates and weren’t about to change their habits without clear proof that the user experience would improve.

Did the user experience improve? I’ll share the preliminary evidence that all the work we did is beginning to pay off, and explain how this first attempt to make our content more structured will support the multichannel publishing challenges that are now just around the corner.