Technical Comms Business Nf

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Technical Communications: Business Factors

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  • The foundation of successful ventures in business, be it in marketing, business alliances, investor relations, training, engineering, technology, and other sectors—is great communications. Communications can take on many forms: a Sales Representative’s handshake with a potential customer, an index in an Engineering Reference guide, a person’s posture during a project meeting with work colleagues, the tone of voice of an employee on the telephone help line, the knowledge level displayed by a technical trainer, the background music to a Sales video, or the information architecture and content management of a web site.
  • Marketing communications paves the way for your product roll-out. External technical documentation and design packages and supports your products and services. Internal technical documentation helps your technical and business processes become more efficient. In public relations, good technical documentation can help uphold your business directives in the community. Everyone’s a ‘communications’ customer : external customers who pay you, your work colleagues who work with you, your suppliers and partners, your investors—even the general public.
  • Ushered in with the coming of the Internet and e-business, Product Communications has an expanded role in the business community. Transcending the traditional chasm between Technical Communications and Marketing Communications, Product Communications ensures consistency between online and offline communications. A winning Product Communications strategy is conceived, implemented, and managed with the same quality process that’s required for your primary products and services. Content, and therefore communications, not only sustains your company’s image and branding; it’s intrinsic to your total product and service offering.
  • The packaging, delivery, and business impact of technical content needs to be thought about carefully. Technical documentation should promote comfort, confidence, ease-of-use, and product satisfaction. Good documentation not only can save money, it can help generate a profit by supporting the Sales effort. For example, you can shorten the Sales cycle by delivering decision-making information to potential customers, thus pre-qualifying both buyer and seller. The principle justification for having good documentation, is that it costs less than not having it at all. Every incompleteness, every error, every unclear or obsolete instruction, has its price. That price almost always involves adding more personal services, such as additional training courses, on-site consulting, more telephone help lines, more field service visits than necessary, and others.
  • The demand for better ‘post-sales’ customer service, including good technical documentation, has made it a distinguished product feature in today’s open-systems, plug-and-play, customer-driven market, where a customer can now easily replace your product with a competitor’s product. Poor documentation is directly linked to poor post-sales customer service. In many cases, the product is of high quality, but tainted by poor supporting documentation; the customer may perceive poor documentation as an actual defect in the primary product , not the documentation. The end result is that the customer never realizes the full added value the product can provide.
  • Your customer may be spending too much of their time calling your Help Desk people, while their project schedule slips as a result. They tell their bosses they’re not getting their job done on time because they have to fix a series of ‘problems’ associated with your product. You may even have to have one of your field service engineers visit the customer a number of times to fix the ‘problem’. All these unnecessary costs for you and your customer; not to mention product image degradation and bad press, could have been avoided by well-developed, well-thought-out documentation. Besides facing the possibility of having to hire more Help Desk people and Field Engineers, or absorbing overtime costs for your support people; you’ll most certainly have to perform a series of damage control procedures for your internal and external business relationships.
  • If this disappointing experience convinces your customer that a competitor’s product is better than yours, then the competitor’s product is better than yours. Customer misperceptions exist because you allowed them to, or even fostered them. Figure out remedies—immediately—stand in your customer’s shoes. Poor documentation comes about because you spent all your time, energy, and money developing and selling the product, and had little to spare to support it. Budget more time and money for supporting your product. Meaningful technical content, with well-planned delivery channels, can create positive customer relationships and media experiences, which turns into positive marketing messages for your company. The business and media grapevine soon will be working for you through such things as testimonials, word of mouth, and favorable press releases.
  • Most people believe one of the greatest tragedies in the history of the American Space program, the Challenger disaster, was caused by a design flaw in the shuttle’s solid rocket boosters that was exacerbated by near-freezing air temperatures at the time of the launch, but it was more than that. An intensive investigation by the Presidential Commission found other causes: 1) the rocket booster manufacturer had insufficient performance test data, 2) the temperature readings taken by the Ice team, far below what the O-rings were meant to withstand, was not passed on to decision makers, because the team felt its only responsibility was to record ice thickness, and 3) a combination of mismanagement, poor communications within NASA and with contractors, and inadequate safety procedures.
  • The Big Dig, the largest construction project in U.S. history, has become somewhat of a disaster itself: a tunnel with numerous leaks that will take years and millions of dollars to fix. According to a Boston Globe article, dated November 18, 2004, a group of state, federal, and contracting engineers issued a confidential report back in 1997, concluding that the tunnel walls were waterproofed with “products that didn’t work, and were often applied incorrectly by poorly trained contractors.” The report went on to say that “The contractors should have reviewed the manufacturer’s instructions, and realized that the waterproofing system would not work on these walls.”
  • The World Wide Web has transformed the way we do business. Everyone’s meeting on the Web in today’s business environment: manufacturers, suppliers, customers; programmers, advertisers, marketing executives, technical writers, human resource staff—you name it! Business relationships have changed dramatically on the World Wide Web. Winning companies in e-commerce recognize the Internet not only as a driver, but also as an enabler. Occupational roles that were distinct in the old ‘offline’ world have merged and consolidated in the new ‘online’ one. This couldn’t be more apparent in the case of technical documentation and marketing communications. The gates finally opened, and out came technical content into the business world.
  • Technology and its content has assumed its place in the executive boardroom. Now well established within business practices, technology is a major factor in deriving new online business models. The web’s coming of age shattered boundaries between the technical documentation, marketing communications, and corporate communications departments—boundaries that impeded clear and consistent communications throughout the enterprise and out to the customer. Web technology effected technical content and business workflow re-construction, particularly in the areas of Accounting, Sales, Marketing, Customer Service, and Training and Documentation. The new mission statement for today’s ‘professional’ business entity: one face; one voice; one message, comprising just the right balance of synchronized communications and logistics, with personalized delivery.
  • Accurate and timely product information (including structured information, e.g., programming code, data sets, etc.; and unstructured information, e.g., text, graphics, and multimedia) has, in part, replaced physical inventory with web-based content. System-to-system connectivity helped to unload information from its physical carrier, such as a salesman, direct mail, product packaging, and the retail shelf, thus empowering the customer with a more intimate, self-serving environment on the web. Because of the company’s web interface, is stands to reason that technical documentation and marketing communications people have to start planning together. A universal corporate style guide has to be established; company, product, and industry terminology has to be ironed out.
  • A content strategy has to be agreed upon and implemented. A content design, information architecture, testing, production, storage, and distribution process—a comprehensive content management and development system—has to be determined and adhered to. Staff roles, permissions, and responsibilities have to be redefined. People have to work together as a team like never before.
  • By integrating your Internet and intranet sites, your company can create a powerful, holistic information system to distribute to and gather information from customers, thus tailoring the sales approach to your needs, closing the transaction, and providing a low-cost, post-sales service. In today’s highly competitive global marketplace, this translates into a competitive advantage in terms of shorter cycle times in identifying and closing prospects, and building ongoing customer relationships to maintain and to build business. A company’s web strategy (Internet and intranet) should be aligned with its mission statement. It acts as a road map; one to be referred to continually. A Web Steering group should be established to accommodate for future growth and amendments, keeping the business and information strategy useful, realistic, and on-track.
  • Intranets offer tremendous potential as a communication, collaboration, and knowledge-building tool that will create new, more efficient ways of doing business. Your company’s intranet can support an all-encompassing Product Communications program by providing such things as templates, style sheets, tools, standards and guidelines, standard buttons, link strategies, image locations, and automated web pages for content providers. You can use your intranet to connect your Field Service personnel to the home office, and to link your Sales Representatives to each other to obtain product information, or to collaborate when pursuing Sales leads.
  • E-business success stories involve companies that build and acquire new capabilities and markets, make alliances with companies in previously unrelated businesses, and merge with others for pre-emptive scale and scope. Now relying more on technical content development, management, and delivery systems, these types of business relationships make it possible to have a virtual network of companies working together for collaborative real-time design, engineering, and production; for supply-chain management; for joint bidding processes; for setting industry standards, and so forth. As e-business begins to deliver improved productivity through the optimization of supply chains and greater customer focus, the increase in capital growth will be substantial.
  • By recognizing and readily implementing the business advantages that technical content can provide, these companies recognize, value, record and analyze mistakes; continually strategizing and improvising, with the flexibility to address not only mistakes, but to respond quickly to customer demands. Successful companies in this ‘network’ economy recognize the importance of content applications that effect positive business relationships within the organization; managers begin to see the clear connection between communications and company morale. You can streamline legacy workflows by embedding this knowledge and information flow into business processes, where information can ‘shadow’ each process and transaction.
  • Technical Comms Business Nf

    1. 1. Technical Communications: Business <ul><li>Forms of Communications (Examples) </li></ul><ul><ul><li>A Sales Representative’s Handshake </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>An Index in an Engineering Reference Guide </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>A Person’s Posture During a Meeting </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Tone of Voice of a Help Desk Person on the Phone </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Knowledge Level of Technical Trainer </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Background Music and Voice Over to a Sales Video </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Web Site User Interface, Information Architecture, and Content Management Practices </li></ul></ul>
    2. 2. Technical Communications: Business <ul><li>Forms of Communications (Examples) </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Marketing Communications Paves the Way for Product Roll-Out </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>External Technical Documentation Packages and Supports Products and Services </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Internal Technical Documentation Helps Technical and Business Processes Become More Efficient </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>In Public Relations, Good Technical Documentation Can Help Uphold Business Directives in the Community </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Everyone’s a ‘Communications’ Customer: Work Colleagues, Customers, Suppliers, Partners, Investors, the General Public </li></ul></ul>
    3. 3. Technical Communications: Business <ul><li>Product Communications </li></ul><ul><ul><li>E-Business Provided the Decisive Push </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Transcends Technical and Marketing Communications </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Ensures Consistency Between Online and Offline Communications </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Undergoes Same Quality Process as Primary Products and Services </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Sustains Company Image/Branding and Intrinsic to Product/Service Offering </li></ul></ul>
    4. 4. Technical Communications: Business <ul><li>Technical Content </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Consider Packaging, Delivery, Business Impact </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Should Promote Comfort, Confidence, Ease-of-Use, and Product Satisfaction </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Shortens Sales Cycle: Pre-Qualifying Buyer and Seller </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Good Documentation Costs Less than Not Having It </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Poor Documentation: More Training, Consulting, Field-Service, Help Desk Personnel—Higher Costs for You and Your Customer </li></ul></ul>
    5. 5. Technical Communications: Business <ul><li>Effects of Poor Documentation </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Magnified with Open System/Plug & Play Environment </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Contributes to Poor Post-Sales Customer Service </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Quality of Primary Product Is Tainted </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>May Be Perceived as a Defect in the Primary Product </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Full Added Value of Product Never Realized </li></ul></ul>
    6. 6. Technical Communications: Business <ul><li>Effects of Poor Documentation </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Customer Spending Too Much Time Calling Help Desk </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>May Have to Deploy Field Service Engineers </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Extra Costs for You and Your Customer—More Trainers, Help Desk People, Consultants, Field Service Personnel </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Product Image Degradation and Bad Press </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Damage Control for Internal and External Business Relationships </li></ul></ul>
    7. 7. Technical Communications: Business <ul><li>Remedies for Poor Documentation </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Rectify Problems Immediately </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Stand in Customer’s Shoes </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Budget More Time and Money to Support Product </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Create Meaningful Content </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Well-Planned Delivery Channels to Support Marketing and Media Objectives </li></ul></ul>
    8. 8. Technical Communications: Business <ul><li>Manufacturing and Operations Example : CHALLENGER DISASTER—Poor Testing and Communications </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Manufacturer Had Insufficient Test Data on How Boosters Would Perform at Very Low Temperatures </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Ice Team Personnel Recorded a Before-Launch Temperature Far Below What O-Rings Were Designed to Withstand—Never Passed Info on to Management </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Investigation Uncovered: Design Flaws, Mismanagement, Poor Communications Within NASA and with Contractors, and Inadequate Safety Procedures </li></ul></ul>
    9. 9. Technical Communications: Business <ul><li>Manufacturing and Operations Example : BIG DIG DISASTER—Poor Training, Incorrect Usage, Neglected to Read Instructions </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Largest Construction Project in U.S History </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Numerous Leaks that Will Take Years and Millions of Dollars to Fix </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Engineers Reported that Contractors Were Poorly Trained and Neglected to Read the Manufacturer’s Instructions, Leading to Incorrect Product Usage </li></ul></ul>
    10. 10. Technical Communications: Business <ul><li>The Web </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Everyone’s Meeting on the Web </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Business Relationships Have Changed Dramatically </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Business Driver and Enabler </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Occupational Roles have Merged/Consolidated </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Technical Content Enters the World of Business </li></ul></ul>
    11. 11. Technical Communications: Business <ul><li>The Web </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Technology Has Assumed Place in Executive Boardroom </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Shattered Boundaries Between Communications Departments </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Effected Re-Construction of Technical Content and Business Workflow, e.g., Accounting, Sales, Marketing, Customer Support, Training & Documentation </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>One Face, One Voice, One Message, Synchronized Communications & Logistics with Personalized Delivery </li></ul></ul>
    12. 12. Technical Communications: Business <ul><li>The Web </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Information Replaced Physical Inventory </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>System-to-System Connectivity Unloaded Some Information From Its Physical Carrier, e.g., Salesman, Direct Mail, Product Packaging, and the Retail Shelf </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Providing More Intimate, Self Serving Environment </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Need for Universal Corporate Style Guide; Consistent Company, Product, and Industry Terminology </li></ul></ul>
    13. 13. Technical Communications: Business <ul><li>The Web </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Content Strategy Agreed upon and Implemented </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Determine and Adhere to a Comprehensive Content Management and Development System, i.e., Design, Information Architecture, Production, Storage and Distribution </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Re-Define Staff Roles and Responsibilities </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Work Together as a Team Like Never Before </li></ul></ul>
    14. 14. Technical Communications: Business <ul><li>The Web </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Integrate Internet and Intranet Sites to Distribute and Gather Customer Information </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Low-Cost Sales and Customer Service Approach: Pre-Qualifying, Shorter Sales Cycles, Ongoing Relationships </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Align Web Strategy to Mission Statement </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Establish a Web Steering Group to Keep Business and Information Strategy Useful, Realistic, and On- Track </li></ul></ul>
    15. 15. Technical Communications: Business <ul><li>The Intranet </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Improves Communication, Collaboration, and Knowledge-Building </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Provides for a More Efficient Way of Doing Business </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Supports ‘Product Communications’ Program with Centralized Templates, Images, Style Sheets, Tools, Standards and Guidelines, etc. for Content Providers </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Connects to Field Service and Sales for Collaboration </li></ul></ul>
    16. 16. Technical Communications: Business <ul><li>E-Business </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Companies with New Capabilities, Markets, and Alliances </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Relies More on Technical Content and Delivery </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Virtual Network Companies Collaborate for Real- Time Design, Engineering, Production, Supply Chain Management, Joint Bidding, Industry Standards, etc. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Improved Productivity, Customer Focus, and Capital Growth </li></ul></ul>
    17. 17. Technical Communications: Business <ul><li>E-Business </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Enables Technical Content to Provide Strategic Business Advantages in Analysis, Testing, Valuation, Recording, Improvisation, and Customer Service </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Content Applications Effect Positive Business Relationships Within the Company </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Communication Affects Company Morale </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Embed Knowledge and Information Flow Into Business Processes: ‘Information Shadowing’ </li></ul></ul>

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