Successfully reported this slideshow.
We use your LinkedIn profile and activity data to personalize ads and to show you more relevant ads. You can change your ad preferences anytime.
Technical Writing in
Energy and Resources
Risks and Opportunities

Dr Robert Illes
Technical Communication UK
Bristol, Sep...
Imagine being in a place where we can say…
We are a leading professional services provider to the
energy, resource and complex process industries.
Our services cover...
Engineering Projects in
Energy and Resources


Waterfall project management



Subject matter / discipline experts own a...
Engineering Projects:
The Undiscovered Country
The most important deliverables are:

Written Reports
Strategies
Decision P...
Engineering Projects:
The Undiscovered Country
Choose your sector:
Power
Renewables
Coal, Gas
Carbon capture

Nuclear

Hyd...
Engineering Projects:
The Undiscovered Country
Choose your discipline:
Assurance and Governance Infrastructure
Business Or...
This Study
Two-Way Risks and Opportunities
Risks
Technical Writer

Engineering Project

(Dedicated Technical
Communications)

(Compan...
Method – Data Gathering


One-to-one exploratory conversations with a selection of participants



Participant prompt sh...
Method – Data Analysis


Compilation of anecdotes



Emergence of categories



Saturation of data – you hear similar t...
Study Participants



Nine discipline specialists across the spectrum, at all levels from
graduate to director
“Home cro...
Methodological Underpinning
Methodological Underpinning
Methodological Underpinning


Risk Management: risks and opportunities treated together
Covello and Allen (1988), Hillson...
Emerging Categories


Financial: aspects such as cash flow and budget



Expertise: is it appropriate, how it will affec...
1. Risks to the Project
Risks
Financial
Expertise

1. FOR THE PROJECT (from the technical writer to the project)
Elements
...
2. Opportunities for the Project
Opportunities
Financial
Expertise

2. FOR THE PROJECT (from the technical writer to the p...
3. Risks to the Writer
Risks
Financial

Expertise

Project
Efficiency
Reputation

3. FOR THE TECHNICAL WRITER (from the pr...
4. Opportunities for the Writer
Opportunities
Financial

Expertise

Project
Efficiency
Reputation

4. FOR THE TECHNICAL WR...
Emerging Gems


Is a writer always focused on the reader? Despite our axiom “write
for the reader”



How safe is a writ...
Summing Up
Weighing In
Cost of Dedicated
Technical
Communication
Resource

Inspired by:
http://www.writingassist.com

Cost of Ignorin...
Profit Centre and Value: Evidence Snapshot
Houlihan, D. (2009). Technical Communications as a Profit Center. Boston, Ma., ...
Conclusions


Identified risks have counterparts as opportunities and vice versa –
there is always this two-way relations...
Remember the Opportunities…
Written Reports
Strategies
Decision Papers
Guidelines
Plans
Standards
Specifications

Philosop...
Dedicated Technical Communication Development – Why?

A case for our on-going engagement in
Energy and Resources projects
Key Benefits of Using Technical Writers


Reader focus…



Optimise project efficiency



Drive schedules



Drive pro...
Reader Focus
Technical writers focus on the reader
at all times
Good writing encourages the reader to
carry on reading
Do ...
Optimise Project
Efficiency
It‟s about more than good writing skills:
•

Problem-definers, problem-solvers

•

Management ...
Drive Schedules
Technical writers like to write and edit,
specialists generally do not
Precise about concepts and terminol...
Drive Profits, Add Value


Add value to the business in multiple
ways



Enhance all aspects of current
operations



R...
References
Al Blackwell, C. (1995). A Good Installation Guide Increases User Satisfaction and Reduces Support Costs Techni...
Your Energetic and Resourceful
Technical Author

Dr Robert Illes
BSc (Hons) PGCE PhD MISTC
Senior Technical Author
robert....
Upcoming SlideShare
Loading in …5
×

TCUK 2013 - Technical writing in Energy and Resources: Risks and opportunities

911 views

Published on

Technical writing in Energy and Resources: Risks and opportunities

Published in: Business, Technology
  • Be the first to comment

TCUK 2013 - Technical writing in Energy and Resources: Risks and opportunities

  1. 1. Technical Writing in Energy and Resources Risks and Opportunities Dr Robert Illes Technical Communication UK Bristol, September 2013
  2. 2. Imagine being in a place where we can say…
  3. 3. We are a leading professional services provider to the energy, resource and complex process industries. Our services cover the full spectrum both in size and lifecycle – from the creation of new assets to services that sustain and enhance operating assets. Technical Communication is central and implicit in all aspects of company activity…
  4. 4. Engineering Projects in Energy and Resources  Waterfall project management  Subject matter / discipline experts own and do their own writing  Quality of writing is extremely variable  Focus of attention is usually the engineering, the schedule, pesky changes or pacifying a customer who is equally under pressure to deliver…
  5. 5. Engineering Projects: The Undiscovered Country The most important deliverables are: Written Reports Strategies Decision Papers Guidelines Plans Standards Specifications Philosophies Design Basis Method Statements Procedures Scopes of Work Technical Studies Opportunities at the outset…
  6. 6. Engineering Projects: The Undiscovered Country Choose your sector: Power Renewables Coal, Gas Carbon capture Nuclear Hydrocarbons Deep water, Subsea, On-shore Oil, Gas Processing, LNG, Gas-to-liquid Pipelines Mining Base metals, iron, aluminium Exotic metals, lithium Chemicals, phosphates Processing, Beneficiation Infrastructure Transportation on and off-shore Pioneer camps, Operations, Admin Water Environmental impact Niche consultancy: Economic/Macroeconomic Analyses Geotechnical Carbon Consulting Sulphur Technology Opportunities at the outset…
  7. 7. Engineering Projects: The Undiscovered Country Choose your discipline: Assurance and Governance Infrastructure Business Organisation Insurances Capital Cost Estimating Investment Opportunities Commissioning Communications (ICT) Construction Detailed Engineering Design Geology Health, Safety and Security Legal Manufacturing Market Analyses Operations Management / Mobilisation Operating Cost Estimating Permitting Human Resources Process Engineering Product Laboratory Testing Procurement and Supply Chain Management Quality and Integrity Management Regional / Local Content Risk Management Schedule and Planning Stakeholder Analyses Strategy Sustainable Development / Environment Testing and Inspection Opportunities at the outset…
  8. 8. This Study
  9. 9. Two-Way Risks and Opportunities Risks Technical Writer Engineering Project (Dedicated Technical Communications) (Company, Client, Stakeholders) Opportunities 1. What are the risks that a technical writer poses to an engineering project? 2. What are the opportunities that a technical writer presents to an engineering project? 3. What are the risks that an engineering project poses to a technical writer? 4. What are the opportunities that an engineering project presents to a technical writer?
  10. 10. Method – Data Gathering  One-to-one exploratory conversations with a selection of participants  Participant prompt sheet given a day in advance  Brainstorming and recording of ideas as they arise
  11. 11. Method – Data Analysis  Compilation of anecdotes  Emergence of categories  Saturation of data – you hear similar things with each new participant  Occasional occurrence of a real gem/oddity that throws your entire thinking…
  12. 12. Study Participants   Nine discipline specialists across the spectrum, at all levels from graduate to director “Home crowd” in that they are people I have worked with, get on with and who agreed to spend a little time helping with this study Name Dionne Matthew Kate Ceren Frank David Sanjay Jose Scott Dr Robert Illes Role Risk and Economics Manager Senior Climate Change Consultant Graduate Engineer Graduate PSCM Specialist Mega-projects Director Engineering Manager Process Engineer Construction Manager Regional Economics Director Senior Technical Writer
  13. 13. Methodological Underpinning
  14. 14. Methodological Underpinning
  15. 15. Methodological Underpinning  Risk Management: risks and opportunities treated together Covello and Allen (1988), Hillson (2002)  Small scale qualitative study, a limited number of participants Glaser and Strauss (1967), Lincoln and Guba (1985)  Context of projects I have worked on: “battery limits”  All the assumptions and “noise” I bring to the study… What’s in it for stakeholders? Consequences for projects What’s in it for us? Enhancement of our practice New and enhanced knowledge about how technical writing can affect a project Avoiding probable pitfalls How to mitigate probable risks Enhanced kudos, some new knowledge out there
  16. 16. Emerging Categories  Financial: aspects such as cash flow and budget  Expertise: is it appropriate, how it will affect the work generated  Project Efficiency: schedule, need for training, communication  Reputation: how it can be damaged or enhanced
  17. 17. 1. Risks to the Project Risks Financial Expertise 1. FOR THE PROJECT (from the technical writer to the project) Elements How to Mitigate? Cost – additional drain on budget, perception Hire on a needs basis, draw on demonstrated that tech comm is a cost centre knowledge that it is a profit centre Lack of relevant depth of knowledge in Interview and hire the right person with:1) relevant disciplines engineering background 2) English skills 3) common sense Insufficient understanding of the scope, wasted Establishing positive and effective communication time in reworking non fit for purpose work channels, patience for all parties Communication… Differing points of view or focus on what is important Unknown skillset at point of hire leading to either underuse of writer or highly divergent results Project Efficiency Reputation Interviewing, communication Communication. Allow writer to engage clients/stakeholders Lack of engaging all stakeholders. Is the writer adequately focused on the reader? Need for training (both the writer and SMEs) Technical writer ownership – potential bottleneck if writer has to review every document Conflicts of interest – exposure to highly confidential data Company X perceived as expensive due to lavish use of “non-essential” personnel in expensive locations Small initial pain for larger gains Train others in the ways of the writer; let writer focus on those big, important documents like executive summaries Learn the principle of Chinese walls Hire a writer on a “needs basis” or make tech comm a profit generating centre
  18. 18. 2. Opportunities for the Project Opportunities Financial Expertise 2. FOR THE PROJECT (from the technical writer to the project) Elements Increased profits – save money in the long run as project is demonstrably on time, on budget, producing quality work Realisation of what we can use a writer for: scopes of work, feasibility reports, execution reports, end of project reports Writer can revitalise a study with a fresh approach; organise data in innovative ways Project Efficiency Writers focus on the reader, not their line manager or some piece of engineering Making all documents standardised, fit for purpose, up-to-date, consistent and useable across all disciplines Can help project be on time, on budget, reduce burden of SMEs; so long as engaged EARLY New approaches streamline project practices, are reusable, driving schedule; generally improve the quality of project work Reputation A writer is a natural interface between SME disciplines and with clients Leverage good writing quality as an integral part of why the company should get the work Mitigate communication breakdowns over documents being rejected at the outset
  19. 19. 3. Risks to the Writer Risks Financial Expertise Project Efficiency Reputation 3. FOR THE TECHNICAL WRITER (from the project to the technical writer) Elements How to Mitigate? Sporadic work if hired on a “needs basis” – Run a couple of projects concurrently usually busy at beginning and end of a project with a lull in the middle. Field not Need for the best in security seen as desirable due to very short contracts Risk to one‟s safety in certain environments if known to be a party to sensitive data Frustration in being given an unclear scope. Out of depth. Is a journalism specialist qualified to “own” a mining feasibility report? Whether one will develop good working relationships with SMEs Producing not fit for purpose work Being too good and having too much work Communication… Choose a role concordant with your knowledge. SMEs still “own” the reports, writer is more sideways integrated Communication and persona Project must ensure skillset is appropriate, writer should apply for relevant roles Argument for a dedicated centre/department
  20. 20. 4. Opportunities for the Writer Opportunities Financial Expertise Project Efficiency Reputation 4. FOR THE TECHNICAL WRITER (from the project to the technical writer) Elements A lot of “last minute opportunities” Potentially high earnings if sustained over concurrent projects Learning a lot of new knowledge, new management styles, consolidating and enhancing one‟s practice Chance to micro-niche, become a micro-expert Develop long lasting great synergistic working relationships Networking and being able to use skills on other projects Become known and revered as a centre of technical communication excellence Good reputation = good flow of steady work
  21. 21. Emerging Gems  Is a writer always focused on the reader? Despite our axiom “write for the reader”  How safe is a writer? Especially in view of BP Algeria incident and others
  22. 22. Summing Up
  23. 23. Weighing In Cost of Dedicated Technical Communication Resource Inspired by: http://www.writingassist.com Cost of Ignoring Technical Communication
  24. 24. Profit Centre and Value: Evidence Snapshot Houlihan, D. (2009). Technical Communications as a Profit Center. Boston, Ma., The Aberdeen Group. On analysing data from 165 companies, leading US business researchers The Aberdeen Group found that when leveraged effectively, technical communication stands to contribute as much as a 42% increase in customer satisfaction and an associated 45% increase in product revenue. Aberdeen‟s data clearly indicates that Best-in-Class performers have found the means to leverage technical communications to influence customers‟ experiences with a marked impact on business profitability, and that whilst all too often regarded as a cost centre, technical communications and documentation are actually key profit generators. Redish, J. (2003). Adding Value as a Professional Technical Communicator. Technical Communication, 50(4), pp. 505-518. With reference to case studies in the literature, Redish found that there are numerous ways in which technical communicators “add value” which go over and above numerical measures. Thus, numbers do not tell the whole story and “process is critical”. Al Blackwell, C. (1995). A Good Installation Guide Increases User Satisfaction and Reduces Support Costs. Technical Communication, 42(1), pp. 56-60. Seminal case study at SABRE Travel Information Network showing that good documentation reduced support calls by 80% and resulted in 94% customer satisfaction.
  25. 25. Conclusions  Identified risks have counterparts as opportunities and vice versa – there is always this two-way relationship  Identified risks are usually able to be mitigated or outweighed by potential later benefits  Risks are usually relevant to the scene and thus culturally disposed (e.g. engineers worried about non-specialists messing up their work)  Writers stand a better chance of their discipline standing as a discipline if it is a profit centre i.e. develop a body of evidence that engaging good technical resources enhances the quality of project work and brings it in on time and on budget
  26. 26. Remember the Opportunities… Written Reports Strategies Decision Papers Guidelines Plans Standards Specifications Philosophies Design Basis Method Statements Procedures Scopes of Work Technical Studies Assurance and Governance Business Organisation Infrastructure Insurances Capital Cost Estimating Investment Opportunities Commissioning Communications (ICT) Construction Detailed Engineering Design Geology Health, Safety and Security Legal Manufacturing Market Analyses Operations Management / Mobilisation Operating Cost Estimating Permitting Human Resources Process Engineering Product Laboratory Testing Procurement and Supply Chain Management Quality and Integrity Management Regional / Local Content Risk Management Schedule and Planning Stakeholder Analyses Strategy Sustainable Development / Environment Testing and Inspection
  27. 27. Dedicated Technical Communication Development – Why? A case for our on-going engagement in Energy and Resources projects
  28. 28. Key Benefits of Using Technical Writers  Reader focus…  Optimise project efficiency  Drive schedules  Drive profits and add value
  29. 29. Reader Focus Technical writers focus on the reader at all times Good writing encourages the reader to carry on reading Do engineers understand the design/product the best? Specialists may be good within their field and to their peers, but are they experts at communicating outside to nonspecialists?
  30. 30. Optimise Project Efficiency It‟s about more than good writing skills: • Problem-definers, problem-solvers • Management of the writing process • A resource to find other resources • Getting the message across clearly • Appropriate detachment
  31. 31. Drive Schedules Technical writers like to write and edit, specialists generally do not Precise about concepts and terminology Mitigate tortuous language BEFORE it reaches the client Significantly reduce the backdraft/review cycle “Let each act according to their best destiny”
  32. 32. Drive Profits, Add Value  Add value to the business in multiple ways  Enhance all aspects of current operations  Reduce unnecessary support  Save money in the long run  Be more than an engineering consultancy
  33. 33. References Al Blackwell, C. (1995). A Good Installation Guide Increases User Satisfaction and Reduces Support Costs Technical Communication, 42(1), 56-60. Carr, W. and Kemmis, S. (1986). Becoming Critical. London, Falmer. Covello, V. T. and Allen, F. H. (1988). Seven Cardinal Rules of Risk Communication. Washington, DC, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. OPA87-020. Davis, R. M. (1975). Technical Writing: Its Importance in the Engineering Profession and Its Place in Engineering Curricula - A Survey of the Experience and Opinions of Prominent Engineers. Education Resources Information Center, Technical Report No. 75-5. Del Caño, A. and de la Cruz, M. (2002). Integrated Methodology for Project Risk Management. J. Constr. Eng. Manage., 128(6), 473–485. ENVSEC, 2002. Transforming Risks into Co-operation: Central Asia Ferghana – Osh – Khudjand Area. Background Paper. Glaser, B. G. and Strauss, A. L. (1967). The Discovery of Grounded Theory. New York, Aldine de Gruyter. Goldman Sachs, 2008. 190 projects to change the world, Global Investment Research, April 25. Hardisty, P.E. (2009). Environmental and Economic Sustainability, NY, NY, CRC Press. Hillson, D. (2002). Extending the risk process to manage opportunities International Journal of Project Management 20, 235-240. Houlihan, D. (2009). Technical Communications as a Profit Center. Boston, MA., The Aberdeen Group. ISO (2009). ISO 31000:2009 Risk Management: Principles and Guidelines. Geneva, ISO. Lewin, K. (1952) „Group Decisions and Social Change‟ in G. E. Swanson, T. M. Newcomb and F. E. Hartley (eds.) Readings in Social Psychology, New York, Holt. Lincoln, Y. S. and Guba, E. (1985). Naturalistic Inquiry. California, SAGE. Narayanan, M. (2010). Importance of Technical Writing in Engineering Education. American Geophysical Union, Fall Meeting 2010. Redish, J. (1995). Adding Value as a Professional Technical Communicator Technical Communication, 42, (1), pp. 26-39. Samuels, J. (2013). How out-of-date documentation can cost you your brand and your company. http://www.writingassist.com/resources/articles/out-ofdate-documentation/ WorleyParsons. (2012a). About Economics™. Retrieved 7 May 2013: http://www.worleyparsons.com/AboutUs/Economics/Pages/AboutEconomics.aspx WorleyParsons. (2012b). Sustainable Decisions. Retrieved 7 May 2013: http://www.worleyparsons.com/AboutUs/Economics/Pages/SustainableDecisions.aspx
  34. 34. Your Energetic and Resourceful Technical Author Dr Robert Illes BSc (Hons) PGCE PhD MISTC Senior Technical Author robert.illes@opal-flame.com September 2013 © Opal Flame Consultancy www.opal-flame.com All rights reserved

×