1. GETTING AHEAD AS A LONE AUTHOR
5 BEST PRACTICES
22 September 2010
2. WHO AM I AND WHAT DO I KNOW ?
1988 – Technical writer
2001 – 2008 Employed lone writer
2008 – Senior Technical Writer, SimCorp
Coach, trainer, mentor
M.A. in American Studies
3. GETTING AHEAD AS A LONE WRITER?
Carl Rakeman: “Pony Express” http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/
4. GETTING AHEAD AS A LONE WRITER
Learn to run the job (more) like a business
5 best practices
5. 1. HOW TO BUY YOURSELF TIME
Eliminate internal inefficiencies.
Move to(wards) topic-based authoring.
Consider temporary skimping.
Fight external inefficiencies.
Resist or budget time-consuming tasks, such as testing.
Plan and schedule documentation.
Plunder time-saving methods and tools.
► Take charge of your time and your schedule.
6. 2. HOW TO OPTIMIZE YOUR SKILLS
Assess and emphasize your (relative) strengths.
Add people skills.
Collaborate with colleagues and trade skills.
► Do what you do best and collaborate.
7. 3. HOW TO TREAT DOC AS A BUSINESS
Estimate your documentation efforts.
Account for efforts, past and future.
Estimate writing, reviewing, editing by topic.
Use past efforts, averages and experience.
Embrace cost metrics.
Resist seductive, but misleading metrics.
Attribute efforts and costs to specific developments.
Turn topic reuse into a corporate asset.
► “You can’t control what you can’t measure.”
- Tom DeMarco
8. 4. HOW TO MAKE DOCUMENTATION AN ASSET
Serve the customer, not the product or company.
Address user tasks, not product features or intentions.
Become the users’ advocate.
Verify with surveys and user analysis.
9. 4. HOW TO MAKE DOCUMENTATION AN ASSET
Creating passionate users
10. 5. HOW TO COLLABORATE
Provide a clear interface
To your sources: Engineers, developers, SMEs
To stakeholders: Customer service, product managers, etc.
To your manager
Stand up for documentation and yourself.
… and don't whine about language, grammar, etc.
► Learn from your topics: Collaborate!
11. GETTING AHEAD AS A LONE WRITER
1. Buy Yourself Time
2. Optimize Your Skills
3. Treat Documentation as a Business
4. Make Documentation an Asset
12. KEEP IN TOUCH!
I blog at http://kaiweber.wordpress.com/
I tweet at @techwriterkai