Lavacon 2012: Building Profitability into your Process


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Technical content is a commodity that leads the post-capitalistic society. Technical Writers must think of themselves as Knowledge Brokers and communicate the value they provide which includes increased revenue and improved customer retention. Christopher Ward (WebWorks Software) and Emmelyn Wang (STC Austin / Hoover's Software) provide real world examples of business strategies and the procedures that can align. This presentation will help you build business cases for your company to invest in Technical Communication/Publications as a revenue generator.

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  • EW – 1 min - TechPubs becomes the most pivotal department for a company’s continued success.
  • EW – 1 min
  • EW – 1 min
  • CW – 1 min
  • Both to moderate 5 minutes
  • Define in each instance – Move entire to appendix
  • Lavacon 2012: Building Profitability into your Process

    1. 1. © 2012 – Quadralay Corporation
    2. 2. Also known as…  Building a Return on Investment through your Table of Contents  How to Build Profitability into Your Process  Technical Documentation as a Revenue Generator  Assessing Your Corporate Value AND $$$ SHOW ME THE MONEY $$$© 2012 – Quadralay Corporation
    3. 3. ROI out of your TOC TechPubs becomes the most pivotal department for a company’s continued success.© 2012 – Quadralay Corporation
    4. 4. © 2012 – Quadralay Corporation
    5. 5. What this presentation isn’t about  It’s not about cutting cost – This presentation discusses why and how you can show your value through demonstrating increased profitability.  It’s not about spreadsheets or formulas – Since every company has a financial or cost center, we’ll focus more on the how and why a company’s investment in TechPubs leads to improved internal and external customer experience which directly influences increased profitability.  It’s not about the procedures you use – It’s about why you use them. Check that your procedures align with a strategy that communicates your value.© 2012 – Quadralay Corporation
    6. 6. What this presentation is about  It’s a mindset – This presentation is designed to build a mindset. ROI’s can be show through spreadsheets and metrics, but you have to understand the concept of revenue first to set up your environment.  It’s informative – Part of a revenue mindset is to look and discover value. How valuable is the information you work with and does it extend beyond process?  It’s educational – How do you incorporate a business strategy into a work flow? How do you execute this?  It’s challenging – You have to move out of your comfort zone to make it happen. The rewards can be great!  It’s an evolution – Technical Writers move into Knowledge Brokers.© 2012 – Quadralay Corporation
    7. 7. So, why listen to us? Christopher Ward Emmelyn Wang Director of Sales, WebWorks President, STC Austin 4 years of military service in Sr. Technical Writer Consultant, Army Intelligence High Tech Companies  Taught to separate Adjunct Professor, procedure from strategy Austin Community College and to look at both differently  Over 10 years of technical communication (TC) 3 Years with Dell Computers experience across industries. Impact includes communicating  Applied analysis the value of quality teamwork, experience to business the work, and most importantly, world the process.  Over 5 years of experience recruiting, hiring, training, and building teams both in the corporate world and for non- profits.© 2012 – Quadralay Corporation
    8. 8. Why are WebWorks and STC Austin partnering? Show how and why TC professionals can make a critical difference that is measurable in the company’s overall profitability. Why is it important that you communicate the value of your work to help them move away from just focusing on cost reduction.  WebWorks was founded 20 years ago and  Every department has the same goals. innovates and empowers TC professionals Externally to improve the customer to meet their clients needs. experience, internally it is to build value for the company.  The Society for Technical Communication is an international non-profit that serves  Customers include both people internal to TC professionals in academia and in the organization as well as customers industry from a grassroots level. outside of the organization—basically anyone who is using the information you manage.© 2012 – Quadralay Corporation
    9. 9. Why Technical Writers need to evolve into Knowledge Brokers …knowledge is now, and will be, the basic economic resource; value is created via productivity and innovation. The leading social groups will be knowledge workers, "who know how to allocate knowledge to productive use," and "practically all of these knowledge people will be employed in organizations" (p.8). So "the economic challenge of the post-capitalist society will therefore be the productivity of knowledge work and the knowledge worker‖ Clay Spinuzzis blogpost about post capitalistic society© 2012 – Quadralay Corporation
    10. 10. Consider this… The integrity of the content you provide as well as the accessibility and searchability of that content sits at the core value of your business model. These three factors positively impact a company’s profitability.  ―According to The Gartner Group, poor data quality negatively impacts a company’s bottom line by an average of $8.2 million annually in operational inefficiencies, lost sales and unrealized new opportunities.  In addition, a Forrester research study reveals that only 12 percent of companies actually use customer intelligence to drive key business functions and corporate strategy. That means that 88 percent are putting up with the waste, inefficiencies and lost opportunities that dirty data creates. Companies that commit to data quality use their knowledge of customers and prospects to maximize top-line and bottom-line results.‖ – White paper "Gaining the Data Edge: How ongoing data maintenance spurs growth" August 2012© 2012 – Quadralay Corporation
    11. 11. Why Start with Business Strategy?  ―The Evolution of Online Help‖ – white paper on help systems and how they are evolving to meet the need of the end user.  Short follow up survey asking technical communicators what the primary objectives of their technical writing roles were: – 95% believed that technical communication is in need of evolution – 89% have seen change in technical communication throughout their career – Top objective as a technical communicator: • 49% weighed more heavily on being user friendly • 35% said to provide accurate information • 13% put importance on strategic business goals – of the 13% almost all were tenured technical writers of more than 10 years, with only two falling in the 6 to 10 years of experience range© 2012 – Quadralay Corporation
    12. 12. Why Start with Business Strategy?© 2012 – Quadralay Corporation
    13. 13. Why Procedures Must Align with Strategy The principle without the technique is useless. The technique without the principle is dangerous. – George Ohsawa Strategy/Principle WHY Reason: 1. Ayurvedic and Macrobiotic dietary principles to increase energy, stamina, and promote natural healing. 2. Run marathon without injury. Continuous running causes acute and long-term injuries. Procedures/Technique HOW Method: 1. Prepare vegan meals + focus on raw fruits and veggies, balance pH. 2. Jeff Galloway’s method to slowly build up mileage by adding in walk breaks.© 2012 – Quadralay Corporation
    14. 14. In the field© 2012 – Quadralay Corporation
    15. 15. In the field with the new procedure© 2012 – Quadralay Corporation
    16. 16. Dogfooding How do I discover a strategy that makes sense for my procedure and vice versa?  Start small.  Find a venue to try out your ideas.  Set up a pilot program to understand how people, processes, and content fit together.  Value can be found in slight changes to interactions.  Continually think about the Big Picture. Yes, this does sound Agile…© 2012 – Quadralay Corporation
    17. 17. Porter’s General Strategies – apply to any company in any industry Strategy Examples  Cost Leadership – Can you maintain number one? – Continuously find ways of reducing Cost – Too focused on cutting cost and cant react to customers changing needs© 2012 – Quadralay Corporation
    18. 18. Porter’s General Strategies – apply to any company in any industry Strategy Examples  Differentiation Strategy – Have to always be different from the competition (ecosystem) – Have to be able to clearly deliver your value message – Focusing efforts on a feature that does not provide value to the market© 2012 – Quadralay Corporation
    19. 19. Porter’s General Strategies – apply to any company in any industry Strategy Examples  Focus Strategy – Company focuses on a niche market and develops products for that market only – Can be either Differentiation, or Cost Leadership with focus on that niche market – Same pitfalls of other strategy as well as missing the changes in the market© 2012 – Quadralay Corporation
    20. 20. Technical Documentation can increase profitability no matter what strategy a company decides on!© 2012 – Quadralay Corporation
    21. 21. What does this mean for us?  Audience Poll  We must not get lost in our role alone. We must learn how to keep a 30,000 foot view.  Yes, this means that you will need to learn how to sell by properly scoping your work and building a business case for the value of your work. Once you’ve done your legwork, speak with authority and be confident about the value of your work. You can’t ignore this, however…  Just like choosing the red or blue pill doesn’t change the fact that ―the matrix‖ still exists.  The revenue mindset is a choice.© 2012 – Quadralay Corporation
    22. 22. Technical content becomes pivotal to a company’s success. How? By supporting the overall business strategy and retaining customers. PRE-SALES Everything from the company website to architecture/manufacturing specs and proof of concepts (POC) to marketing collateral, technical documentation is what sales teams turn to to support their revenue generating endeavors. Semiconductors – An advanced data brief may be the only POC a marketer has to get his/her chip built into an OEM board. Consumers – often look at technical documentation to influence purchasing behavior. POST SALES Customer service and support teams turn to technical documentation for answers to follow through on sales. MAINTAINING CUSTOMER RELATIONS AND REFERRALS Customers keep turning back to companies that provide accurate, accessible, searchable information and a responsive customer experience.© 2012 – Quadralay Corporation
    23. 23. Total Customer Experience Marketing – Addresses a specific audience, but not a specific problem. Just flashy enough to get someone’s attention and get out in front of someone. Total Customer Experience. Sales – Drill down to needs specific to the customer’s environment and provide a solution to those needs. Usage – 90% of the customer’s experience and responsible for promoting product value and customer loyalty to increase repeat business. During this phase of the process Help Documentation is the first opportunity a business will have to influence the customer and try to increase loyalty, product value and cut down on Customer Defection.© 2012 – Quadralay Corporation
    24. 24. What Kind of Problem is Customer Defection?  The Harvard Business Review stated that the average business loses 50% of their customers every five years.  61% of consumers take their business to a competitor when they end a business relationship.  RightNow Technologies says 73% of customers leave because they are dissatisfied with customer service, but the company losing the customer thinks only 21% leave because of customer service.© 2012 – Quadralay Corporation
    25. 25. What are the Benefits of Retaining Customers?  Acquiring new customers can cost as much as 5 times more than satisfying and retaining current customers.  A 2% increase in customer retention has the same effect as decreasing costs by 10%.  Reducing customer defection rate by 5% can increase profitability anywhere from 25% to 125% depending on the industry.© 2012 – Quadralay Corporation
    26. 26. Linchpin Seth Godin says...  The hard work is being brave enough to make a difference.  Until you name, recognize, and deal with the resistance (of what feels threatening, risky, or generous), you will stay frustrated.  Indispensable linchpins are not waiting for instructions, but instead, figuring out what do next. If you have a job where someone tells you what to do next, youve just given up the chance to create value.  If value is created by what you choose to do...deciding to overcome the anxiety (false fear) associated with leading and connecting is the choice that few are willing to make. Linchpins dont work in a vacuum. Your personality and attitude are more important than the actual work product you create, because indispensable work is work that is connected to others.© 2012 – Quadralay Corporation
    27. 27. Do you follow me so far?  Technical Documentation becomes pivotal to a company’s success through supporting the overall business strategy and retaining customers  You have to have the proper workflow to do this  The proper workflow will allow for analysis of information, continuous improvement and customer involvement© 2012 – Quadralay Corporation
    28. 28. © 2012 – Quadralay Corporation
    29. 29. Measure your Success!  A successful system will always have a way to measure success. SMART Goals: Specific Measurable Attainable Relevant Time-bound  Historical data wins it for the long haul, so keep records! Quantify and Qualify.  Brag, Brag, Brag and when you are done brag some more.  Measure yourself through feedback mechanisms Example: Software Advice.© 2012 – Quadralay Corporation
    30. 30. Likes • Comments How to Measure • Shares • Clicks ROI through Social Channels Follows • Retweets ―The Death of SEO: The Rise of • Mentions Social, PR, and Real Content‖ • Favorites – Forbes Views • Comments • Shares/Likes rogue/2012/07/20/the-death-of- • Connections seo-the-rise-of-social-pr-and- real-content/ Views • Subscribe • Comments • Favorites • Promoted Blog Views • Comments • Link Love • Shares • RSS Feed Subscriptions© 2012 – Quadralay Corporation
    31. 31. Example of Increased End User Experience Through Analytics Impact graph showing online help system deployed using WebWorks Reverb Help Format showing a nearly 100% increase in page views over company’s Wiki documentation and nearly 400% increase over traditional online html help system over six week period. Reverb Help included Google Search integration and consideration for search engine performance, including page specific parameters.© 2012 – Quadralay Corporation
    32. 32. In Closing  Today, Technical Publications becomes the most pivotal department in a company’s Success  Technical Documentation can increase profitability no matter what strategy the company decides on, with the proper workflow and the mindset of a KNOWLEDGE BROKER.  Measure your success.  It’s your choice…© 2012 – Quadralay Corporation
    33. 33. Follow Me Christopher Ward Emmelyn Wang Email address: Email address: LinkedIn: Twitter: @WebWorksChris Facebook: Twitter: @LifeWingmate Chris Google+: Company Facebook: Facebook: her. My Blog: Corporate Blog: elyn© 2012 – Quadralay Corporation
    34. 34. Question & Answer© 2012 – Quadralay Corporation
    35. 35. Appendix© 2012 – Quadralay Corporation
    36. 36. Presentation Terms  Techpubs – technical documentation departments.  Technical Documentation – content that has already been vetted to deliver the intended message.  Technical Documentation Process – The Workflow that includes processes and procedures to gather, develop and deliver Technical Documentation.  Technical Content – the core technical content before and or after a tech writer curates/publishes.  Information – all communications produced and collected by a company, (verbal and non- verbal) for the purpose of technical content.  Content Creation – the process of turning information in to technical content.  Pre-Publishing – the process of determining how to display content on a specific medium.  Publishing – delivering content to the intended user.  Next Slide – leaving this slide and finally starting the presentation with the topic of Business Strategy.© 2012 – Quadralay Corporation
    37. 37. Posted the results and asked Why Posted the results to Technical Writing World and here were some comments:  ―I think that it takes time for new technical writers to understand how their day-to-day work impacts business goals, and to make the connections necessary to be in the loop regarding those goals. Veterans are more likely to be in management positions where they must focus directly on budgets, politics, and the interests of the corporation as a whole. If we flip this on its head, perhaps the data indicates that technical writers can further their careers by focusing more on strategic goals.‖  What your results perhaps show is the more experienced tech writers are more likely to get that, but the fact that that number is only 13% is actually pretty terrifying for the future of the profession. If it wants to stay relevant, tech pubs has to start thinking of itself as a business process. strategy-even© 2012 – Quadralay Corporation
    38. 38. © 2012 – Quadralay Corporation
    39. 39. From ITJobCafe with updated statistics that support Dr. ClaySpinuzzis knowledge worker ideas in a post-capitalisticsociety:Big Data to Create 1.9M Jobs in U.S. by 2015 But there aren’t enough skilled people to fill the jobs, say Gartner analyst. There were a lot of reasons for Gartner researchers to give a gloomy economic outlook at its Symposium/ITxpo conference, especially after the latest round of quarterly reports from Intel, IBM and others. But the picture painted by Peter Sondergaard, Gartners head of research, was upbeat in a surprising way. Gartner isnt revising its global IT growth forecast significantly, which remains down from the initial expectations for this year. But Garters relatively flat revenue forecast isnt being carried over to jobs, at least in one sector of IT: big data. Big data, which refers to data collected and analyzed from every imaginable source, is becoming an engine of job creation as businesses discover ways to turn data into revenue, says Gartner. By 2015, it is expected to create 4.4 million IT jobs globally, of which 1.9 million will be in the U.S. Applying an economic multiplier to those jobs, Gartner expects that each big data IT job added to the economy will create employment for three more people outside the tech industry in the U.S., adding six million jobs to the economy. Thats the kind of estimate that presidential candidates, if they focused on ITs impact on the economy instead of fossil fuel fracking and pipelines, might jump on. But Sondergaards estimate included a caveat - namely, that theres a shortage of skilled workers. (continued on next slide)© 2012 – Quadralay Corporation
    40. 40. ...continued(…continued from previous slide)Only a third of the big data jobs will be filled. There is not enough talent in the industry, said Sondergaard. [Education] is failing us. Griff Law, the CTO of Northeast Georgia Health System, said it is difficult to fill data analytics jobs, and IT jobs in general. From a healthcare perspective, I can certainly see the demand, said Law, noting that his company has had 15 open positions for the last six months. About six of those jobs involve data analytics, whether as business analysts who can use BI and big data analytics tools or clinical analysts, who, in addition to IT skills, are helped by data skills. The company also has openings requiring other types of IT skills, including network engineers. This push by businesses to make money from their digitizing efforts will lead to new types of jobs in the next few years, specifically, chief digital officers.(continued on next slide…)© 2012 – Quadralay Corporation
    41. 41. ...continued(…continued from previous slide)By 2015, Gartner predicts that 25% of organizations will have a chief digital officer. Overall, Gartner expects IT spending to rise to $3.7 trillion worldwide next year, a 3.8% increase over this year. But that growth projection has been a moving target, especially with major vendors facing an uncertain economy. The clearest indication of how that uncertainty weighs on companies came not from the IT sector, but from McDonalds Corp. CEO, Don Thompson. When the economic crisis began in 2008, few people thought the environment would still be as uncertain and fragile as it is today, said Thompson, according to a transcript of his remarks on Seeking Alpha. It is clear however that this operating environment is the new normal, he said. If people arent buying $1 fries, will their appetite for electronics suffer as well? IBM cited an overall slowdown in consumer spending in its most recent earnings report. In the third quarter, IBM generated $24.7 billion in revenue, down 5% from the same quarter in 2011. Meanwhile, Intel reported a $2.97 billion profit in its latest quarter, compared to $3.47 billion in the same quarter last year. Intel CEO Paul Otellini blamed the economy. AMD also noted economic concerns last week when it said it was laying off 1,800 of its 11,813 employees. The PC industry is going through a period of very significant change that is impacting both the ecosystem and AMD, CEO Rory Read said in a statement. Still, Gartner says consumer demand for tech devices continues to rise. In 1980, consumers spent less than 1% of their discretionary budget on technology; its about 3.5%.(Courtesy: Patrick Thibodeau Computerworld)© 2012 – Quadralay Corporation
    42. 42. Image Credits Be Social Collaboration is everything Crossword Center for Corporate Leadership: Boston College Carroll School of Management collaboration/ Dont Give Up Trying to Find Your Way... Red Pill, Blue Pill What Makes Good Information Design?© 2012 – Quadralay Corporation