Developing Content as a Business Asset, by Cheryl Lockett Zubak

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Cheryl Lockett Zubak delivered this presentation at the September 2010 meeting of the STC - Philadelphia Metro chapter. Key questions: Is technical content a business asset? What kinds of changes are necessary to develop technical content as a business asset?

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Developing Content as a Business Asset, by Cheryl Lockett Zubak

  1. 1. A Work Write, Inc. Presentation Developing Content as a Business Asset Presented by Cheri Lockett Zubak President, Work Write, Inc. Copyright, 2010 – Work Write, Inc. All rights reserved.Copyright, 2010 – Work Write, Inc. All rights reserved.
  2. 2. Welcome!Welcome! • Cheri Lockett Zubak (call me Cheri) • President, Work Write Inc., • More than 25 years of experience as a  technical communicator (I am not old)technical communicator (I am not old) • Long‐time member of STC‐PMC ’ l d b h !• I’m glad to be here! Copyright, 2010 – Work Write, Inc. All rights reserved.
  3. 3. Some of the ideas we will coverSome of the ideas we will cover Wh t i b i t?• What is a business asset? • Can we make documentation a company asset?  Something so good we could sell it as its ownSomething so good we could sell it as its own  product? • What’s the impact of improving production?• What s the impact of improving production? • Where do we find better information, and improve  what we’ve got?what we ve got? • How can we develop “passionate users”? • What is the benefit of the third‐draft writer? Copyright, 2010 – Work Write, Inc. All rights reserved. • What is the benefit of the third‐draft writer?
  4. 4. The story begins at JournalTechThe story begins at JournalTech JournalTech Software This is a fictional company. Product: Tools for journalistsProduct: Tools for journalists and writers – new media, universities, corporations, mobile f f ll 1 2Size of group: 8 full-time, 1 or 2 consultants Publishing Platform: ContentPublishing Platform: Content management system Audience: Journalists, corporate i t W b d bil Copyright, 2010 – Work Write, Inc. All rights reserved. communicators, Web and mobile programmers
  5. 5. The scenarioThe scenario Copyright, 2010 – Work Write, Inc. All rights reserved.
  6. 6. How is your group an asset?How is your group an asset? Copyright, 2010 – Work Write, Inc. All rights reserved.
  7. 7. Brainstorm: What is an asset?Brainstorm: What is an asset? So the group managers all meet . . .  Copyright, 2010 – Work Write, Inc. All rights reserved.
  8. 8. Other groups have strong beliefsOther groups have strong beliefs “We are valuable!” Customer-Facing Social Future We are valuable! Compete Build Support Market Sell ResearchFuture Create Support Copyright, 2010 – Work Write, Inc. All rights reserved.
  9. 9. Can documentation be an asset?Can documentation be an asset?  I surfed the web looking forI surfed the web looking for information on documentation as a business asset. I didn’t find as much as I thought I wouldwould. I know STC has been working on explaining th l f t h i lthe value of technical communication. but . . . . S f th ttit dSome of the attitudes on the web about documentation are kind of disturbing. Copyright, 2010 – Work Write, Inc. All rights reserved.
  10. 10. Can documentation be an asset?Can documentation be an asset?  Example: The “funny” version Copyright, 2010 – Work Write, Inc. All rights reserved.http://www.youtube.com
  11. 11. Can documentation be an asset?Can documentation be an asset?  Example: The $%&!$$! version Copyright, 2010 – Work Write, Inc. All rights reserved.http://www.bluemango.com
  12. 12. Linda asks her lead writerLinda asks her lead writer Copyright, 2010 – Work Write, Inc. All rights reserved.
  13. 13. Content management is keyContent management is key Streamlined production L t l fid ti• Less tool fidgeting • Common content model • Redundant effort • Reuse opportunitiesReuse opportunities • Flexible output Copyright, 2010 – Work Write, Inc. All rights reserved.
  14. 14. Content management is keyContent management is key A surprise benefit of reuse analysis • Finding the “gems” Gems (out of scope) Unique content  (more difficult and  tl )costly) Shared, common content  Copyright, 2010 – Work Write, Inc. All rights reserved. Shared, common content (difficult the first time,  reduces cost of production)
  15. 15. Content management is keyContent management is key Jenny: “Our information has undercurrents of rich meaningfulundercurrents of rich, meaningful content. Those are the gems we need to mine.”need to mine. Copyright, 2010 – Work Write, Inc. All rights reserved.
  16. 16. Content management is keyContent management is key Scenario Profit Example Best practice p Problem‐solving Guideline Here’s why . . . Copyright, 2010 – Work Write, Inc. All rights reserved.
  17. 17. Content management is keyContent management is key Linda’s takeaways We went down the CMS road to do better work.We went down the CMS road to do better work. CMS production results in flexibility and economy.  The group can publish to many publications andThe group can publish to many publications and  formats. They aren’t “stuck.” The “gems” are under‐developed Is this highestThe  gems  are under‐developed. Is this highest  value content out of scope of our work? Could we  really go after the “gems”? What is the cost? Copyright, 2010 – Work Write, Inc. All rights reserved. y g g
  18. 18. Linda asks the group editorLinda asks the group editor Copyright, 2010 – Work Write, Inc. All rights reserved.
  19. 19. A rich content focus is keyA rich content focus is key Enrich the content:Enrich the content: • Understand your end game • Support the gems  through richer  content models • Follow plain language p g g standards • Rethink branding Copyright, 2010 – Work Write, Inc. All rights reserved. Rethink branding
  20. 20. A rich content focus is keyA rich content focus is key Develop content models to support gemsDevelop content models to support gems But it is also meaningful to our customers This is hard Level 3 (new models – emerging content) customers.hard work. Level 2 Model  (meets all  requirements)requirements) Level 1 Model Copyright, 2010 – Work Write, Inc. All rights reserved. Technical foundation  (the minimum)
  21. 21. A rich content focus is keyA rich content focus is key Jenny: “Why do people think Arial and Times Roman are the onlyand Times Roman are the only readable fonts?!” Copyright, 2010 – Work Write, Inc. All rights reserved.
  22. 22. A rich content focus is keyA rich content focus is key Linda’s takeaways If we’re going to go down this path, we have to g g g p , know what we’re going to create. • Which new content?Which new content? • How can we enhance existing documents? Wh t ki d f i f ti d t ?• What kinds of information products? • What should the content look like? Copyright, 2010 – Work Write, Inc. All rights reserved.
  23. 23. Linda asks the interface writerLinda asks the interface writer Copyright, 2010 – Work Write, Inc. All rights reserved.
  24. 24. Knowing the customer is keyKnowing the customer is key Customer analysis • Are we talking to the right  people? • We can’t ask the right  questions unless we have.  more customer interaction.  (“P t h t ”)(“Put up or shut up.”) • Web 2.0 tools can help us  track user conversations Copyright, 2010 – Work Write, Inc. All rights reserved. track user conversations.
  25. 25. Knowing the customer is keyKnowing the customer is key Copyright, 2010 – Work Write, Inc. All rights reserved. (and many more!)
  26. 26. Knowing the customer is keyKnowing the customer is key Tim: “While we’re at it, we should also be looking at other media.” (low-tech, high-brain examples) Copyright, 2010 – Work Write, Inc. All rights reserved.http://www.commoncraft.com
  27. 27. Knowing the customer is keyKnowing the customer is key Linda’s takeawaysLinda s takeaways She has some politicking to do in this area. Tim is  right (drat him) You can’t expect improvementright (drat him): You can’t expect improvement  while denying access and support. Sh t Ti i h f i l UXShe put Tim in charge of passing along more UX  methodologies to the group – including  researching with social networksresearching with social networks. We have plenty of online expertise, including  Flash What about other media? Copyright, 2010 – Work Write, Inc. All rights reserved. Flash. What about other media?
  28. 28. Linda calls in the tech leadLinda calls in the tech lead Copyright, 2010 – Work Write, Inc. All rights reserved.
  29. 29. Creating passionate users is keyCreating passionate users is key Customer seduction • Don’t let them have  “*&!$^” moments. • Conversations with smart  llcolleagues. • Give them the  “ki k ” t t“kick ass” content. • Become the “go first”  content Copyright, 2010 – Work Write, Inc. All rights reserved. content.
  30. 30. Creating passionate users is keyCreating passionate users is key I want to kick ass! Copyright, 2010 – Work Write, Inc. All rights reserved. http://headrush.typepad.com/
  31. 31. Creating passionate users is keyCreating passionate users is key Luis’ “go to” publisher: O’ReillyLuis   go to  publisher: O Reilly • Expert authors – indispensible contentindispensible content • Not patronizing  or boringor boring • Has a philosophy – Joseph Campbell’s Hero’s Journey, http://headfirstlabs.com/ • Media choices Copyright, 2010 – Work Write, Inc. All rights reserved. • Free (really good) webinars!
  32. 32. Creating passionate users is keyCreating passionate users is key Luis: “Our customers should love our content. They should always turn to us if they need assistance.” Copyright, 2010 – Work Write, Inc. All rights reserved.
  33. 33. What’s the result?What s the result?  Linda’s takeaways A “wow” quote from Luis: “A formula of  content does not mean a formulaic mind.” What is our content developmentWhat is our content development  philosophy? Technical content can be compellingTechnical content can be compelling. We need to be a “go to” source! Copyright, 2010 – Work Write, Inc. All rights reserved.
  34. 34. Creating third draft writers is keyCreating third draft writers is key ProfessionalsProfessionals write second, third, even fourth drafts the first timethe first time out. And then there’sAnd then there s the blasted economy. How do I get my staff to at least  the third‐draft level? Copyright, 2010 – Work Write, Inc. All rights reserved. the third draft level?
  35. 35. Creating third draft writers is keyCreating third draft writers is key As a manager, this is  support I must provide.support I must provide. • Education • Encouragement• Encouragement • Goal setting • Reward• Reward • Long‐term support Copyright, 2010 – Work Write, Inc. All rights reserved.
  36. 36. Creating third draft writers is keyCreating third draft writers is key Linda’s takeawaysLinda’s takeaways I don’t just want passionate users – I need passionate  technical communicators:technical communicators: • Technology savvy • Media savvyy • Interested in domain expertise • Embrace communication as a muscle • Creative• Creative She needs a plan to develop third‐ and fourth‐draft  writers. Copyright, 2010 – Work Write, Inc. All rights reserved.
  37. 37. Is documentation an asset?Is documentation an asset? Copyright, 2010 – Work Write, Inc. All rights reserved.
  38. 38. Give me your takeawaysGive me your takeaways Copyright, 2010 – Work Write, Inc. All rights reserved.
  39. 39. Thank you!Thank you! M th k t ll f f tt diMany thanks to all of you for attending.  Copyright, 2010 – Work Write, Inc. All rights reserved.
  40. 40. Questions?Questions? • Ask me now, or ask me later! • Web: http://www.workwriteinc.comp (go to the Resources section to download notes) • Email: clz ‐ ‐ workwriteinc.com • LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/in/workwrite • Phone: + 215 357 3453 Copyright, 2010 – Work Write, Inc. All rights reserved. • Phone: + 215.357.3453

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