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					        Flipping Hats Quickly
Managing Multiple Roles as Writers
                 -- P.V. Sairaj, Cognizant
In this Presentation

   Explore our current roles as Technical
   What can we change for the better
   Explore our current compulsions to play
    multiple roles
   Provide tips for beginners to handle
   Provide tips to experts
In this Presentation

      Wearing different hats as   Wearing different hats as

     Technical Writer             Communicator
As Technical Writer – The Hats

                        1. Understand
 Traditional Roles
                           requirements and
                           plan project
                        2. Develop
                        3. Review
                        4. Deliver
Traditional Role
 Activities      Thought Pattern
 Project Start      I’ve got another User Manual to write.

 Requirements       Content Structure
 Gathering          Elements
                    Content coverage
                    Time
 Development        Write, write, write
                    Information gaps
                    Time shortage
                    Writer’s block
 Review/Edit      Does my writing make sense?
                  Have I covered all content?
 Deliver          Phew! Let’s hope the client/manager likes it.
                  Let’s hope they do not discover these issues
Traditional Role - Pitfalls

     Dominated by the writer in you
     Poor or incomplete content
     Less effectiveness
     Less quality

   Extensive application content; Limited
    business content
As Technical Writer – The Hats

   Ideal Roles
                         1. Research
             User        2. Understand
                            requirements and
            Writer          plan project
       Reviewer/Editor   3. Develop
                         4. Review
                         5. Deliver
As Technical Writer – The Hats
                       Hat: I am a user. How do I use
 Ideal Roles               this system? (Explore Mode)

          User         1.   Become a user
                       2.   Identify a persona to
         Writer             emulate
                       3.   Identify responsibilities
                       4.   Play with application
                       5.   Make notes as required

                          Try every screen and field
                          Consciously keep the writer
                           in you away
As Technical Writer – The Hats
                       Hat: I am a writer. How do I explain to
 Ideal Roles                 users how to use this system?
                             (Teaching Mode)

                              Adopt a four-step approach
                               to document development
         Writer            –     Get inputs
                           –     Develop content
     Reviewer/Editor       –     Clarify information gaps
                           –     Complete documentation

                          Write for the persona you
As Technical Writer – The Hats
                       Hat: Let me tear this document apart in
                            terms of content, language,
 Ideal Roles
                            functionality (Critical Mode)

          User         1.   Perform thorough review of
         Writer        2.   Conduct usability testing
        Manager            Be open to find as many errors as
                           Go by intuition. If you sense
                            something wrong, stop and relook
                           Do not ignore or bypass issues
As Technical Writer – The Hats
                       Hat: I have to meet expectations and
                             deliver quality (Control Mode)
 Ideal Roles

                       1.       Define scope, schedule
                       2.       Manage expectations
         Writer        3.       Establish communication
                       4.       Monitor Project
     Reviewer/Editor              Green, Yellow, Red signals

        Manager        Tips
                               Work expands to fit the time you
                               Proper planning is 1/3 the work
Value Proposition
   Experience the user’s role before documentation
     –   Better understanding of application and business purpose
     –   More effective documentation
     –   More useful for end-users
     –   More value to customers
   Higher quality output
     – More effective review and management
     – Better material
   Focused approach to audience analysis,
    development, and review
   Professional approach to project management
General Communication
     Technical Writer
     Web Master
     Content Architect
     Instructional Designer
     Proposal Reviewer
     Media Relations Manager
     Copy Writer
     Marketing Communications
     Newsletter Publisher
     E-mail writer
     Internal Documents
      Reviewer                   Wearing different hats as
     Company Editor             Communicator
     …………
General Communication
       Should we do this?         Why shouldn’t we?
     Not our responsibility    Who else can?
     Lost focus                Why not in allied areas:
     Not core competence        e-Learning, web
     Jack of all trades         development, content
                                Provides breadth of
General Communication
  Three step approach to success          (a beginner’s

      Do It          Research and Learn      Deliver

  A one-step approach
  (an Expert’s Guide)

  Just flip your thinking hat
  quickly and get going…
A Beginner’s Guide
         Do It   Research and Learn        Deliver

  The Showstoppers                    The Winners
   Fear – Can I do it?                Just do it
   Low confidence                     Risk-taking, bold
   Attitude                           Strong self-
   Uncertainty                         confidence
                                       Quick learners
A Beginner’s Guide
           Do It        Research and Learn        Deliver

  The “EASE” theory for successful writing
   Explore requirements
     – What is expected?
     – Who are the audience?
     – What does the audience expect
   Analyze concepts
     – What are the concepts behind this style of writing?
     – What are the common guidelines
     – What has been the trend?
   Study samples
     – Are there samples I can see?
     – What are the common characteristics?
     – How do they map to the concepts?
   Emulate
     – Pattern your work on a good sample
A Beginner’s Guide
         Do It   Research and Learn   Deliver

  The important principle of “selling”
   Write a positive and confident message with
    your delivery
   Explain why you did things a particular way
   Make a strong selling statement
   Particularly important for an unknown
An Expert’s Guide
              User Documentation

   Person                          Employee
An Expert’s Guide – The Mindshift

   Why consciously mindshift?
     – Retain mood, tone, audience profile of one requirement
     – Need to erase that picture and create a new frame for the new
     – Create the required environment in our mind
     – Limited time for natural mind change
   Mindshift approach
     –   What is the purpose and goal?
     –   What mood should I be in?
     –   What is the user requirement and expectation?
     –   How should I communicate – tone, language?
Beginner – Expert Transition

              ---------Beginner/Expertise ------

  As Technical Writer
    –   Do not be influenced by the writer’s role alone
    –   Wear different hats: User, Writer, Reviewer, Manager
    –   The user role will give a good perspective of application usage
    –   The managers role will help control and monitor project better
  In General Communication
    – Beginners
         •   Break the fear barrier. Grow the “Can do” attitude
         •   Prepare yourself well when exploring unknown areas
         •   Set right expectations
         •   Sell your output
    – Experts
         • Consciously adopt “switch hat” method
         • Move ahead from creation to innovation
Thank You

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