Thursday, August 23, 2012

Tech Comm as ROI - August Chapter Meeting

Vice President Cheri Noble welcomes attendees to the August program meeting

Wednesday night, STC Chicago members gathered in Elk Grove Village to hear Chris Ward of Web Works  talk to us about generating ROI out of our TOCs. Get it? Here's an overview of some of his key points.

Technical documentation is the most pivotal department to the company's success. 

Chris made a key point that I found particularly insightful: technical writers need to separate procedure and strategy. Writers are usually good at keeping procedure in mind. We know what to do and how to do it. We get the job done. However, we need to rise out of the day-to-day tasks and take a closer look at the strategy surrounding our documentation solution. How are we managing our time? How are we interacting with clients? How are we listening to users' needs?

"The Evolution of Online Help" put out by ePublisher documents some primary ways to start thinking strategically.

    • Maintain number one - it's your job to make sure you have best in class documentation. Always make this your top priority. 
    • Find ways to reduce cost - but not at the risk of not listening to customer needs.
    • Always be different than your competition - know who your competitors are and stay abreast of what they're doing. Don't play catch-up. Set the pace.
    • Clearly deliver your value message - always have a mission and a goal and make sure you users know what that is. Make sure your users know what they're supposed to do from the  first page they access to the last.
    • Don't miss changes in the market - if you stay ahead of the competition and are in tune with your clients, you won't miss the changes in the market; however, you want to make sure you're able to adjust as the market does. 
If you have an open line of communication with clients and users, you're in tune with their likes and complaints. Think about it. If you invite open feedback, chances are you'll receive unabashed, uncensored opinions about your product, documentation, or both. 

Technical communication can increase profitability no matter what strategy a company decides on. 
  • Marketing - make your docs just flashy enough to get your customers' attention. 
  • Sales - understand the need and provide a solution for that need.
  • Usage - allow your documentation to influence the usage of the product and how your users behave.
Measure your success! A successful system will always have  way to measure success. 


A big thank you to Chris Ward! We'd love to have him back to talk more about ROI in tech comm and other interesting topics. 

Stay tuned for more information about our next meeting in September. 

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