We’re the assembly line

William Hart-Davidson’s article on content management was the most readable of our texts this week. Honestly, I didn’t really understand the first two, or when I thought I did, then I read more and completely lost what I had grasped. But Hart-Davidson’s piece was surprisingly a piece that followed technical communication practices and actually made sense (sidebar: anyone else disillusioned by how we’re reading articles by renowned experts about technical communication, the art of talking to users in the layman’s terms, only it’s all garbled academia? And yes, I know the audience is also academics; I just see the irony).

But good on Hart-Davidson when he said that “companies live and die based on how well they communicate” (p.135). And how he says communication is “why they [companies] operate” (p. 135). Yes, please! The challenges he outlines when it comes to a successful content management system are ones that I encounter daily at work.

While we have a network (two, actually) and shared folders, we do not have a company-wide protocol set in place to find the information needed. My day has at least one request for me to email a document to someone that is already on the shared drive. There is no documentation in place to determine where different content pieces have been placed (online, different ad pieces, etc.), and after reading the article, my takeaway is to organize our assembly line, to make it more efficient so that we can be a better end product for consumers.

Posted on October 5, 2014, in Uncategorized and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.

  1. Carolyn,

    Good post! I think the problem of having a content review process is something that is both a technical and departmental challenge. Having a tracking system that works across all departments would be ideal, but is not often a reality. Maybe this is due to the fact that separate departments have unspoken systems that would need to be identified and formalized, or maybe it is just that the need to break down data silos has not reached a critical point.

    Whatever the reason, I agree that tracking content will lead to better deliverables for the consumer, which is (or should be) the end goal anyway!

  2. Here is an article that was published today that highlights some of the best practices on communicating guidelines on how to use a CMS.

    http://alistapart.com/article/training-the-cms

    Even if your company doesn’t have a traditional Web CMS (maybe you have a versioning and revision control system or even just folders on a network drive), you may be able to implement some of these guidelines so that you are no longer the main contact person when someone at your company needs to locate a document.

    Hope this helps!

  3. Your comment about irony within our readings is priceless. I have also found a few long winded articles that are neither clear nor concise. Your point of how a company treats information within itself seems to be more common than one thinks. Just curious, do you have the power to mandate how your company shares information, or would you at least have the ability to make a formal presentation with templates or a guideline to help move your company towards a user friendly way of sharing information? I have found that usually one team or department comes to terms on a common way to label, store, and retrieve information, but it is very difficult to create a standard throughout the company.

  4. natashajmceachin

    Great post, I loved how you mentioned the art of technical writing being communicating in layman’s terms while this text is hardly readable. I have been thinking the EXACT same thing!

  5. I don’t know what you ever decided on with Julie for your field project, but since the goal of those is to provide solutions or best practices documents for “real world workplace problems,” I wonder if you can propose creating official “assembly line” documentation for the problems you’ve encountered with the content.

  6. You have definitely said one of the things that have been circling in the back of my head for some time now: technical communication academic writing is far too garbled. I understand the importance of academic writing, but I never understood why it always has to be so complicated and completely not “user-friendly.”

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