Author Archives: lihill630
The topic I choose for my final paper related to Objectives 1, 2 and 5. In this paper I examined the aspects of selecting, creating, and maintaining a Knowledge Management System. This relates to the course objectives 1, 2 and 5 in the following ways:
Objective 1 relates to the way new digital technologies affect writing, specifically technical and professional communication. Most writing being completed in the Knowledge Management System will be technical writing. It will be related to how to perform certain tasks and how specific pieces of functionality work.
Objective 2 relates to the way digital technologies will change the technical writing workplace. With the implementation of a new Knowledge Management System, this changes the way we write based on the types of text the new system can handle.
Objective 5 relates to the consequences of these new technologies for writing, managing and distributing information/knowledge to online audiences. My experience with Knowledge Managements systems is that each has a customer facing option. We create content on our side and then it is available for our customers to use when and where they have the time.
Knowledge Management Systems are an important piece of a software knowledge transfer. A knowledge management systems allows software development/support staff to create content for dissemination to the internal customers and/or customer base. This report provides an overview of things to consider when looking at selecting, creating and maintaining a knowledge management system. Also included is a compare/contrast of Sansio’s current Knowledge Management System to Parature, the lead in what is being selected to replace it.
As could be seen throughout my blog posting, I had a hard time with this class. It took a while for me to get the AHA Moment that really connected it all for me. I think part of my issue was I was looking at this as a Social Media class and the more I thought about it, the more I knew Social Media was not going to be used in my job. It took a while for me to break out of the Social Media and think about it as Digital Communication, which includes a lot of what I do in my job.
I ended up really enjoying this class and can’t wait to find a way to apply what I learned to my job.
Technical Writing is what I like to do. Many people do not understand what I do, but I found this really neat image describing it.
What does this image have to do with this weeks reading? Not much I just wanted to show this neat graphic.
This week the topic was audience. Who is our audience and how to we make sure that we are writing to this audience. I started my job at Sansio in 2002. In 2004 I started working in our Solution Center (Call Center), by 2005 I was working with the in house trainer and maintaining the training powerpoint. Throughout my use of the powerpoint and through my stint as Implementation Coordinator, this one powerpoint turned into 3 with an average of 300 slides a piece.In addition, the training manager had me create checklists to support the learning. The maintenance of these materials was very time consuming, but still was not the main portion of my job. When I was promoted to QA Specialist in 2007 training was changed to be online training and the Business Analysts who took over training no longer used the PowerPoint. At that time I no longer did technical writing. It wasn’t until I took my Technical Writing Practiuum in 2010 that I started writing. My supervisor found that I was good at it and I have been creating/updating User Guide Pages, creating Release Notes and updating other user materials.
Its always important to understand our audience. I have special knowledge of our audience because of my experience with our Solution Center and as Implementation Coordinator. I spent years talking to customers during and after their initial training of HomeSolutions. The image below gives a nice description of what I should be thinking about what I start my writing.
Analysis – HomeSolutions Users
Understanding – When I write, I assume the person has a basic knowledge of HomeSolutions and the terms that we use.
Demographics – Most HomeSolutions users are women around 40 and most do not have a formal degree. There is the occasional user who is a nurse with an advanced degree.
Interest – They are reading the document because they want to know how to use a specific piece of the product.
Environment – The document will be viewed in the users office, most likely online within the application.
Needs – They need to know how to use a piece of the application
Customization – Needs may be to provide an overall description of the page/features that they will be accessing.
Expectations – The ability to use the piece/feature in the future without having to reference the educational resource again.
When it comes to the other product I write for, RevNet, I take a little different approach. The RevNet product is new to everyone. The product has only been around for a little over a year, so everyone who uses this product is brand new. I spend more time on this product line documenting definitions of words and places within the application.
I sometimes worry that I am not writing to the exact needs of the audience. We do not get a lot of feedback on our writing, even by internal customers, and I have not been able to find the time to make sure I get usability testing done to make sure. One thing that would probably help would be creating a persona. A Persona is a very detailed description, including name, age and picture, of a person who will be using the resource being created. In Spilka’s book, Chapter 8 Addressing Audiences in a Digital Age by Ann M Blakeslee they also describe using the persona with the development staff so that they have a better understanding of who they are developing for. One reason I may not do a persona is that I feel I have a very good understanding of our audience because of my experience with our customers in the Solution Center.
How important are personas to writing for an audience? Do I really need to do them, since I have first hand experience with them in the past?
I like the definition of Content Management that Spilka provides in Chapter 5. Content Management is a set of practices for the handling of information, including how it is created, stored, retrieved, formatted and styled for delivery. It usually has the following four goals: Distribute tasks and responsibilities among members, Author and store content that enable multiple-audience adaptation, Author and store content to permit multiple output and Author and store content that allow for reuse by multiple organizations. Spilka also recommends creating CM as a separate discipline and teach to other technical communicators (Spilka, 2010, pgs 130-131). This definition really is what I do on a daily basis in my current position of QA Specialist, who is also responsible for the majority of customer educational resources for our Home Care product line.
Where I work currently, we use a few different content management systems, most of which were created by in-house staff for our use. The one that looks the most like this definition is our SIETE product. This is the product that we use to track the tasks being completed by the developers, that guide our release notes and user guides, as well as our Knowledge Base which houses the release notes, user guides and other customer-facing educational resources. I was not included in any of the design aspects of this product, it does work nicely for our customers.
The image above is an example of our customer facing portion of SIETE. This is accessed through the application and the content visible on the right-hand side is content specific based on the page the accessed the Help from. In addition, there are additional materials that the user may find useful based on this page. It would include FAQs, User Guide Pages and Videos that were created. This can be updated by our staff immediately if issus or corrections need to be made. This page really encompasses goals 2, 3, and 4. It allows for multiple audience adaptation, permit multiple outputs (html, videos) and reuse within and across organizations.
According to Chapter 4, we, as technical communicators, organize the written communication for future use (Spilka, 2010, pg 123). This SIETE product does assist with this. The search feature within the Customer Facing Knowledge Base will search content and tags that are added to each item. At this time tags need to be manually managed on each task, but helps with searching when the customer may not know the correct term. We can add additional terms that customer might use, even if it does not match the terminology that we use.
The image above shows that Goal 1 can also be used in our SIETE Application. There is a module called Project that has Projects, Outlines and Tasks. Each task can be assigned to a specific person and it can detail what needs to be done, when it should be done and what other assets are needed to complete the task. Often times I will spend a day or two reviewing the User Guide for changes that need to be made. Simple changes will be made immediately, but longer changes will get a task. Once all tasks are assigned I, or my supervisor, can set due dates, priorities and estimate the time to complete. As time allows, these are updated and immediately available for our customers.