Re: Plan Your Dream Department Tools

Subject: Re: Plan Your Dream Department Tools
From: "Connie Giordano" <connie -at- therightwordz -dot- com>
To: "Bill Swallow" <techcommdood -at- gmail -dot- com>, "Nancy Allison" <maker -at- verizon -dot- net>
Date: Tue, 20 Jul 2010 15:54:58 -0500

I'd second that. You need to ask some questions that are far more basic to
your functioning that whether you need the latest version of Framemaker.

How many staffers in the department? What are their skill levels? Do they
have specialties? What are the company plans for new product development
or legacy product retirement? How will that affect your resources (budget
and personnel) next year and in five years? What are release cycles for the
products?

What kind of users are you delivering information to? Are they shift
workers with GED's or post-grad analysts at a desk all day? Will they
learn faster, more thoroughly etc., if they have simulations, ginormous
manuals, or application tooltips? Are they buying the product themselves,
or being told to use it for their jobs? Are they computer proficient, or do
they ask what a mouse is?

The tools I needed for telecom data center / application support are very
different than the ones I needed for back office trading systems
administrators, which were different than the ones I needed to build KB
articles for call center agents. I need to know the business, the customer
decision-makers and the users before I can begin to suggest what forms the
user support should take, and then what tools are suited to producing those
forms.

Connie P. Giordano
The Right Words
Communications & Information Design
(704) 957-8450 (cell)

www.therightwords.com
"It's kind of fun to do the impossible." - Walt Disney


-------Original Message-------
From: Bill Swallow
To: Nancy Allison
Cc: techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
Subject: Re: Plan Your Dream Department Tools
Sent: 20 Jul '10 14:15

I'd choose none at this point. First I'd detail the docs group's
needs. Your list below isn't a list of needs, it's a list of
deliverables, and a slew of tools can be used to create them. Assess
your needs first, then evaluate tools based on those needs.

On Tue, Jul 20, 2010 at 2:28 PM, Nancy Allison <[LINK:
http://mbox.server274.com/compose -dot- php?to=maker -at- verizon -dot- net]
maker -at- verizon -dot- net> wrote:
> After years of working in bare-bones startups (where the tools were
Microsoft Word, Microsoft Word, and Microsoft Word), I'm now being asked to
recommend tools for a techpubs group. I'd like your thoughts on this.
>
> Assume that you've been hired into a department that is using FrameMaker
7.2 in Windows XP, no graphics tool other than MS Paint, no screencam tool,
and no online help tool other than the WebWorks Publisher that came with
FrameMaker, and the HTML Help workshop.
>
> This doc group is undergoing radical changes and there's now lots of room
for innovation. In the future, you expect to create:
>
> --PDFs for print manuals
> --Tailored online help (NOT just the manuals spewed into HTML)
> --Interactive web-based troubleshooting tools
> --Interactive web-based quizzes and surveys
> --Videos
> --Software demos created using webcams, sound files, and other media
>
> It's a small company and there is not much documentation overlap between
products, so there isn't a need for a powerful content management system.
The company is not going to move into XML any time soon. However, every
document is translated into roughly a dozen languages.
>
> You've been given a free hand to recommend the department's new software
tool set. What would you choose?
>

--
Bill Swallow

Twitter: @techcommdood
Blog: [LINK: http://techcommdood.com/] http://techcommdood.com
LinkedIn: [LINK: http://www.linkedin.com/in/techcommdood]
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