interviewing SME

Interviewing SMEs: Prepare, Talk, and Troubleshoot

Interviewing subject matter experts (SMEs) is one of the key soft skills that an Information Developer should possess. Our job is to get the technical input and turn it into a clear and usable output: decide on what is crucial and what is irrelevant, structure the information, and illustrate it with examples or graphics. Still, the much-needed input resides in the minds of the SMEs, and we need to act wisely to retrieve it—in other words, to master the art of interviewing.

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Write The Docs Europe 2016. Takeaways

Ayeeeee @writethedocs again in beautiful Prague!

Thanks to the awesome organizers, speakers, and everyone with whom we talked the days away or even simply clinked glasses – this was a conference to remember!

And just what I remember most, it’s right here in this post.

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Docs+Support = AWESOME

Great Write the Docs talk Two Great Teams: Bridging the Gap Between Documentation and Customer Support by Neal Kaplan can help you discover docs-support teams potential.

Highlights of the talk:

  • Support team may help you build the culture of information sharing.
  • Why should you be curious about support cases/tickets:
    • “how to do something…” cases are practically yours.
    • learn about customers experience and expertize.
    • learn the language customers are using.

I myself collaborate closely with the support team on my project, and can totally testify that support team is none less than SME of your SMEs.

Enjoy the talk!

Yana Halaburka, Information Developer at ELEKS

Customers and Content

At the recent Write the Docs conference in Portland, I stood up on stage in front of 400 people and talked about why it’s important to work closely with your customer support team, and the benefits of doing so (besides getting to know your coworkers, of course!).

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A True Detective: an InfoDev in a Project Team

The skill of being a good detective lies at the very heart of the InfoDev profession. My personal impression is that among many other roles, such as being a writer, a linguist, and a “user prototype”, an InfoDev on a project is also a detective, an investigator – especially, at the early stages of involvement.

Imagine that you have just been assigned and welcomed to your new project. Congrats! Now, consider this scenario: “When you arrive at the scene, the crime has been committed, and the evidence is partially corrupt or hidden. The potential witnesses are reluctant to talk about what they saw, what they did, and where they were on that distant day. The culprit is on the run. You realize that what you deal with is a cold case”. Does that ring the bell? After a couple of days of work, does this detective story sound strangely familiar? Continue reading

InfoDev-UX Collaboration or Bringing Beauty and Comfort into Your Project Life

In the previous post, we talked about the benefits of creating a “magic pair” of Information Developers with Business Analysts. Hope that post gave you some ideas on how to organize your work environment even better to achieve top results. But don’t you stop on that! Today, I’m going to tell you about one more magic pair that deserves its place on the project – and that is the InfoDev–UX Designer pair.

Why UX Designer?

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InfoDev-BA Collaboration or Bringing Magic into Your Work Life

The IT industry never stops: the approaches and priorities that were popular yesterday become obsolete and out of trend today. Previously, we cared more about the quality of software and documentation. Now, we think more about what benefits this software or documentation will bring to our users and whether this software or documentation really solve day-to-day tasks of our target audience. One can definitely state that in the IT industry, the focus has shifted to the end-users.

And this shift has made IT specialists rethink the way they worked before and adapt to the new challenges.

I’d confess that previously, Information Developers (aka Technical Writers) were the advocates of the users. We constantly thought of the possible user scenarios and did our best to make lives and experiences of our users better. Today, this is not enough. Users’ habits have changed and are still changing with the speed of light; the pace of the world is changing even quicker. Everyone has become more impatient. So, very often, it doesn’t even get to documentation in its traditional meaning. Users want to get the information they need right at the very moment they need it.

At this point, you understand that the past process doesn’t work, and this is when you have to charm a bit and bring magic to your everyday work life.

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