“We have no money left in our budget! We weren’t given enough budget to support all of this rework!”
We have to stop the cycle that causes us to make these statements! When do we as Publications Managers, help support the cause and make this madness stop?
I have one suggestion… Let’s get out of our own way and look around on how we can work smarter and easier!
I have personally supported more programs than I care to mention, that have been lead down a path of rework that caused major overruns! It doesn’t matter how much one wants to stop making that happen, we just continue to make the same mistakes. When I had the opportunity to develop processes to help others work smarter and not harder, I didn’t realize how hard of an effort that was going to be! Let’s be honest everyone, who really wants to work hard anymore?! Not me! Especially knowing that there is so much more to accomplish by helping others understand how it doesn’t have to be this difficult! As a good friend said “industry colleagues can’t afford not to try your R4i Software right now!” So let’s understand what we have in our tool belts, to work with ease and understand how we can come together to begin setting a better standard for our teams.
Below are some examples on how we need to start moving out of our own way…
There was a day when time equaled money. We in Technical Publications only get minimal budgets, so why do we continue working when we know the source documentation is incomplete? I’ve personally been guilty of being convinced that it would be best to “get ahead of the effort and use what little information or data we have today!” Knowing that this is going to cause rework, one way or another, and I still started ahead of the process. We have to stop doing this! We have to get out of our way and work directly with the Engineering teams to show them how their changes will affect the work we do ahead of the process. They have to be allowed the time to finish their job before we go ahead and write data against the in-work engineering.
When you have the opportunity to utilize software to mitigate ones time when they are currently manually performing the efforts instead of pressing a button to automate that process, why would you not invest in gaining the time back you have lost over the decades? Get out a calculator and calculate how much time it takes your teams to click on every link in their data one, by one, by one to make sure each link is active. Then think whether or not a $430.50 investment is worth it to allow software to accurately check those links and references in your data and report what is missing and what is valid.
Here is another reason why I personally believe that when you decide to implement S1000D into your organization you need to think of what it means to actually reuse something of quality. Creating new documentation for the first time in S1000D is going to be based on legacy data at some level. When understanding how reusing data is accomplished, that new content can then be applied to your legacy data and eventually, a high percentage of your legacy data will be converted by default. But the catch here for this to be successful is that you will need to get out of the old way of doing things to ensure the same legacy lessons learned are not repeated. Use the tools that were based on the S1000D specification to ensure that this will be the last time you author major content in support of the end product.
We don’t have to go far to start understanding where we are overrunning technical publication programs, the facts are clearly present. Get out of the habit of believing the end product, particularly PDF, is the only piece to the overall picture that is supposed to build the quality in the deliverable. Understand what tools and solutions can be applied to the process in order to minimize your team’s efforts to build quality into your customer’s documentation.
Your customers will appreciate these efforts, and your team will appreciate the investment their managers made by valuing their time!
Once you’re ready to step out of the way to broaden your understanding of how we can support your challenges, let’s talk!
VP of Global Sales & Marketing