I’m going to be published in Spanish!

20 October, 2008 at 9:24 am | Posted in Uncategorised | Leave a comment

I got an email last week from the editor of a Spanish project management website, asking for permission to translate my article ‘3 Main Benefits of Project Baselining‘ and publish it on their site. He said: “This article is very interesting… Really, we want to rely on you because this article is very interesting for all our Readers.”

I replied immediately giving permission, providing they include my author details and the link to our website. He’s going to send me the link when this and a couple more of my articles are published. He has also asked me for a photo to include on their collaborators page: I’ve resisted putting my photo on the web up till now but if I can find a reasonable one I’ll send it to them…

Being a Professional

10 October, 2008 at 12:07 pm | Posted in Uncategorised | Leave a comment

I consider myself as a “professional”, but I got to thinking about what that entails – what does “professionalism” mean?

The Compact Oxford English Dictionary gives this (helpful) definition: ‘the competence or skill expected of a professional.’ The definition of a professional is: ‘a person having impressive competence in a particular activity.’

Fair enough, but this doesn’t begin to describe what I think the term encompasses.

I think that, apart from having a competence, professionalism is largely about your attitude to the work you do and the people you work with.

As a professional, every piece of work I deliver should be done to the best of my ability. This view can apply in all aspects of one’s life, not just at work. For instance, I belong to an amateur drama group, but every production is done to a professional standard. No aspect of the play, whether acting, direction, lighting, sound, costume or stage set is “good enough”: it is always of the highest possible quality, given constraints of budget, skills available and time. Everyone in the group works to that standard – which is why we consistently win awards!

When working with people, whether customers or colleagues, my overriding attitude is respect. I expect them to be as professional as I strive to be, and in my experience most people live up to or even exceed my expectations. Several years ago, my manager at the time said he thought I am a humanist, by which he meant that I believe in the inherent “goodness” of human beings. At the time I hadn’t thought in those terms, but he was right in his perception. Professionalism, for me, involves dealing ethically and fairly with all the people I come into contact with, being open, honest, polite and tactful, and behaving with the degree of formality suited to the level and length of our business relationship.

Another important aspect is how you represent the organisation you work for to the outside world, and how you talk about your competitors. It is unprofessional to discuss shortcomings in your own organisation, and to criticise or ridicule other organisations in your particular field. Comparing how they do things with your own organisation’s methods, and highlighting the advantages of the latter, shows respect for them whilst still presenting your organisation in the best light.

For me, professionalism means taking a pride in my work, acknowledging excellence and showing respect for the work of others, and treating people the way I would wish to be treated.

What other writing do I do?

7 October, 2008 at 4:31 pm | Posted in website | Leave a comment

Apart from writing manuals and Help, I also author all the pages on our website (which I constructed without any formal training – but that’s another story!). This requires a rather different approach, as the website is a sort of extended product brochure, where the emphasis must be on the benefits of using our software, rather than how to use it. I’m also “selling” the company, in terms of the services we provide, and what it’s like to work with us.

This can sometimes be difficult, as I have to think at a higher, more conceptual┬álevel than when I’m writing about the minutiae of which button to click. However, talking to prospective customers helps enormously, as they ask the sort of questions which┬ámake me think more clearly about the reasons why our system will help them achieve their objectives.

This illustrates very well one of the main issues for a technical author – appropriate writing for the intended audience. We not only have to consider who are the people that will read our work, but also why they might be reading it.

ISTC Membership

7 October, 2008 at 10:02 am | Posted in Documentation | Leave a comment

I heard last night that my application for membership of the ISTC has been approved. This entitles me to put MISTC after my name.

This organisation reflects my belief in the importance of documentation which is accessible to non-technical people. It promotes technical communication as a profession, with a Code of Conduct which seeks to ensure that members are ethical in their dealings with customers, employers and employees, suppliers, fellow professionals and the wider community.

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