Now that we’ve put a bow on the last year (and had a little bit of time to clean out our inboxes after returning to work after the holidays), it’s time to start digging in and moving forward in the new year. What better way to get started than by taking an introspective look at yourself and your department? JANA has put together a list of 8 New Year’s Resolutions that will help put you on a productive path.
1. Decide where you want to be (technologically) in three years and begin working towards that goal.
It is important to set goals for yourself and your team in terms of the product that you want to be able to deliver and how you want to be able to deliver it. Take a close look at the current market trends and feedback from your customers and follow the logical path as it progresses out over the next three years. Once your vision of the future begins to take shape, start building a roadmap and collecting the pieces of the puzzle that will be necessary to make today’s pipe dreams tomorrow’s reality.
2. Build a collaborative relationship with Marketing, Training and Customer Service.
It will be more obvious than ever that well-managed technical information holds potential value for several areas within your organization. Look for opportunities to champion your group’s efforts to key individuals outside your office, and start building strategic alliances with managers in corporate areas that are outside of your own.
3. Make sure that everybody on your team knows your department’s ‘elevator pitch’.
Unless you work remotely, there are probably several corporate decision makers regularly floating around the building near your office. You’ve probably got a break room, coffee station or water cooler where employees bump elbows with people from all corporate levels. What would happen if a company director asked one of your writers (or even you) to describe what value their efforts provide to the company? Make a chance encounter like this work to your team’s benefit by making sure that every person understands not only their role on the team, but the team’s indispensable role within the organization and the ways that your team is helping to boost the company’s bottom line.
4. Talk more with peers from other companies.
Conferences and regional forums deliver a wealth of information and are ideal for networking. You can be connected quickly to the right information and people to help propel your team to where you want to be. Don’t miss out on this valuable resource.
5. Understand your challenges with technical information in terms of business issues.
It is a safe bet that the technical information is used by someone, somewhere to solve a problem. Take time to look at your group through the eyes of other departments, your customers (internal or external) and your superiors, and see if you can figure out what that problem is and consider ways to present a better solution or to solve a wider variety of issues for a wider audience. It will be a very healthy exercise, and will help to give you a better idea of how and where your deliverables fit into the larger picture.
6. Start collecting internal metrics.
Metrics are a great way to make sure that your group is operating at peak efficiency (or more importantly if it isn’t), and viewing the metrics over a period of time can give you insight to opportunities that there may be no other way of discovering. It’s never too early to start collecting metrics, but it can become too late very quickly and without much warning. Figure out what metrics make sense for you to track, and begin collecting that data.
7. Understand where automation is important… and where it isn’t.
If you’ve been managing a tech pubs group for any length of time, you’ve probably had one of your bosses demand that you do more with less. An easy way to increase production and curb costs is to build automation into your routines and processes, and an automated approach to technical data management can produce big results – but it isn’t always the answer. Automation will only get you so far, and you certainly don’t want to sacrifice the human intelligence that is required in so much that you do. As advanced as machine learning gets, for some functions it can simply never replace individual knowledge and experience.
8. Ask your customers how technical information impacts them and develop relevant strategies.
No matter how long you’ve been in your position, it is ultimately end users who decide whether or not you’re doing a good job…so ask them! Let them help you to understand what they want and what they need, and take the time to evaluate their answers, then formulate a plan to deliver the information that they need when, where and how they want it delivered.
These suggestions are by no means a good starting or ending point for your New Year’s plans, but they are a great way to fill in the gaps. If you’ve got questions about any of our suggestions, or would like more information about our technical information consulting services, feel free to contact us at any time.
Happy New Year!
* – Portions of this blog entry were used to create an infographic that you can view here: 7 Ideas to Consider for Moving Your Tech Pubs Group Forward