CIDM Matters

CIDM Matters is an electronic newsletter published on the 1st and 15th of every month. Browse these articles published in CIDM Matters or subscribe to the newsletter by selecting the “Join Us” option on the navigation bar.

Unearthing Precious Lessons from the Hidden Gift Vase of Telecommuting

Sairam Venugopalan, QUALCOMM
July 1, 2020

Regardless of the nature of work that we might be performing in our professional lives, be it of the content-curation ilk or of the more fanciful engineering role, the vast volumes of time that we expend towards the readiness, ride, and return in the home to office trajectory has always been a throbbing area for several of us in the corporate countryside. While we might have yearned for jobs that would have enabled us to have the flexibility and cushion of not having to trek to our workplaces, be it far or at a stone’s throw from our abodes, many of our day-jobs have often necessitated physical presence at our desks and office cubicles. In certain cases, this lack of freedom might have been for logistical reasons with the organization for which we were working, while in other cases, the general mandate might have been for remote-working to be availed in a judicious way for exigencies. […]

Investing in Your Content’s Future

Sabine Ocker, Comtech Services
July 1, 2020

When migrating to a structured markup publishing environment such as DITA, most organizations feel they are well-positioned to move forward once tools and the information model are in place, and their content converted and migrated into the cCMS… but are they really finished?

Newly created content complies with the information model, and so going forward will be well aligned with the new standards and guidelines, but not the existing content corpus.

Many organizations decide to wait until after their content has been converted into DITA to do clean up. Given the pragmatic realities of software release schedules and learning new tools, some find the momentum flags for investing in their existing content. […]

Working on Far-Flung Teams (How I learned to stop worrying and love the Zoom)

Larry Kunz, Extreme Networks
June 15, 2020

Since the beginning of 2020, many of us by necessity have grown accustomed to working away from the office. Whether you use the seemingly ubiquitous Zoom or another tool, you’ve no doubt become familiar with videoconferencing and experienced both its strengths and weaknesses.

You’ve probably noticed that it’s harder to collaborate with remote teams than with teams that are co-located. It’s harder to keep everyone in sync, all rowing together to move the boat forward. Team members might struggle to share timely, accurate information. They might experience confusion and misunderstand things without even realizing it. […]

Create Exceptional Documentation using Enterprise Grade Reviews

Amanda Barfield, VMware
June 15, 2020

Prior to working at VMware as a Senior Technical Writer, most of my experience was working with start-up companies where I created a solid foundation for their documentation to grow and scale with them. One of the many things I’ve learned from VMware is how essential it is to incorporate Enterprise-Grade documentation reviews in each release cycle, regardless of company size or geographic differences. Working at a start-up is exciting, it’s thrilling, and there’s constant action, with the opportunity to build something from the ground up. The high agility allows engineering to release new features, updates, and fixes at the flip of a coin. As a Technical Writer, my biggest struggle was trying to figure out how to keep the documentation accurate and helpful to our customers, while still flowing with the agility of the start-up environment; I believe VMware Workspace ONE UEM has found a solution. […]

Unpacking Authoring Practices in DITA (Part 2)

Nolwenn Kerzreho, IXIASOFT
June 1, 2020

Some writers and specialists claim it’s too difficult to write in DITA and that the learning curve is too steep. Some other specialists and documentation managers claim that they can start new hires writing in DITA in a couple of hours.

This article is the follow-up of a series of articles about writing practices that authors must adapt, adopt, or shed.

We will focus here on the new practices that authors must adopt when writing using DITA. Of course, the trajectory and requirements for each company are different. Still, the most important hurdles for authors usually relate to these three aspects: accessibility, navigation alternatives, and writing for reuse. […]

The Road Not Taken

Pam Sheridan, anonymous company
May 15, 2020

Five years ago, we began the momentous transformation of our technical content from a monolithic document-dominated proprietary process to a DITA-standard, topic-oriented content management paradigm. The scale of the migration was not only unprecedented in our organization but also not wholly supported within an industry that rarely prioritizes investment in tech pub over software development.


Content Strategy and Self-service Support Portals — A Match Made in Heaven

Sabine Ocker, Comtech Services
May 15, 2020

Enabling user self-service is at the center of many organization’s content strategy. We know that users who are used to finding virtually any piece of information they require through the internet expect the same behavior for any product they use as well. They expect to have ready answers to their questions, step-by-step instructions to complete their tasks, and specifics for troubleshooting and resolving any issues they encounter. In fact, some research studies indicate that 90% of today’s consumers expect an organization to offer a self-service customer support portal, and that number will likely increase to 100%. Self-support portals set up an organization’s user-centric content strategy in three essential ways.


BOLO – Unforeseen Distractions

Dawn Prunty, Commscope
May 1, 2020

My first opportunity to work from home as a freelance writer occurred years ago. At the time, a local publication had a list of suggestions for anyone new to working at home. The writer provided different scenarios and circumstances at-home workers could face and suggested anticipating your needs (supplies, technology) and establishing boundaries for family and friends. You were to inform family and friends that you were working at home and not to be disturbed unless it was a real emergency. “You are not available to run errands — you are at work.” There was also a sort of BOLO (Be On the Look Out) list that warned about distractions (like house chores, tv, and again non-urgent calls from friends and family). […]

Writers and Developers: The Dynamic Duo

Shwetha Madhan, VMware
April 15, 2020

When developers and technical writers work well together, they both take advantage of their relationship and bring out the best in each other. This article highlights the value of an efficient collaboration which can improve the quality of the documentation. […]

Enhancing Customer Experience of Content by Tapping into Test Plans and Tech-Support

Sairam Venugopalan, Qualcomm
April 15, 2020

We’re increasingly being shrouded with the chime that ‘customer is king’, ‘customer satisfaction scores are pivotal’, ‘understand your customers in the same vein as you fathom your products’, and ‘engage more with customers for outside-in writing’. While all of these are critical for the success of user-facing product documentation, we have, at least, a couple of treasure troves, amidst the plethora of our day-to-day tools and practices, that we can cash upon. Exploiting those hidden reserves does not require separate company funding or extra-departmental budget allocation to improve customer interaction with the content we create. […]