From the Director
Welcome to another issue of Best Practices. Time really has flown over the past few months! Our membership is growing steadily as is the number of inquiries about the Center. There’s so much underway, that I’ll get right to it.
We’ve just begun a complimentary ratio benchmark study that several Center members are participating in. Rather than simply determining staffing levels through comparing the numbers of information developers and product developers, we’re trying to arrive at a model that will address the levels of interaction between information and product developers within a given project. We’re confident that a sociological approach like this will produce more comprehensive guidelines to facilitate your staffing decisions than simply ratios alone. We’ll be reporting some of the findings in our next issue.
Also, despite a few initial problems negotiating firewalls, we’ve had several successful online Center chats and study group. I particularly enjoyed sharing ideas on Geoffrey Moore’s “Technology Adoption Life Cycle” with Center members and Associates who took part in the Crossing the Chasm study group. Moore’s model provides us with a necessary starting point to begin understanding who our information-product users are and what their specific information needs will be. A vociferous advocate of user-centered documentation, I find Moore’s understanding of product users and the product-user traits associated with different stages of the technology life cycle to be among the most thorough in our industries. Extrapolated to documentation and training, Moore’s model provides us with an effective road map for assessing the information needs of our audiences, resources required from our staff, and expenditures required from our management.
While at Tektronix, Center Associate Katherine Murphy attended seminars presented by Moore and his colleagues. She found Moore’s process to be very helpful in making marketing decisions; understanding this model helped marketing, communication, and product-development professionals find a common vocabulary to discuss customers and their needs.
Because we consider Crossing the Chasm to be required reading for any technical communication professional, Katherine and I will host a one-day workshop on the issues outlined above during our Best Practices Conference this Fall. The conference will be held at the Keystone Resort September 27-29, 1999. We’re committed to delivering a valuable conference experience to you, and while we’re putting together a list of our own ideas for sessions and presentations, we would be happy to hear any suggestions you might have; send an email to email@example.com to give us your feedback.
I’d also like to welcome Donne Ruiz of Donne Ruiz & Associates in Boulder, Colorado and Ginny Redish of Redish & Associates in Bethesda, Maryland to our list of Center Associates. You can learn more about them and the services they can offer Center members when we profile them in upcoming editions of Best Practices.