From the Director
Not only are we coming to the end of 1999 and of the Millennium, we are also at the end of the first full year of the Center for Information-Development Management. Last February, we introduced the CIDM concept to a select group of managers I had worked with and I knew would be intrigued enough to join. Since that inauguration date, nearly 30 senior managers have committed their organizations to a community of strategic-minded professionals. Many others have subscribed to this newsletter with hopes of getting a Center membership in their 2000 budget. One hundred ten people joined us at the first annual Best Practices conference and 230 people took part in the first Single Source Summit. We are building, I am confident, a strong community of individuals and organizations who are discovering an identity.
The Center has been active this year in a number of significant projects, including the Quality Metrics Benchmark Study, the Telecommunications Manufacturing Industry Benchmark Study, and the Ratios study.
Quality Metrics Benchmark Study
I have just completed the final reporting for the Quality Metrics Benchmark Study (QMBS). Four partners, including three Center members, received comprehensive recommendations for new metrics they might institute in their organizations. These partners participated in one-day site visits that included discussion groups with writing staff, managers, task force members working on new initiatives, and often senior managers from other parts of the organizations. All the QMBS partners received a comprehensive project report that catalogued a wide variety of measurements and described best practices already in use by every partner. Members and others attending the Best Practices conference also heard my overview of ways in which we all might better measure the effectiveness of our information for customers and the efficiencies of our internal operations.
Telecommunications Manufacturing Industry Benchmark Study
The Telecommunications Manufacturing Industry Benchmark Study (TMIBS) is nearing completion, with the last of the site visits and phone conferences taking place in December. The partners in this study met for the first time at the Best Practices conference. After some initial nervousness about being in the same room with so many competitors, partners recognized that their common interests in providing excellent information to customers and developing effective operations far outweighed competitive issues.
Thirty-five divisions in five countries from among the largest and most influential companies in the telecommunications industry are partnering in this benchmark. They include Ericsson (Sweden), Nokia (Finland), Alcatel (France), Nortel Networks (Canada), Motorola (USA), Cisco Systems (USA), Lucent Technologies (USA), Newbridge (Canada), and PairGain (USA). The partners will meet again at a major benchmark conference in late February, 2000 in Irving, Texas. Anyone still wishing to join this study should call me immediately.
The TMIBS partners are also planning at least two new studies for 2000: a comprehensive customer study of the telecommunications industry and an industry-wide terminology task force. Both studies will be facilitated by Center management and associates.
Other Center Activities
Ten Center member departments participated in the Ratios Study, which looked at the patterns of interaction between individual technical communicators and the engineers, programmers, testing, marketing, quality assurance, customer support, and other groups with which they interact. The preliminary findings of this study were presented at the Best Practices conference, and the study results are reported in this issue.
Center members also participated in an online Study Group covering Geoffrey Moore’s work, Crossing the Chasm. The Study Group discussions led to the full-day workshop on the Chasm that we held at the Best Practices conference. Katherine Murphy provides you the results of the workshop in her Chasm article in this issue.
In addition to the TMI initiatives for 2000, we have also scheduled a major benchmark study on staffing. Members have told us that they are trying to increase employee satisfaction, create new job opportunities, find innovative incentives to retain valued individuals, and discover new ways to employ traditional skills such as developmental and copy editing. I hope that all of you will be interested in joining this partnership. Remember that the work of the Center is to support you. Please let me know about new and innovative ways that we can make your membership valuable.
By the way-we’re also thinking about hosting a corporate salary survey and a Help Desk for managers who want to ask critical questions of me and the other associates. I want to hear how you might benefit from these new activities.
We are also well into our planning for the New Managers’ Conference, tentatively scheduled for mid-June. Katherine Murphy is serving as program manager for the conference, which will provide a carefully orchestrated series of presentations and panels. The goal is to give new managers the skills and concepts they need to succeed.