JoAnn Hackos, PhD
CIDM Director

This year marked the first time that CIDM has presented an award for distinguished contributions to best practices in the management of information development. The Rare Bird award was presented to Janet Williams-Hepler on behalf of her team at Microsoft, which is responsible for the user assistance for the Office applications. The award reads:

The Center for Information-Development Management, Inc.
Rare Bird Award

Presented to the
Office User Assistance Group
Microsoft Corporation

for distinguished contributions to
best practices in the management
of information development

Presented at the
Best Practices Conference
Chatham, Massachusetts
October 2004

In pursuing their continuous publishing innovation, Janet’s team has developed a process that provides the writers with daily feedback from users trying to find solutions and solve problems. Users searching the online information are asked to rate the information topics. If they find that the topic doesn’t answer their questions or meet their needs, they have the opportunity to write a message that goes directly to the writer responsible for the topic.

Based on daily reports, writers and managers prioritize the responses from users and revise the topics. Then, they immediately publish the new version and watch the results. By monitoring user satisfaction, they know if they’ve made the right changes to the content.

Janet reports that writers on the Office applications team spend 50 percent of their time updating topics and publishing immediately in response to user feedback. As a result, they are experiencing a significant increase in user satisfaction with the information delivered. And, users don’t have to wait for the next release of the product for information to be improved.

The decision to award the Rare Bird this year to Janet and the Microsoft team was by no means easy. Superb applications were received from IBM, Medtronic, and Ultimate Software. We encourage everyone to consider submitting an application describing your innovation for next year’s award program.

I also want to thank the judging panel for their excellent work. Led by Sue King, CIDM associate, panel members included Debbie Rosenquist (Dell retired), Gil Mounsey (NCR retired), Christopher Gales (WindRiver), and Jonathan Price, CIDM associate. I also want to thank Julie Bradbury (Cadence retired) and her team for developing the award criteria, the announcements, and the application form. Thanks to Palmer Pearson (Cadence), Daphne Walmer (Medtronic), Diane Davis (Synopsys), and Bill Gearhart (BMC Software).