How do we keep from overwhelming you/keep you busy?
When hiring someone to help with a major project, it makes sense to think through how to best utilize their time and your budget. You may be concerned about how to fill a technical writer’s work schedule with enough technical writing and editing to avoid unnecessary down time. Or, you could have such a massive documentation project that you worry you will overwhelm a technical writing team. The answer to both of these conundrums is scheduling. Through all phases of your project, Shea will work with you to provide quality technical writing on a schedule that respects your time and deadlines, including:
1. Initial scheduling
Shea’s project planning process includes clearly defining the scope of your project, the resources needed, and pertinent deadlines (internal and external). We take into account the size of the project and assign the necessary people to work with you to meet your goals. And, we have extensive experience estimating the time needed to provide you with the best quality technical writing and editing so that we minimize delays and avoid overwhelm. Predicting common scheduling glitches and often overlooked time drains at the outset of a project is part of our expertise.
We also understand that your working hours may be different than ours; we have experience working with global clients who live and work in time zones across the world. We work collaboratively within your schedule and take your time into account when scheduling meetings, working sessions, and SME interviews.
2. Time management
Our technical writers have experience with time management and working on more than one project at a time. Our goal is always to provide a prompt response to all clients and to have an efficient work process so that our turnaround time is quick and our work is thorough.
We also want to stay busy during our working hours without overfilling our calendars, so time management is a priority for you and for us. At Shea, we put in the necessary work at the beginning of each project to ensure that our time is being used effectively and efficiently. And, we continually make adjustments as scheduling conflicts arise or unexpected delays in production make updates necessary.
3. Collaborative communication
Our work process includes status reports at agreed intervals, and we are in constant communication with our clients through email, phone calls, and face-to-face meetings. When schedules inevitably change, we work around that. Our technical writing teams work collaboratively to complete information gathering, comment resolutions, and QC/QA editing, and everyone involved in the process is kept up-to-date about schedule changes and adjustments to avoid delays and meet your deadlines.
Larger projects have a Project Manager assigned to coordinate all the details of working with a team of technical writers and editors, including prioritizing your project in our schedules. But no project is too small to benefit from the expertise of a technical writer or editor, and we invest our best efforts in your project no matter the page count.
At Shea, we provide efficient, effective documentation on a schedule that values your time. Let us know how we can work with you to meet your project goals.
How will you be able to write for my project/company/industry?
You may be wondering how an outside company like Shea will be able to handle your project. Your content is detailed. Your company has its own procedures. Your industry is complex and technical. Here’s what allows Shea to surpass those obstacles and produce quality documentation:
We collaborate with you: The technical writing process is a conversation between our team and yours. It requires a steady back-and-forth of knowledge and preferences. We begin the project with content provided by your subject matter experts (SMEs). As the document undergoes edits, we will reach out to the SMEs to answer questions and resolve comments. Your team can even designate one SME to have the final say-so in case answers and opinions differ. In a typical two-draft project, SMEs have input into each draft, which is ultimately approved by your team. The final product will be something you are familiar with, because you helped to create it.
We bring the perspective of your user: Your team has a high level of knowledge about the processes and procedures that we will be documenting. Because of that knowledge, you may take certain information for granted that your user doesn’t know. We write toward the user, filling in the gaps between your knowledge and their needs. We may even job shadow to learn the specifics. We can ask questions and gather details that you may not have considered, because we bring a fresh set of eyes to the project.
We have industry experience: Shea has over two decades of experience working with various industries, which has given our writers and editors an understanding of basic terminology. We know what documentation such as procedures need to look like, both for easy readability and practical use. Our experience extends into research, including content, best practices, formatting, and compliance. Many of our team members have worked on-site and gained industry knowledge firsthand.
We work with your company: We understand that your company may have specific hours and protocols, and we will work within those parameters to make this collaboration productive. Our writers can work on-site for easier accessibility and communication, and we will work in conjunction with your team to make sure the necessary resources, such laptops and ID badges, are available. If your project needs to match documentation that the company has already created, we can meet those specifications. The project is ultimately yours, and it should reflect your ideas and ethos.
What is the most efficient way for us to work together?
The most efficient way for us to work together is to establish a collaborative work schedule and prioritize time to invest in your project. There are different means to the end of an efficient work rapport, and we work with each of our clients to determine the best way to collaborate based on their schedule and project needs. At Shea, we have a proven document development process that we share with clients when determining the best method to complete their project goals, including:
1. Project planning
We have extensive experience in establishing project plans, schedules, and budgets based on a client’s specific documentation needs, and we are happy to help you determine the most efficient way to complete your documentation project. Beginning with a thorough outline of project expectations, schedule, and budget helps us exceed your expectations and establish an efficient work process from the start. Investing time at the outset of a project to coordinate schedules and align expectations saves time and money through the life of the project. As adjustments are needed, we work with you to make those updates, but having a clearly defined plan from the outset is a valuable resource in maintaining efficiency.
2. Location options
Some clients prefer the technical writer to work on site for ease of access and efficiency in making updates as the document subject develops. Most projects are completed with a few face-to-face working sessions and regular emails, phone calls, and status reports between major updates. We schedule our working hours to maximize efficiency and client availability to prevent delays caused by inaccessible information. We work with you to determine the best working rapport and when our time will be best spent completing specific tasks related to your project. The size of the project, the number of documents involved, and the number of technical writers and editors required all affect efficiency. At Shea, we know how to consider all these elements and create a plan that works for you and your specific project goals.
3. Valuing your time
Our goal is to work with you to find the best way to capture the information you need to communicate. Finding a way to best use your time and our skillset is a value added to all the projects Shea is involved in. For example: If there are source documents available, reviewing them in our office and taking time to formulate pertinent questions and determine potential information gaps before a face-to-face meeting to resolve any open comments or questions makes the best use of your time.
Rather than spending hours reviewing files together, we can put in the time in advance to formulate helpful questions and determine what information we need from you to progress the document. Formatting and editing are additional discrete tasks that we complete for you without using any of your valuable time. By working together to schedule the project tasks so that we work on pieces that do not require your direct involvement while you complete your other responsibilities, we create an efficient work process.
What will you need from me?
We work with clients where they are and often progress their documents from blank pages or a collection of disjointed source documents to a finished product that communicates clearly and aligns with your company’s standards. We work from the outset of your project to define the best documentation strategy for your project and to create a schedule that allows us time to complete the full scope of work within your timeline. We assist you in determining the best structure, format, and wording for your document and in assigning time to review source documents and conduct interviews and collaborative working sessions.
Once you’re convinced that Shea can help you meet your documentation needs, you probably want to know what your role in the process will be. Our document development process includes working collaboratively with our clients, who have confidence in our expertise, and keeping the lines of communication open.
1. Work collaboratively.
The first thing we need from clients is a commitment to work collaboratively. At Shea, we work with clients whose expertise aligns with ours as technical writers. Your team has a high level of knowledge about your processes and procedures, and we want to work with you to create documents that work for you and the end user. You are the expert in your field, and you hold the knowledge we need to create outstanding documentation for your company. Part of our process is capturing your knowledge on paper and making it accessible to your audience.
We bring a wealth of experience in working through the process of taking scattered information (both written and through SME interviews) and creating a polished final document. And what we ask of you is dedicated time to resolve any questions or comments about content and to approve various drafts of your documents. With our involvement, your time commitment will be significantly less than if tackling a major project on your own, but we do rely on your expertise to confirm information and verify that we are working toward a final product that aligns with your expectations.
2. Have confidence in our skills.
The best working relationship is one where both parties are considerate of each other’s time and value the skills the other can bring to the table. We respect your expertise and want to work with you to create documents that capture your high-level knowledge. Our expertise is in creating documents with the end user in mind that communicate clearly and effectively in a format that is visually appealing and accessible. We also provide a fresh set of eyes to identify potential gaps in information, and our editors are diligent in seeking consistency in every small detail, from grammar to spacing to capitalization.
Our clients trust us to make suggestions about formatting, language nuances, and content clarity because that’s our area of expertise. We value that trust and have a clear understanding of how our abilities align with your knowledge to enhance your documentation.
3. Communicate promptly and regularly.
Part of working collaboratively and respecting the knowledge our clients possess is communicating frequently throughout your project. We ask upfront for timely responses to requests for information to keep your project on schedule and avoid lag time between discrete tasks. From the project planning phase, we work with you to establish clear expectations about document goals, including the end users, any company-specific formatting or style guides, and the best way to reach you as questions arise.
Open lines of communication help us to make your project meet your vision. Without clear communication of expectations up front and throughout draft iterations, our goal to create the best version of your document becomes a moving target. We work with our clients to eliminate excessive emails and phone calls establishing the best methods and timing of communication with each client. By keeping a clear line of communication open and respecting everyone’s time by responding promptly, we keep your project moving forward.