BURLINGTON, Mass.—In many organizations, the Technical Communication group and the Technical Support group deal with very similar types of information. Yet there is often little communication or sharing between “us” and “them.”
Often the Support and TechComm groups report to different organizations within the company. As a result, the groups are siloed and have little interaction with one another. Each team goes about its business: writers write the documentation, support reps talk to customers, and little or no sharing goes on.
One chapter member recently complained, “Our tech support people take end user calls, and they never direct the end user to the user docs and online help that we provide. They also do not communicate to us the kinds of calls they take, and the problems that come up most frequently that might be handled in user doc.”
These frustrations are common among technical communicators. But what if these teams could work more closely together? What if they were part of the same department? Would this change result in knowledge-sharing and higher-quality documentation that helps users to avoid or resolve problems? What economies and improvements might occur? What other consequences might arise?
As a hardware technical writer, Rick Lippincott has been part of the Technical Support group at a couple of different companies. Most recently, when Lippincott worked at American Science and Engineering, the Technical Writing group was merged with the Technical Support group. There were definitely some advantages, but some disadvantages, too.
“There is often a mismatch between the goals and objectives of Technical Support and TechComm,” said Lippincott. “A merger between the two groups can work when there is a decision high enough up the food chain. However, there can also be resistance if the groups feel like they are competing against each other.”
Lippincott will share these and other experiences working with Technical Support at the September meeting of the New England chapter of the Society for Technical Communication. Nancy Alllison, president of the chapter, said, “Many chapter members have expressed interest in this topic, and we look forward to hearing Rick share his experiences with us.”
The program is Wednesday, September 16, 2015, starting at 6 pm, at the Hilton Garden Inn, 5 Wheeler Road, Burlington, Massachusetts. Please join us for this relevant and thought-provoking presentation. And if you have collaborated with Technical Support in your role as Technical Communicator, we hope you will attend and lend your voice to the discussion, adding your perspectives and experiences to the conversation.
Register in advance for the best price. The following ticket prices (USD) include networking, dinner, and then the presentation:
- Advance price for STC New England Chapter members: $25
- Advance price for not currently employed professionals: $20
- Advance price for STC student members: $15
- At-the-door price: $35
You can attend the presentation only (approximately 7–8:30 pm) remotely. Register in advance for the presentation webinar. The webinar price is $15.
The deadline to register for the networking, dinner, and live presentation is 6 p.m. on Monday, September 14.
About Our Speaker
Rick Lippincott is an Associate Fellow in the STC, and has written about hardware systems for most of his 30 years in technical communication. His assignments have included documentation for military transport aircraft, jet engines, ion implantation devices, telecom systems, core network switches, and high-energy X-ray systems. He is a former president of STC New England, and is the author of the Squadron/Signal publication C-5 Galaxy in Action.
About the New England Chapter of STC
The New England chapter is one of the largest chapters in the Society for Technical Communication (STC). The New England chapter serves technical communications professionals in Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont.
The chapter sponsors monthly programs, informal social events, an annual technical publications competition, and an annual regional professional conference.
STC New England was formed in 2011 when the Boston Chapter and the Northern New England Chapter merged to form the New England chapter. The Boston Chapter, incorporated in 1953, and the Association of Technical Writers and Editors in New York City were founding chapters of the STC.
For more information, visit stcnewengland.org.