Technical Writing and the Economy

This title weighs heavily on my mind, as does the topic in general. It’s almost too heavy for a blog post and yet it is an issue that we are all discussing. Where is technical writing going? For now, the answer seems to be “no where fast.”

A disturbing trend that I am seeing in Israel involves companies making massive cuts to their staff. The technical writing department is not immune. We have been running a recent salary survey for Techshoret and, as the author of the survey, I have been privy to the results in real-time.  I’ll be publicizing the results right after the Techshoret conference next Thursday, but for now I’ll just say that by far the most depressing results seem to be the doubling of the unemployment rate in just two months.

What this means is that we have to all be creative and optimistic. This may not be so easy to do, but we have to try. I had a meeting today with a company that has developed a fantastic eLearning platform combining a typical presentation, movie, Captivate clip, etc. with video and excellent navigational tools (we’ll be using this platform to record the sessions at TCC).

During the meeting, we discussed business promotion ideas and what came out of the meeting was a clear understanding that difficult times can challenge you to come up with creative solutions. That’s where our company has been heading for the last few months. We’ve opened up the WritePoint Graduate Internship Program – this is a great way for a company to get a trained writer for 1/3 the price of a new technical writer. We’ve been reaching out to our old customers offering them discounted technical writing rates, and we’ve come up with other ideas as well.

But the one thing that arises is that the companies that will be successful are the ones who are dedicated to the latest technologies and trends in technical writing, and have the talented staff to meet the needs of companies, to economize and get things done quickly and efficiently. Maybe I’m prejudiced, but I think WritePoint is in a fantastic position with an amazing group of writers.

I spend so much of my time being neutral on Techshoret and with the conference, so it’s fun to finally have a place where I can let loose and write about my company and the people who make it what it is. Almost four years ago, we launched the WritePoint Training Center in Har Hotzvim, Jerusalem. I like to think (and I do believe) that it has changed the face of training in Israel.

Our staff has been energized by the addition last year of Alex Masycheff who brings new clarity and tremendous knowledge of all things related to DITA and content management systems. We’ve implemented these cost-effective, time-saving systems for a number of our customers and branched into even more interesting areas by partnering with several international vendors.

One of the things I like best about WritePoint is that we can honestly call ourselves vendor-neutral. I think this is something I started accidentally when I became an expert of both RoboHelp and Flare. They are competing solutions in the field of help authoring and yet it seems most often that the question of which application to use for a client is often determined by the requirements of the job and so I can honestly present both solutions (and others) and help our clients decide.

Alex very much follows that tradition with his content management and XML conversion projects. He meets with clients and helps analyze the best solution – not based on what we sell, but what their documentation requires.

The beauty of a blog post is that it is supposed to be focused and short so I’ll take this opportunity to say that I look forward to introducing the rest of the WritePoint team in the coming weeks, rather than continue on now. If you’ve been following the blog, you’ll have met many of our writers already. They have taken to the blogging concept and world like…like a technical writer takes to a new version of Word (which is our way of saying better than a duck takes to water).

So I hope you’ll come back again and again so that I have a chance to tell you more about how WritePoint plans to meet (and beat) the challenges of this economy.  And, if the last few months are any measure, it will be with creativity, cost-effective solutions, dedication, and a team that rivals any and all in the industry.