Much has changed for me since I last blogged. So this entry – and those to follow – will be based on my new experiences.
In October I found myself facing redundancy. It didn’t surprise me, I am afraid to say. A new CIO had been brought in late in the summer, and he didn’t seem as supportive as his predecessor. It was reported to me that he had been heard to say “Technical Authoring – that’s a bit old fashioned, isn’t it?”
I prepared the ground to persuade him otherwise by beginning to pull together a presentation on the Information Management issues facing the IT department. My slot in the Senior Management Meeting was cancelled with a week to go, and a few weeks later the news of the redundancy came out. So had I been given the opportunity, what would I have said?
I suspect – although I will never know for certain – that the CIO believes Technical Authors write manuals, and nothing else. In fact, while the company had many customised and bespoke systems it used to operate its business, these had never been documented and I wasn’t employed to do so. What I was in fact brought in to do was to help identify areas where information was not being well managed, and to improve the processes and tools used to do this. This was what I was going to base my presentation around, citing examples of my work with the Project Management Office and the Architecture team.
I think most Technical Authors know that the communication, analysis and presentation skills we develop in the course of our career give us a very useful toolset that can be used more broadly across the business environment. Communicating this to our colleagues can sometimes be a real challenge. I know in twelve years of permanent roles as a Technical Author I’ve run up against this challenge time and time again. Now, as a contractor, I’m finding things are very different… but that’s a subject for another blog post.
I’d be interested to hear your experiences. How easy have you found it to expand the perception of your role as a Technical Author? Or, like my friend Content Tactician , have you found yourself drifting into the role without realising it? Do you think we have a fashion image problem? How would you improve it?
 To quote (from memory) Roger Hart during his Spork/Platypus Average presentation at TCUK10: “A Technical Author’s toolbox of cool things is a Content Strategist’s toolbox of cool things.”