Managing information when you are a project services company

Last week, we completed the third phase of our IT systems migration. With each phase, we’re gaining insights into how information can be best managed inside a company selling and delivering project-based services.

There are a number of basic IT systems needed to run a project-based business, such as ourselves:

  • Prospect database. This is essentially for sending out mailshots and any freebies offered on a website.
  • Customer Relationship Management (CRM). This is for following up new enquiries, past customers and carrying out other sales-related activities. This involves keeping a record of past conversations and next steps.
  • Project management. This involves keeping a record of conversations, repositories for files and contracts, time spent on a project, and other project-related activities.
  • Accounting. This involves invoicing and payments.

In numerous companies where I’ve worked there’s been a problem in finding the ideal solution. A single system that does everything may force you to work in a particular way of working, and these systems can be expensive for smaller organisations. Having separate systems can lead to information not being shared across the systems. For example, many of the project teams I’ve worked with have found CRM systems, such as Salesforce.com, too complex. They simply don’t use them often enough.

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Cherryleaf “green screen” videos

We’ve been putting together some short length videos that we can use on the Cherryleaf website. These are “quick and dirty”, three to four minute videos, shot behind in front of a green screen.

One explains why technical communication is changing:

Another looks at recruiting a Technical Author:

Each video takes a couple of hours to create, and we hope to add more over time.

Microsoft’s “No more robot speak” in action

 

Our post about how Microsoft is changing its writing style (Microsoft moves away from “robot speak” in its user documentation) generated a lot of interest, so I thought it might be useful to post some examples of it that we’ve spotted.

These examples are from Office 365 Premium Edition.

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Reframing technical communication as marketing

We’ve noticed a few slidedecks and blogs recently that have been looking at the value of technical communication in marketing a product successfully. With the trend towards earning revenues over a lifetime (rather than in a single upfront payment), the marketing strategies employed by organisations is changing.

Scott Abel has posted a slidedeck called “The Future of Technical Communication is Marketing”, which you can see below:

Acrolinx has also been posting blog posts on a similar theme, such as How Technical Communicators Help Build Customer Relationships and Building Customer Relationships: Why Content’s in the Driver’s Seat.

Marketing is becoming, particularly on the Web, about designing User Interfaces for prospects and for customers.

Technical Authors will need to understand how marketing is changing in order to understand and explain how they can add value to that activity.

Webinars – which topics would you like to see?

Our migration to new computers and IT systems went pretty smoothly last week, and we now have a new webinar system. This platform supports up to 250 delegates, who can attend via a Web browser or a desktop application.

It’s been a while since we ran webinars (these would be free), so it would be a good time to find out which topics people would be interested in us discussing. If you have any suggestions, please use the comment box below, or send us an email.

Adobe launches Tech Comm Survey 2014

We have been asked to forward this message regarding the launch of Adobe Tech Comm Survey 2014:

The purpose of the survey is to understand how you create, publish and distribute content; and how you measure the effectiveness of content. We want to understand which tools you use, how you use them and how they can be improved.

It does not matter if you use Adobe products or not. As long as you are a Tech Comm professional and want your voice to be heard, you can fill out the survey. Please spare 20 minutes of your precious time to fill out the survey and stand a chance to win one of the 20 exciting prizes!

Survey Link: http://survey.douwriteright.com/

Here is your opportunity to share your opinions, influence the direction of Adobe Tech Comm products and win some cool prizes.

We’re changing IT systems this week, and emails might be delayed in getting to us

We’re changing some of our IT systems this week, including our email system. This involves some changes to DNS and TXT records that may take a while to propagate around the Internet.

If you send us an email and it seems like we’re taking an unusually long time to reply, please feel free to call us on 0207 100 4513. If we detect any serious problems that might take days to fix, we have a backup alternative gmail account we can ask you to use temporarily instead.

What’s happening with the ISTC’s marketing?

I’ve had some time in the last few days to initiate some the ideas mentioned in my post Marketing the technical communication profession. This relates to improving the marketing of the Institute of Scientific and Technical Communicators. Most of the work we do for clients is confidential, so it’s a pleasant change to be able to talk about a project as it’s progressing.

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