Cherryleaf joins Wired Sussex

Wired Sussex logoCherryleaf has joined Wired Sussex, a Brighton-based membership organisation for companies operating in the digital, media and technology sector in Sussex, UK.

Wired Sussex works to help members to create, innovate and grow.

Campus LondonCherryleaf is also a member (but not a resident) of Campus London, a co-working space in the heart of East London’s Tech City that’s supported and powered by Google.

We’re happy to talk to start-ups about supporting users on a shoestring, as well as new and emerging ways to support users. Contact us if you’d like to talk.

The Society for Communication’s first guest blogger is….

STC logoThe Society for Technical Communication, the professional body for technical communicators in the USA, is introducing a number of specially selected guest bloggers to its official blog. The first guest blogger is, we’re pleased to say, Cherryleaf’s Director of Sales and Marketing, Ellis Pratt.

These posts, called “Letter from the UK”, will explore what’s happening for technical communicators in the UK and mainland Europe. You’ll find the first post on the “STC Notebook blog” today:

STC’s Notebook has long been a great source for STC-related news, information and conversation. Now it hopes to become the same for topics relating to technical communications. We’re delighted to be involved and participating in this initiative, and we hope you’ll find these posts of interest.

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See also:

Technical authoring tips on Twitter, from Cherryleaf

@cherryleaf_tips is a new Twitter account from Cherryleaf that provides technical writing tips and articles relating to technical communication.

When you follow @cherryleaf_tips on Twitter, you’ll see a new tip tweeted at 11am GMT each day, over a period of 31 days. The messages then repeat, starting again from the beginning.

Our client’s fire risk assessment report generator goes live this week

In the UK, every building, apart from private single dwellings, needs to be assessed for fire risk every three years. To do this, a fire risk assessor will assess the building and write a report on their findings and recommendations. For offices, these reports can be 30 pages long, and it can take an assessor a full day to complete the report.

We’ve been working with a fire risk assessment firm to create a system for them that generates these reports in less time and in a more consistent way. Like many organisations, they’ve been using Microsoft Word to write the reports, and this can lead to a wide variation in the way the reports are presented.

Cherryleaf has been developing a report generator for them that significantly reduces the time needed to produce their reports – they believe they can reduce the time needed from a day to an hour – and, this week, they’ve started to print out the assessments they’ve been writing.

So what did we create for them?

There were a number of potential software applications we could have used (for example, Author-it, Mindtouch and Confluence), but the best fit for this client was Confluence. Within this application, we created a master report ‘boilerplate’ that contained all the key information that should go into a fire risk assessment. This master boilerplate ensures there are no omissions in each report.

On the individual pages within the report, there are numerous drop-down sentences and blank text boxes for the assessors to choose. There are also ‘variables’, for chunks of information that need to appear in more than one place in the report – they are embedded in appropriate paragraphs. If you change the information contained in the variable, then this change is implemented at the appropriate places in the document.

The project has produced a number of challenges. For the client, they have been looking hard at the content that goes into an assessment report – and how to create a single report that satisfies the many different standards for fire risk assessments. For us, we’ve had to create a system that works for people who might not be very technically literate. For example, people who have never uploaded an image into a document before. We’ve also had to create something that’s very flexible – suitable for assessments of small buildings such as bandstands, bus shelters and suchlike, to big buildings such as tower blocks.

The proof of the pudding is in the eating, as they say, and we’ll soon be able to see how much time the client will save. The signs are looking good, and there’s likely to be further enhancements and developments to their system in the future.

At a rough estimate, there are 10 million buildings in the UK that need to be assessed for fire risk each year. If our system reduces, at a conservative estimate, the time needed to produce each report by 4 hours, then there’s the potential for it to save 40 million hours of writing time per year.