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Published on March 18th, 2006 | by Rahel Bailie


Hiring decisions change along with process maturity

The ways that companies hire technical writers changes as companies mature. I stumbled across an article by JoAnn Hackos who talks about what we in the technical communication industry have discussed amongst ourselves for as long as I can remember. The difference is that Hackos articulates it will and puts the discussion into the framework of a process maturity model.
Briefly, the steps go like this:

  • Level 1: Do it ourselves. The developers put together some documentation as time allows.
  • Level 2: Do it yourself. The development manager hires a self-starter who understands the technology can operate without much supervision, and hopes the writer knows how to creating content.
  • Level 3: Do we know a writer? The technology team realizes that, like an accountant needs to know about accounting principles rather than the company’s technology, a technical communicator needs to know about content development models and have solid abilities in that field.
  • Level 4: Hire team members. The management team shifts to realize that content is an integral part of product development, and the writer becomes more of a developer whose development area is content instead of code.
  • Level 5: Look for contributors. The executive team recognizes the critical value of content to the success of the product and makes room at the table for someone who can make strategic decicions around how content can contribute to product value, be leveraged for additional purposes, and drive development efficiencies.

Where is your organization on the process maturity scale?

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About the Author

Rahel Anne Bailie is a synthesizer of content strategy, requirements analysis, information architecture, and content management to increase the ROI of content. She has consulted for clients in a range of industries, and on several continents, whose aim is to better leverage their content as business assets. Founder of Intentional Design, she is now the Chief Knowledge Officer of London-based Scroll. She is a Fellow of the Society for Technical Communication, she has worked in the content business for over two decades. She is co-author of Content Strategy: Connecting the dots between business, brand, and benefits, and co-editor of The Language of Content Strategy, and is working on her third content strategy book,

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