Researching information, creating graphics, identifying and understanding standards, defining target audiences, developing an editorial guide, writing in a user-oriented manner, authoring in the content management system or even introducing a new system, and much more:
The list of challenges and tasks in the field of technical documentation is both long and varied. It's therefore no wonder that numerous training courses are offered for this professional field or that it's even possible to complete a course of study spanning several years. But despite training and practical experience, it quickly becomes apparent that the wide range of specialist knowledge can hardly be kept fresh during day-to-day work. Other departments are responsible for certain tasks, the product range of one's own company already specifies certain standards, historically grown documents set the standard – routine daily business inevitably leads to the unfortunate fact that some knowledge no longer gets used.
What can you do if this knowledge needs to be refreshed? Or are you faced with a challenge that no one at your company feels up to anymore?
Don't panic! We can help you – a workshop or training course could be just the thing for you.
A workshop or maybe a training course?
Whether you're better off with a workshop or a training course depends upon your specific needs and your goal. In a training course, you're given specific expertise on a particular topic, in the sense of traditional face-to-face instruction, so to speak.
In a workshop, on the other hand, all participants work together on a solution and apply specialist knowledge (e.g. in the form of methodological knowledge). The entire process is led and controlled by neutral instructors, who use their moderation skills to drive results.
The content and structure of the workshop is individually tailored to both your needs and your company – so there are many ways to strengthen cooperation in your team and find solutions together.
Let's take a closer look at what's important here.
When does a workshop make sense?
The reasons for a workshop are at least as varied as the world of technical documentation, itself. The potential group of participants can also be very diverse and doesn't necessarily have to just consist of technical editors.
Our experience has shown that most customers contact us with similar questions and problems on this topic. To give you an idea about this, we've summarised the key points for you:
When important know-how is lost...
Knowledge loss as a risk factor: When experienced technical editorial professionals leave a company, valuable process and tool know-how is usually lost as well.
In a workshop, we develop methods for capturing, structuring and tool-supported management of your technical editors' expert knowledge.
The flow of information – just a babbling brook?
The tasks are actually clearly distributed: The specialist departments provide the technical editorial team with the necessary information about the individual life cycle phases of a new product on time – at least that's the theory. During stressful day-to-day project work, however, this doesn't always work out. The technical editors then miss important information, and the completion of the documentation tasks become only a distant prospect. Why does the flow of information get bogged-down? It's often not clearly defined which process participants are involved in the central sources of information and therefore have a duty to provide information to the technical editors. A workshop with a neutral moderator (who keeps the goal in mind) is the perfect opportunity to get all stakeholders around the table and work together on constructive solutions.
New tool, new challenges
Staff bottlenecks, increasing documentation volumes or the pivot to digital information: technical editorial departments have to hold their own on a wide variety of fronts in the face of significantly increasing demands.
New and powerful technical editorial tools are an effective way of increasing the efficiency of processes. However, during day-to-day work, disappointment often awaits: the tool is not used as originally planned and users leave important functions unused. What can you do? In a workshop, we develop steps to implement a successful system rollout. We get your team on board and find a way to adapt your technical editorial workflow to the new tool.
Identify optimisation potential and increase efficiency
You've been working with the same processes for years, but you keep stumbling over similar problems, which slows down your efficiency. Also, deadline pressure and precious resources leave no room to even think about optimisation. Our IT consultants are there to support you in all aspects of optimisation and automation, and they help you to uncover unused potential during a process workshop.
Many approaches, many possibilities – we're there for you
As you can see, there are many different scenarios for which it's worth considering targeted knowledge transfer. But even if you don't find your company or your problem somewhere within the list, we'd like to invite you to check out our wide range of services.
For each of the topics listed there, we naturally have the corresponding expertise and, in principle, each of the services offered is also conceivable for you in the format of an appropriately designed workshop. So if something catches your eye that's been an issue at your company for a long time, or if you're confronted with a problem that touches on one of our offers, please contact us! Together with you, we'll consider how we can meaningfully address your issue.
What a workshop can look like...
With all the theory about when, how, and under what circumstances a workshop might be worthwhile for you, let's take a look at the practical side of things: How would you imagine the process of a customer workshop?
First of all, it depends – especially during current times – on whether you choose an online or in-person event. Both are possible and both offer advantages and disadvantages. Conducting a workshop purely online is, of course, much easier to implement, as none of the participants have to travel, the length of the meeting can be flexibly arranged, and you're therefore more likely to find a suitable day in the calendar. However, it should be noted that concentration can be maintained for a much shorter time during an online event than in a face-to-face event. It's hardly possible to work together productively for more than a half-day in a virtual meeting, so several individual meetings are usually necessary.
If, on the other hand, everyone gets together in one room, the moderator can easily guide the participants and thus productively deliver a completed workshop day. In addition, a face-to-face event offers the advantage that all participants literally (and figuratively) have the same perspective. This approach can have a positive effect on the overall outcome of the workshop in many respects, as the opinions, assessments and emotions of the other participants can be better understood.
Another key factor is the choice of both methods and tools. These also differ, depending on the online or face-to-face event, but of course they also depend on the topic and the expected outcome of the workshop. In one case, a digital whiteboard on which everyone can brainstorm at the same time may make sense; in another case, a targeted creative method and large poster are more likely to achieve the desired goal. Lego blocks can also be used within the context of process optimisation. In this video (presented in German), our colleague from the Solution Factory, Christoph Beenen, explains what this is all about, in conversation with our Head of Sales, Manuel Welter.
Last but not least, the topic of the workshop itself determines both its scope and schedule. Some topics can be dealt with in just one day, while some other topics may require two (or even more) days.
...and what happens afterwards?
The successful conclusion of a workshop is only half the battle. After all, you've analysed your problem in detail together with an expert in your working group and have thus first gotten a bird's eye view of it. Now it's time to take this knowledge back to your company and apply it. This analysis, combined with your newly acquired expertise, enables you to take the necessary next steps. You can use your knowledge to formulate your case in a solution-oriented manner in upcoming discussions or to explain the advantages and disadvantages of certain decisions to your colleagues.
The result of a workshop is a customised roadmap that shows you the solution path for your specific task. This approach can, of course, be applied should you face a similar challenge in the future. However, our work doesn't have to end with the end of the workshop and the definition of your roadmap. We can continue to support you through each of the planned steps.
Now it's up to you
Let's keep in mind: The form and implementation of a workshop is unique and depends on a variety of factors. At kothes, we design your workshop entirely according to your needs and don't simply take something "off the shelf". On one hand, you benefit from our many years of experience in workshop design, and on the other hand from our comprehensive expertise in technical documentation. Our facilitators are themselves active in their fields and can therefore provide you with valuable input.
But regardless of what a workshop might look like for you and which experts we provide, one thing is for sure: actively working on a topic in a select group is sustainable and opens up fresh perspectives – even on the most difficult challenges.
Let's find out together what opportunities can open up for you!