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User-Centric Documentation with Sreya Dutta of Clover Network

Category: Podcast

Last updated on Sep 22, 2022

Sreya Dutta, Technical Writer, Developer Documentation at Clover Network, joins us in this episode of Knowledgebase Ninja to share her experience in the transformation of documentation. Check out all the other episodes of Knowledgebase Ninja’s here.

Connect with Sreya Dutta and Clover Network here:

Key Takeaways

Sreya’s journey started in Hyderabad, India, where she finished her studies and got her first job in multimedia. Passionate about graphics and animation, she was employed as an e-learning instruction designer where she worked for a company in the aviation industry. That is where she spent the first four and a half years of her career, working with group captains and dabbling in computer graphics progress software. 

Following an eight-year-long period, she moved to Oracle as a curriculum designer where she moved internally and eventually became an information developer. This avenue allowed her to learn the basics of her technical writing where she worked in product portfolio management, ERP cloud etc. It was a new arena, and fast-paced where there was a lot of learning, permitting Sreya to grow a lot more.

However, in 2018, she quit after working ten and a half years in Oracle. From there, she moved to California and joined the developer relations team in Clover Network. Since she had been in Oracle for around ten years, she had that additional experience to help her adjust to this new role. Because of her prior experience, her point of view was broader. With different deliverables attached to each side, she was able to help in educating people about their products better.

Clover Network’s documentation process

Even with the small team of writers, Sreya’s team uses scrum as their go-to tool and attaining the documentation excellence The technical writers are asked to review user stories, evaluate documents, engage in customer advocacy, and are also able to influence the bigger picture. It also depends on the scrum team as they may have different approaches to handling things. Stakeholders are factored in — a bid to be proactive and build a strong team. Furthermore, it is essential to note that a singular standard or approach is not adopted which becomes a bit of a challenge for the technical writers to adjust to. The scrum methodology is still a little new, and initially, people did not understand the point of including technical writers. But over time, their responsibilities have been actualized by recognizing that the agility, quality and efficacy of documenting is wedged through this new inclusion.

The new face of documentation 

The scrum methodology is still a little new, and initially, people did not understand the point of including technical writers into the core time. But over time, their responsibilities have been actualised by recognizing that the agility, quality and efficacy of documenting is wedged through this new inclusion. Even for a company as large as Oracle, the adjustment was difficult because it was very different from the waterfall method. With earlier access to critical information, technical writers can create a well-rounded, comprehensive document as per the desire of the user in question.

Essential factors to consider when creating documentation

According to Sreya, it is crucial to focus on simplicity and to go back to the basics. Furthermore, consideration must be given to the persona of the user, their tasks and what they are trying to achieve, what their needs are instead of trying to fill out the document with all the functions of the product. It is pertinent to note that prioritizing on what goes into the document must be in line with the user story.

A recent achievement

Sreya spoke of a recent achievement of the company where one of their company engineers was supporting developers for a new integration which was taken live without any glitches – a testimony of their quality documentation.

Who has Sreya learnt from the most in the documentation field?

Sreya believes that her entire team at Oracle as well as the larger team, including the stakeholders were people she learnt from the most. They helped her by giving robust reviews and being extremely passionate about the quality of the documentation. Similarly, the documents that were available to refer to and learn from helped her grow quite a lot. 

Sreya’s favourite documentation related resources

Sreya feels that it is not a particular book, but a series of podcasts, visuals and articles that have helped her learn more about the documentation sector.

What documentation related advice would Sreya give to her 20-year-old self?

Sreya says she would tell her younger self to focus on the user by putting herself in their shoes, understanding their daily routine such that it gives her a perspective on what detail they require. Moreover, understanding the level of knowledge of the user i.e. basic, advanced, business level to understand clearly what their requirements are.

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Gowri Ramkumar

Sep 23, 2020

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