Merlin Carter, the Senior Content Writer at Project A, joins us in this episode of Knowledgebase Ninjas to discuss how documentation can be an important factor in the product life cycle. Check out all the other episodes of Knowledgebase Ninjas.
Connect with Merlin and Project A Ventures Knowledgebase here:
How did Merlin get into documentation?
Originally, Merlin had no real plans to get into the documentation. He graduated in communications and journalism and moved to Germany. There, he worked as a Project Manager for a software company, although he wanted to learn fine arts.
During his studies, Merlin got a part-time job, where he worked as a product manager and found that he had a particular interest in writing product specifications. The software firm he worked with agreed and switched his role into the documentation. After that, over a period of almost ten years, Merlin has been adding value to technical documentation by trying out different roles.
Merlin’s documentation process
Merlin says they follow a ‘process flow’ or ‘agile method’ where each piece is iterated upon quickly during a two-week “sprint”. The documentation and small pieces of functionality need to be completed by the end of this sprint, before going through quality control.
This works for them, because, as Merlin explains, it “reduces their workload during down-times and they don’t get a lot of work to do at the very end”.
Documentation is an important factor in the product life cycle
Merlin believes very firmly that technical writers should also be included in the specification and planning of product features. There is “a lot of connectivity” in the documentation and if the departments would “consult with the technical writer in the design phase” that can have a massive impact on the overall quality of documentation.
Who has inspired Merlin?
Merlin mentions two women from IBM, who taught him about documentation and have had a deep influence in his work:
- Michelle Carey, Instructional Designer & Technical Editor at IBM
- Elizabeth Wilde, Technical Editor at IBM
Merlin’s top documentation related resource
- Google Cloud
- Google Analytics
Developing Quality Technical Information: A Handbook for Writers and Editors – Book by Ann Kilty Hernandez, Gretchen Hargis, and Michelle Carey
The Sense of Style: The Thinking Person’s Guide to Writing in the 21st Century – Book by Steven Pinker
- Kier Technology
One piece of advice Merlin would give to his 20-year-old self:
Had he been interested in the documentation at the time, Merlin jokes, he would probably tell himself not to document everything. There can be “too much” documentation, base your writing on the tasks assigned instead of the features contained – which was something he used to do when he began documenting.
Subscribe To Knowledgebase Ninjas: