Marco Cacciacarro, Senior Technical Writer and Tools Specialist of Blackberry, joins us in this episode of Knowledgebase Ninjas to share his view on innovating in technical documentation. Check out all other episodes of Knowledgebase Ninjas Podcast here.
Connect with Marco and Blackberry here:
Marco’s journey into technical documentation
Marco was an English Literature major at his time in university, where he then got the opportunity to learn at a co-op term where you could do a short term job at several companies. Marco landed a tech-based job at Blackberry, where he worked for several terms and then got hired as a full-time employee. This instilled in him the understanding of tech operations, and he knew that this sector related to practicality and experimentation is for him. The passion for tech combined with his love for writing made it sure that this is the area of expertise for him and how tech writing has applications in almost every other business. Since then, he has been working at Blackberry and now marks the end of his 13th year of experience.
Blackberry’s documentation process
Marco talks about how tech writers are very well integrated into the research and development process at Blackberry. He signifies the importance of documentation at Blackberry by relating it to the software launch and quoted that unless the documentation stage is fulfilled the software isn’t ready for the launch and neither made official. The testing, development, and customer service groups are closely associated with the documentation process to ensure that the information presented is precise, concise, and easy to understand.
Comparatively, now after 13 years since Marco started, the smaller tech writing team at Blackberry has a more direct focus towards specific enterprise software products. The entire system has a sturdy base and encompasses processes such as:
- A thorough team peer review
- A developer, tester and support contact double-checks the created documents to ensure everything is technically accurate
- An editor proofreads every piece of content after which it is reviewed again under strict QA checks to make sure that the report is ready to be published.
Important factors to consider in a technical writing piece
For Marco, the vital factor is that the customer has no difficulty in reaching his goal and can efficiently use the product, so the documentation is purely customer need-oriented. Inside the Blackberry office, the same documents can be used to educate employees from sectors like sales and support to make them wholly understand the product and how to market it in the best way possible. The reports are distributed in both HTML and PDF format because the customers can use the HTML file to google what they’re looking for and it will be indexed entirely on the internet.
He also talks about innovativeness being a very crucial part of creating any document as it brings the team forward and helps the company evolve and learn instead of following the same stringent set of guidelines. Using advanced tools and internal team collaboration also ensures that the workload is minimised, it really helps in countering the redundancy of tasks in the documentation.
How to generate organic traffic and ensure customer engagement through documentation?
Blackberry’s technical writing team uses Adobe Experience manager solutions as a content management system. They provide documentation in both HTML and PDF because it aligns with Google, they can use the Google Analytics system to check the statistics of what the customer is looking for. Further, the team keeps the customers’ behaviour in consideration while creating a document that helps the team to ensure the optimisation of the document. Customers also use the direct search engine affiliated with Bluetooth for faster accessibility.
The future of technical writing
Marco hopes that documentation will be more about “minimalism” and “micro-content” that precise, exact, and to the point, knowledge is provided according to the customer’s requirements. Experimentation should be done to achieve educating about the concise information, in lesser words. Images, graphs and infographics can promote micro-content as an active communication poster so that customers are attracted to it and then lead them to a more detailed document.
What advice would Marco give to his 20-year-old self?
Earlier in his career, Marco would often find himself not utilising opportunities that came his way. He would find himself not taking risks often. Thus, the most crucial advice Marco would give to his 20-year old stuff is not to be afraid of trying new things.