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Qualities and Requirements to Become a Lead Technical Writer with Anil Hanagud, Documentation Manager at Cisco Systems

Category: Podcast

Last updated on Sep 22, 2022

In this episode of The Knowledgebase Ninjas Podcast, Gowri Ramkumar is joined by Anil Hanagud, Documentation Manager at Cisco Systems. They discuss innovations in technical writing, the documentation process-flow of Cisco Systems, and the qualities and requirements to become a lead technical writer. 

Key Facts

  • Anil’s LinkedIn
  • Cisco Systems website 
  • Anil holds a degree in Computer Science from the University of Mysore 
  • Anil has been associated with the technical writing industry for more than sixteen years 
  • Cisco Systems is an American multinational technology conglomerate corporation with headquarters in San Jose, California 
  • Cisco Systems manufactures and sells networking software, hardware, telecommunications gear, and various high-tech products and services 

Key Takeaways 

  • Anil started his technical writing journey at Tally Solutions in 2005. He joined Cisco in 2010 as a technical writer. After working there for a few years, his manager quit, and he was given the managerial role. He has been a lead writer at Cisco for eleven years now. 
  • Talking about evolution in technical documentation, Anil shares that when he started his career as a technical writer in 2005, his team created documents using MS Word and shipped PDFs to customers. He then learned about Adobe FrameMaker, a single-sourcing content platform that helps you create documents using formats other than text/manuals such as videos to communicate with the customers
  • The documentation process at Cisco: 
    • Engineers share the functional specification and how to configure various features of the product with the writers
    • Writers use these specification documents as a guide to write and refer to training conducted by engineers 
    • The final document is self-reviewed, peer-reviewed, and after being signed off by the engineers, goes to the editorial board 
  • Anil advises technical writers looking to venture into a lead documentation role to master the documentation process-flow, the tech stack being used, and their people skills  
  • Anil believes that the most important innovation in documentation is video documentation, especially when it comes to quick references or useful instructions pertaining to using different features  

Anil Hanagud’s biggest influence 

  • Anupama A (former STC India president), Anil’s manager at CDC Software, is his biggest influence, who he worked with as a technical writer from 2006-2010

Key resources

What documentation-related advice would Anil give to his 20-year-old self?

Anil would tell his twenty year-old-self to learn how to write scripts and make videos.  

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