Of Bees, Honey and Humans…
About three months ago I was invited to present at a small Technical Communication event called Technical Writers @ Lisbon. The floor was busy and the attendees were getting seated. As I was waiting my turn, I heard a very interesting question from a guy standing next to me – “Why are we calling ourselves Technical Writers @ Anywhere? I do so much more than writing! This should have a different name.“
While it had always been obvious to me, listening to a stranger so vehemently challenge the traditional job title was eye-opening. I guess it’s easy to think of it as just writing. But for a good technical writer, writing is just the corollary of everything else. The journey of understanding the product, researching its capabilities and testing product limits is the holy grail of gratification. Producing the documentation is a purposeful output of this challenging but rewarding process.
The Alphabet Soup
The reality is while bees have honed an exceptionally complex system of information exchange, far less can be said of humans who have more sophisticated and technical tools at hand for sharing knowledge. Simply put, knowledge sharing for the greater good cannot be taught – it has to be ingrained. Most companies never get there because they are either already too big and heavy, or because they don’t see the value/don’t have dedicated resources. Either way, the result is the same: siloed information and a disjointed knowledge experience for the customer.
At Feedzai our goal is to take everything one step further – in a simple yet noble pursuit of simplicity and perfection. To that effect, our foundation is not only to reduce friction in the payment ecosystem but also to reduce friction in the seamless flow of knowledge.
Can we take it one step further?
Imagine Sales getting back to a prospect using a link to a documentation piece instead of writing a long email or reusing a generic reply from previous engagements. Imagine this piece, and related ones, being fed with technical content in alignment with the company’s market positioning. Imagine that all the documentation is tightly integrated with how the software engineers already work. What if articulating knowledge across functions – engineering, delivery and market-facing teams – is made seamless with the right technology to support it ?
We’re past imagining it, we’re getting it into place!
Focus on the Knowledge
Having the technical knowledge, which is deeply rooted in engineering experience and sharing it with a non-technical audience in a way that is simple yet empowering is a critical mission.
To that effect our technical documentation is grounded on 3 major pillars – People, Process and Publication.
People With Expertise
Knowledge sharing is a culture at Feedzai – all SME’s are actively involved when producing documentation. Projects are managed with a sizeable chunk of time allocated to technical documentation.
Dedicated technical communication experts act as the customer advocate. They are able to guide the content creation and transform technical jargons into useable features that help empowers users to make the best use of the product.
Having these two types of experts working in tandem is a very powerful combination.
Process With a Purpose
A well thought-out process around knowledge production and sharing is also paramount.
Open communication channels enable continuous collaboration among experts. And the right infrastructure prevents these channels from becoming a burden on top of the regular daily workload.
Infrastructure does not have to be a super complex content management systems or similar approaches. Not only are they expensive and heavy to plan but also difficult to implement and maintain. At the end of the day it should not represent a massive overhead for an agile organization.2
The good news is that there are simpler solutions that pack a ton of value and flexibility. Take for instance, single-sourcing the technical content and versioning it like you would version a code. Open-source tools can be used for output processing and automation and a bit of the old in-house software engineering skills to customize and glue everything together. A next step further would be to have the documentation living in the same repository as the code, going through the same review and automation procedures.
Publications Within Reach
People are increasingly abandoning traditional formats, such as PDFs, or other linear ways of consuming software technical content. There is an increasing demand to provide online accessibility to maximize the reach for published content. In today’s connected world, web capabilities have necessitated the access to knowledge be easy and seamless.
While having a general documentation section under the main website is great it’s just not enough. Enhancing user experience requires blending together platforms like single-page sites that teach everything about external APIs along with articles, knowledge bases, interactive FAQs and community forums where experts contribute with valuable insights. This is what a web-oriented knowledge architecture enables us to do.
Feedzai for Ecommerce delivers the power of machine learning to big merchants and big brands to keep payments safe and commerce moving. We democratize machine learning through intuitive interfaces and simplified documentation so risk teams are empowered to use sophisticated algorithms to combat fraud with greater ease. To learn more about Feedzai for Ecommerce and machine learning, download our popular e-book, A Primer To Machine Learning for Fraud Prevention.
By Nuno Grazina, Technical Knowledge Manager at Feedzai
Coming from a Computer Science background, Nuno has collected several technical and business experiences along the way, and produced all kinds of collateral for different audiences.
Living in the tech space, he has always pursued the goal of bridging the knowledge gap that usually makes complex technology inaccessible and hard to adopt.
1. The Wisdom of Bees – Michael-O Malley
2. Tom Johnson makes quite a compelling case for some of these points in his blog: http://idratherbewriting.com/2015/11/06/replace-ccms-with-version-control/