This post is part of a series of User Experience (UX) topics on the Dell Cloud Blog. The first two topics were UX Culture at Dell Cloud Manager and The Benefits of a UI Pattern Library. Watch for more posts about our research techniques, lean methodologies, and other UX-related topics in the coming weeks.
Everyone understands the value of good documentation, and every team wants to help take theirs to the next level. But day-to-day project work and shifting priorities can prevent meaningful contributions from true subject matter experts. So our user experience team wondered: What if we set aside a full day for all teams to focus exclusively on documentation? Would this method allow us to harness our collective knowledge and increase the value of our documentation?
Our first-ever Docs Day was a look at the state of documentation—also referred to as “console help”—within Dell Cloud Manager. Orchestrating Docs Day required coordination, editorial management, and a service leadership attitude—toward both the engineering team and the customer. The focus was on nurturing a process that ensures the highest level of quality subject matter expertise with the least amount of stress and disruption for the subject matter experts.
To carve out time for engineers to work on documentation, it was important to get buy-in from leadership. Once we received that approval, the engineering teams had top-down permission to focus on documentation for an entire day. And something that could potentially be perceived as drudgery, became more of a community event.
Our engineers welcomed the opportunity to review documentation that touched their areas of expertise. It gave them the chance to correct, expand, and brainstorm on future efforts—as well as understand how our editorial plan will allow them to keep their content up to date more easily. We are now partners in maintaining high value documentation.
Docs Day was an opportunity to flesh out things like:
Docs Day was also an opportunity to capture engineering interest and gather feedback on new processes and unification efforts—not only for in-product help, but across all points of customer-facing documentation.
The pairing of subject matter expert with their area is now recorded, so future advice and updates can be more easily requested and implemented by the technical writer. In addition, engineers company-wide now know who their central contact is for in-product documentation, so the lines of communication are open.
The final phase in the overall Dell Technical Communications process is to evaluate. And that’s precisely what Docs Day was. It was, and will continue to be, our opportunity to pull in our collective expertise to ensure our documentation is accurate, complete, and useful for our customers.
If we can measure our content, we can monitor its value—and therefore, keep ourselves on the road to continuous improvement. In combination with user research that gives us direct customer feedback, we can achieve our goal.
As we go into Q4, the focus of our next Docs Day will be on specific topics and collaborating with engineers to develop the best possible and most complete help content that we can. Each quarter, we will focus on specific needs within our documentation set, which will vary based on product development and customer feedback.
Through our first successful Docs Day, we established shared ownership of our help content with key subject matter experts. We improved our internal processes and elevated the quality of our documentation. In the end, this adds value for our customers, which is our primary goal. Every Docs Day moving forward will build on this foundation.
The Dell Cloud Manager User Experience Team welcomes your feedback and suggestions! If you’d like to join our research panel and contribute your voice to the development of Dell Cloud Manager, please visit: http://www.enstratius.com/support/usability.