bookmark_borderEverything Changes

A new year, a fresh challenge.

I’ve been working in the Technical Communications field my entire career. From those first days, stumbling my way around FrameMaker 4 with only a vague idea of what I should be doing (and largely using the FrameMaker User Guide as a sample of both approach and layout) to my current incarnation as Product Information Manager which involves running a team of 6 technical writers, looking at what other services we could offer to other parts of the (now) global organisation I’m part of, not to mention running a developer community website and generally advocating a product view wherever possible.

Actually, make that my previous incarnation.

As of today I’m changing roles, with a new job title of Product Operations Manager.

I’ll be working within the Product Management Team dealing with operations issues, planning and so on, and generally helping the Product Managers, and Senior Architects do their day jobs (the phrase ‘herding cats’ has been used on more than one occasion so far).

It’s very exciting, a little bit scary (in a good way), and a big step out of my comfort zone of technical communications. Whilst the principles of managing a team with multiple deliverables and differing focus areas is something I’ve been doing for a while, it’s good to have a new challenge.

The new role will take me away from technical communications, and whilst I’ll still retain a passing interest I know myself well enough that it’s only a matter of time before I lose track of developments and trends altogether. I am a sucker for new things!

I’m not sure what that means for this blog, or my other interactions with the technical communications community, but I’ll figure that out in good time.

Meanwhile, I’ve got a job description, a new boss, new teammates and a whole new world to get my head into and it’s all kicking off this week. Hence why I’m sat in a hotel room in Sunnyvale writing this blog post.

Anyway, first things first.


bookmark_borderWhat is your job title?

In the past I’ve held the following positions:

  • Technical Administrator
  • Technical Writer
  • Documentation Specialist
  • Technical Communications Manager
  • Publications Team Leader

The first three have similarities as they were all grounded in the production of technical documentation. The latter two are essentially the same thing, leading a team of technical writers producing technical information. None of the job titles I had limited me, by my thinking, in what I could and couldn’t do.

My current job title, as confirmed on my new business cards which handily arrived just AFTER I’d been to TCUK12, is Product Information Manager. I didn’t choose this but, whilst talking through my role and responsibilities recently, I realised it’s pretty accurate.

The team I’m part of does a lot more than write technical documentation. We create many different types of information, mostly recently writing more chatty article style content, and we get involved in all manner of product related discussions. We’ve also driven the creation of a developer community website, and we continue to look for new ways to improve our offering to the product and the company.

As the onus and value of information shifts, largely influenced by the web, it’s been something that we’ve actively pushed. Whilst our work is still mostly based around the production of information (albeit in increasingly different styles and formats) we are also pushing into the area of user experience.

Having to step back to explain my roles and responsibilities was something I don’t do often enough. It’s sometimes easy to forget how far things have changed and improved, and it made me realise that my new job title is more accurate than I’d realised. My team is a product focussed team.

The realisation matters not, however, and we will continue to push to improve, try new things and if those things aren’t of benefit to us we will try others. Above all we try and keep in mind that we are working on a product, and that makes it all the easier for us to have conversations with other parts of the company.

Am I a “Product Information Manager”, not quite yet I don’t think. Whilst my team do offer various types of information about the product, we don’t yet have a hooked up strategy for the entire product, and that’s where content strategy comes to play.

Regardless, it is the first time I’ve really felt like my job description represents what I actually do and, more importantly, that is suggests that there is more to come.

What’s your job title? Is it a good representation of what you do? If you could, what would you change it to?