How a CMS Can Broaden Technical Writers

Technical writing is considered by some to be a dead-end job. That does not need to be the case! The introduction of a content management system (CMS) into a technical communications department creates new opportunities for employee development, particularly for writers with years of experience. Take a look at some of the many job possibilities for technical writers.

Information Architect or Content Strategist
Information architects or content strategists are the likely next steps for senior writers in a content management environment. You know the in’s and out’s of the content and you know the business goals, visions, and strategies. This information is extremely valuable when developing the content model and modular organization of content in the new system.

Documentation Team Leader
If you were responsible for maintaining a style guide or process guidelines, the content management system will have plenty of customizations for your group that will need to be documented and explained.  That’s where a documentation team leader comes into play. If you’re the documentation team leader, you act as the creator of new procedures and developing best practices to reach your goals.

Senior Level Writer or Project Manager
You may be perfectly happy to continue writing rather than moving into a new role. But you can be given more responsibility, such as overseeing a new chunk of modular content that may span multiple products, monitoring maps, or contributing to CMS project plans. Being promoted to a senior level will increase your visibility in the organization.

Publishing Expert, Stylesheet Developer, or XML Analyst
Individuals who have experience formatting templates and stylesheets could very easily be qualified for any of these positions.  These positions act as the keeper of the templates and stylesheets. When they need to be updated, these individuals make sure the updates are done according to the requirements requested by the company. XML analysts work closely with other departments of the company to implement solutions that enhance and automate the management of the company’s systems utilizing business analysis and technical skills.

Business Analyst or Instructional Designer
People in the business analyst or instructional designer role help to contribute to specifications in the software’s usability and design. They are trained in a specific software program, and they tend to become an expert at it. Software tools have lots of different modules, creating the need for someone who is well-versed in them to guide the usability and design.

And the list goes on…
Other roles include: Technical editor, content management specialist or administrator, conversion specialist, localization coordinator, trainer, reviewer, and more. Since some of these roles may only require part-time attention, multiple roles may be combined into one job. And, depending on the type of CMS your organization chooses (i.e., perpetual license or hosted CMS), some roles may vary in the level of responsibility.

Content management systems are changing the way technical writing is done, so writers must be flexible in order to adapt to these changes. It is essential to keep an open mind during the CMS implementation process. One way to do that is to get involved in the CMS implementation from the very beginning. It will help you understand how a CMS will benefit you in your daily responsibilities. And, it could be your path to a new and exciting career in the future.

Call us at 717-764-9720 or visit our website for help in getting started with your content management strategy.

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