Reinventing Content Publishing – Lessons Learned

Over the past few years, more and more software companies have begun shifting some content work away from traditional technical writer roles and toward having some product documentation authored by product managers, program managers, or engineers. The Microsoft Dynamics AX organization made this shift nearly 3 years ago, requiring the content publishing team to reinvent itself. This talk focuses on what the team has learned throughout this change: what’s working well, what’s not, what changes still need to be made, and what this shift has meant for the roles of technical writers in the Microsoft Dynamics AX organization. The talk also provides a look at how other teams at Microsoft are creating their documentation and where they fall in the spectrum of traditional technical writing vs. authoring done by engineering or product management teams.

What attendees can expect to learn

This talk looks at how the Microsoft Dynamics AX content publishing team reinvented their roles, authoring tools, and content creation and publishing processes in an environment where staffing levels are so low that writers can no longer write. You’ll learn about this team’s experience in moving away from traditional content publishing practices and instead, collaborating with other subject matter experts in planning content, identifying appropriate authors, incenting subject matter experts to create the content, and leveraging teams outside of Content Publishing to ensure content quality. You’ll learn which aspects of these changes have been effective, which have been painful, which have failed, and what the roadmap of planned changes looks like. You’ll also hear the results of a brief survey of how other content publishing teams across Microsoft are working.

Meet the Presenter

Ann Beebe has been leading content publishing teams at Microsoft for 20 years. She’s managed the documentation teams for Microsoft SQL Server, Microsoft Business Framework, Visual Studio, Home and Small Business Server, and is currently leading the documentation teams for Microsoft Dynamics’ AX and GP products. Prior to joining Microsoft, Ann managed documentation, training, and corporate communications for Barfield, Cauthen & Associates in Atlanta, and managed documentation and usability teams for Sales Technologies, Inc. in Atlanta.

In addition to creating content that helps people do their jobs more successfully, the aspects of her work that Ann loves the most are developing teams, creating an environment that people want to be part of, working with a diverse group of people, and helping people grow in their jobs. Some of the most exciting parts of Ann’s work right now are leading her team in developing and delivering a new content model, with a much smaller footprint than traditional content has, which focuses on creating very targeted content to help customers accomplish business processes.

Ann holds a BA in Journalism from the University of Central Florida and an MS in Information Design and Communication from Southern Polytechnic State University in Atlanta.

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