Seeing the Big Picture

High tech companies have a lot of moving parts. There are numerous projects on the go, multiple teams at work, different divisions to oversee company operations, and the need to continually keep one eye on what’s going on outside the company as much as what’s going on inside it. It’s very easy to lose sight of the big picture with all those details to manage.

Technical communicators are often among the few people in an organization who really do see the big picture. The reason for that is because we routinely talk to other teams and departments within the company. Our work may be anchored in the development department, but because it has implications for other areas such as sales, marketing, customer support, and training, we have to develop relationships with these other stakeholders. We talk to them, and we find out about the aspects of our project that affect their deliverables.

When questions arise, who better to answer them than the technical communicator who not only can explain things clearly, but who literally “wrote the book” on the product. No one knows it better than we do, because we’ve seen it from the inside as well as the outside.

Technical communicators also are adept at facilitating communication. Even if the discussion is about something other than the product we’re working on, we help by ensuring understanding. We might pipe up with the questions that everyone is thinking but are too reticent to ask. It’s our nature, and our job, to be bold in order to get information for our users. In a group situation, we often act as the user advocate and take a kind of responsibility for ensuring that everyone is getting the message.

If you don’t have technical communicators in your organization, what else are you missing?

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