We do so much more than writing grammatically correct content and fixing typos. We do major editing and reorganizing, website and document design, template design and formatting, rebranding, converting file formats to be used with new applications, adapting content for new audiences, project management, knowledgebase management, and publishing in a variety of formats. You’ll see from the following stories that we love challenging work. Let us put our thinking caps on both for and with you.
Challenge: While on the phone with less-than-happy customers whose products required repair, help desk agents quickly had to find the correct process to follow. Where did the customer live? Was the product new? What was its model? The help desk agents asked many questions from memory and then looked for the most appropriate Word file on their hard drive. Many steps in these long procedures overlapped. When managers changed the steps in one file, they couldn’t always remember to review and update all the related steps elsewhere.
Solution: Shenouda started where the help desk agents would: at the beginning. While converting the files to HTML and posting them on an intranet site, we created a new webpage article (procedure) that would be the starting point for every call. From there, steps branched off to other linked articles, depending on the customer’s answers to questions.
Result: By editing to minimize inconsistency and repetition, we were able to make suggestions that streamlined the actual process steps, not just the way they were documented. Agents ended up with half as many processes, which were interlinked and organized in a more logical way. Managers had less work to do when maintaining content. Best of all, customers could have their concerns addressed more quickly, with consistency and confidence, resulting in a positive customer experience—good for the customer and great for our client.
Challenge: Our client, an organization responsible for managing all of its customers’ documents, faced a challenge when one of its major customers acquired the products of an electronics firm and approximately 500 publications, with thousands of pages! Marketing collateral, user and operator guides, service manuals, training material, and internal process and procedural documents needed to be rebranded with the vital statistics of the company that made the acquisition. This included changing the company name and logo, addresses, phone numbers, trademarks, product names, part numbers and more on all of the acquired company’s documents.
Solution: Shenouda looked at several sample documents to see what needed to be changed globally and made a checklist to use when rebranding the documents. Our writers methodically revised documents (electronically). As we came across additional changes, such as contact names, job titles, dates, and prices, we updated our checklist of global changes, sought confirmation that the changes were valid, and made the additional changes. We kept a detailed spreadsheet to track progress. At any moment, we could identify the status of all documents under our control.
Result: We finished the massive effort on time and on budget. Because we were so close to the documents, we identified and corrected desktop publishing problems, such as odd page breaks, broken links, and inconsistent formatting. Because the acquiring company could not maintain documents authored in PageMaker, we converted those documents to Quark, its preferred authoring application. When we completed our work, the rebranded documents were noticeably easier to read and easier to use.
Challenge: “I received error code 555 and don’t know what to do.” “Why doesn’t the network include my printer?” When end users of our client’s products have such questions, they call the client’s support center for help. The service providers who respond to calls search a knowledgebase of thousands of documents. Their challenge is to find the needle in the haystack (i.e., the document that offers the solution), resolve the issue, and do it quickly. The next caller is waiting.
Solution: The Shenouda resource on this project had a huge task.
- First, determine how the service providers searched and navigated the knowledgebase to find information and then, enable easy access to the right documents. This involved adding titles, keywords, and an architecture that was based on the product, component, and document type.
- Based on the callers’ questions, determine the existing documents that provided the right answer. Identify the gaps in which no right answer was documented, and recommend the creation of new documents.
- Beyond making the right publications easy to locate, ensure that the contents of all documents were accurate, readable, and usable.
As you might guess, managing this knowledgebase became an ongoing effort that involved the cooperation of writers, subject matter experts, service providers, and others at the client organization.
Result: The Shenouda resource knows the architecture of the knowledgebase, knows the products, and knows when to revise existing documents and add new ones. As a result of our ongoing involvement, the service providers can access accurate information quickly and resolve their callers’ issues, retaining their customers’ loyalty and their business.
Challenge: A team at our client’s site that had been developing a complex medical device now needed to create an operator’s manual, which would be simple enough for first-time users and complete enough for those who were much more advanced. With input from all the team members, written in different styles, the source file included 200 dense, single-spaced pages. The team looked for guidance about how to make all this good information less intimidating and more approachable for our client’s customers.
Solution: The file grew even larger when Shenouda converted it to a user-friendly template with more headings and whitespace; then it started to shrink as we refined the text. Where possible, we simplified paragraphs into step-by-step procedures, tables, or graphics that could easily be skimmed. A Shenouda writer traveled cross-country to the client site to validate the steps in detail and to capture software screens and photos, both of which were later edited using Adobe Photoshop software. The more we learned, the more we were able to advocate for novice users and ask questions about gaps in the content, which resulted in Shenouda writing dozens of new pages.
Result: Although it ended up having about the same page count as the first draft, the final manual was more usable. Advanced users could skip the basics, and novices now had all the steps required to handle various situations that might arise in their work. Sometimes, as with this manual, a project requires both addition and subtraction to equal the right balance of detail.
Challenge: A worldwide company purchased products that needed to be integrated into its system of related offerings. Not only did the products require changes to meet the company’s requirements, the company also needed to make the documents comply with its own standards. This large project included source documentation consisting of over 300 pages.
Solution: Shenouda rose to the challenge of creating new documents by analyzing the source documents and studying our client’s standards, samples, templates, and controlled language requirements. We followed the direction of the project manager from the client’s publication department, depended on our subject matter experts for content accuracy, and coordinated our text with the graphics of technical illustrators. We engaged in a continual exchange of information with the entire team via face-to-face meetings, email, and telephone discussions, allowing for a constant updating of material.
Result: Our meticulous attention to detail resulted in high quality documents. The page reduction from 300+ bulky, awkward pages to 125 streamlined pages immensely trimmed the fat and improved readability. Content reviewers had minimal recommendations for improvement. With only minor changes required, we delivered ahead of schedule and under budget.
Challenge: The worldwide employee training organization for a major multi-national corporation was in the process of converting the software used for all company operations from an outdated legacy system to a totally new system. This meant that the contents of all instructor-led training programs needed to be reviewed for accuracy and then revised.
Solution: Over a span of several years, Shenouda provided on-site, full-time instructional designers who learned the new software, consulted with content experts, and revised the training material. Once the new content was complete, our staff converted the instructor-based courses to online training modules.
Result: Employees could use the corporate intranet site to complete the training modules that we created and master the new software, which they used to do their jobs. They learned the in’s and out’s of issuing purchase orders, processing payments, managing inventories, invoicing service providers, and much more! The company no longer had to shoulder the cost of having employees and instructors travel to training locations.
Moreover, employees could learn from the comfort of their electronic desktops and continue to do their regular daily work! In an environment in which every penny counts, the savings in money and time was huge. Cha-ching!
Challenge: Companies, both large and small, have approached us to develop a style guide for their writers to follow when creating publications. Because multiple writers often have their hands in a publication, and multiple voices with multiple styles do not enhance readability, there is a need for standards. From the reader’s perspective, the number of hands and voices should be transparent. After all, the reader’s goal is to deal with the content, not with inconsistencies in grammar, formatting, tone, and so forth.
Solution: We analyzed the client’s existing style guides, taking note of where stylistic standards were the same and where they were different. We reviewed a sampling of the client’s publications to identify recurring errors and inconsistencies. We researched the industry standard for the types of publications that our client distributes and recommended the best stylistic decision.
For example, we recommended spelling out numbers from zero to nine. We suggested using boldface font to emphasize a word. We indicated starting each item in a bulleted list with an uppercase letter and ending with a period only if the item was a complete sentence. Not only did we identify the contents, we determined the best way to organize topics, the best application to use to develop the guide, and the best way to distribute it.
Result: Often, we edit publications written by the same writers for whom we created a style guide. Over time, there is less and less for us to edit. This is a clear indication that the writers are following the guide and improving their writing skills. What do improved writing and improved publications mean for our clients? Their customers can assemble a new product, their technicians can install equipment, their sales force can articulate the features and benefits of new products. Then, of course, there is the bottom line. The publication may be the deciding factor for readers who are purchasing a product or service, making an investment, or selecting companies with which to do business.
Challenge: An organization within a major multi-national corporation needed to have all policies and procedures documented for compliance with ISO standards. This would enable our client to do business worldwide. Our task was to document all processes so that workers could demonstrate that they performed their tasks as documented.
Solution: Shenouda provided on-site, full-time writers to document all of the organization’s policies and procedures. The writers began by creating a template so that all documents would follow the same format and be easy to use, both for those who performed the procedure and for those who would conduct the audit. By interviewing and observing workers, Shenouda staff wrote the documents and delivered a full set of policies and standard operating procedures.
Result: On the big day, the auditors arrived. Believing their work was complete, the writers drew a breath of relief until it was discovered that a few procedures had been overlooked and the organization was at risk of failing the audit! Without hesitation, the Shenouda writers worked well into the night, researching and documenting the forgotten procedures. When the auditors returned in the morning, the gaps had been filled, and the surprised auditors indicated that our client passed the audit. We are accustomed to going the extra mile!
Challenge: A client came to us with a requirement to move legacy printed and PDF documentation into online help and website content. The challenge was to move the legacy documentation, created in Microsoft Word and Adobe FrameMaker, into an application that was flexible enough to create online help as well as guides and manuals in the PDF format.
Solution: We suggested using the application Flare by MadCap Software, which can output the same content into multiple formats, including HTML5 for online help, PDF for printed materials, and even Word and FrameMaker. The client wanted to maintain the look of its printed documentation to solidify its brand. Our Flare experts used the tools in Flare to create a style that matched the legacy look very closely and, based on that, develop a compatible design for the client’s online help systems.
Because one can build multiple documents from one Flare project, we began by organizing the legacy documents into groups of content related to the same subject. We then imported each group of Word and FrameMaker files into one Flare project. This allowed the client to keep related information together in one project and simplify the management of the deliverable documentation.
The importation into Flare allowed us to map the existing Word and FrameMaker styles to the styles we created in Flare; however, due to differences in the ways Word and FrameMaker structure their files, the mapping required tidying the Flare topic files, reorganizing the elements where necessary to achieve a set of clean, valid XML files, and then applying the new style sheet. The amount of work varied among the imported documents and depended upon the complexity of each legacy file.
Result: The client can now manage its large set of documents in a few, well-organized Flare projects. All of the printed documentation has the same, consistent look. Moving to online help and website documentation is easy and straightforward. The future looks bright for this happy client.
Challenge: At Shenouda, we even edit ourselves… continually! To keep pace with evolving technology and taste, our website needed some updates: optimization for the small screens of mobile devices as well as the large screens of computers, with less need to zoom in on or scroll through dense text, and with more visual appeal.
Solution: Several associates had used the application Flare by MadCap Software and considered it an easy choice—the right choice. Its well-designed interface eliminated or minimized the need to know any of the standard languages used in website development. It included several easily modifiable templates and all the tools needed to create a modern, easy-to-use, visually pleasing website, including:
- Responsive layouts that can be viewed and navigated with ease on any device
- Expandable text that gives the reader the choice of what to read and when
Graphic components—on the Home page and on the Our Services page
On the Home page, we freshened the look by replacing text boxes with panels that introduce, both in words and graphics, the content on the website.
On the Our Work page, we added a showcase with links to infographics that we created in Adobe Photoshop, using copyright-free images found on sites where creatives share their work. Content that was primarily words morphed into content that combines words and pictures. Infographics are now an offering on Our Deliverables.
Result: The streamlined website is more inviting—for mobile users, too. It’s optimized for a variety of devices and easier to navigate, with features that allow content to be expanded or condensed. Links provide more detail, graphics add interest, and we’re better able to show, in addition to tell, what our teamwork can accomplish for clients.
Take a look at one of our many publishing services—creating infographics, graphical representations that convey information in a more direct and powerful way, increase engagement, and pack big ideas into small spaces.
Take 12 Easy Steps to Success outlines the path to career and life success as described in Career Success in 12 Easy Steps: A Journal.
Sweet-Talkin’ Toasts in Froggy’s World of Plenty and Giving Thanks in Froggy’s World of Plenty offer a look at the life messages expressed in Living Well in Froggy’s World of Plenty: Sweet Talk to Read Aloud.
A Plate of This and That serves up samples of the many delicious recipes and heart-warming stories in A Bisl of This, A Bisl of That: Eating Our Way.
The Writing Process shows our writing process as a garden grown from seed to bountiful harvest.
With words wrapped in images, our revamped Home page welcomes website visitors inside to see how we edit ourselves continually and never stop improving.