Inside Tech Comm with Zohra Mutabanna

Zohra Mutabanna

Inside Tech Comm is a show for anyone interested in learning more about technical communication. It will also be of interest to those who are new to the field or career-switchers exploring creative ways to expand their horizon. You can write to me at insidetechcomm@gmail.com. I would love to hear from you.

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S3E9 Smart Strategies for Saving Costs with Machine Translation and Going Global with Lisa Zarfl
Aug 19 2022
S3E9 Smart Strategies for Saving Costs with Machine Translation and Going Global with Lisa Zarfl
Lisa Zarfl comes from the beautiful city of Graz, Austria. I met Lisa at a conference, and her presentation on machine translations inspired me to bring her on the show. In this latest episode, we talk about all things translation. More specifically, machine translation (MT) and how it can help a business reach a global audience while saving costs. We talk about how technical writers can help the company save costs upfront with the translation before they are deep into the process.  Tune in right away as Lisa has all the nuggets for you.Some questions we do a deep dive into:What is machine translation (MT)?What does the process for MT look like?Is MT based on artificial intelligence?Will MT replace the need for human translators? If not, why?How does an LSP (Language Service Provider) discern which type of content is best suited for MT?What is the difference between internalization and localization?What are the top 3 things that technical writers need to do before they consider translation for their content?Guest BioIn Lisa's own words..My name is Lisa Zarfl. I’m a project manager and in-house translator at MadTranslations based in Graz/Austria. I have several years of experience in the translation industry, specifically in managing the translation of MadCap Flare projects. My job allows me to follow my passion by combining the technological aspects of documentation with the demands of multilingual environments.You can connect with Lisa on LinkedIn. Audio Engineer - RJ Basilio
S3E9 Smart Strategies for Saving Costs with Machine Translation and Going Global with Lisa Zarfl
Aug 19 2022
S3E9 Smart Strategies for Saving Costs with Machine Translation and Going Global with Lisa Zarfl
Lisa Zarfl comes from the beautiful city of Graz, Austria. I met Lisa at a conference, and her presentation on machine translations inspired me to bring her on the show. In this latest episode, we talk about all things translation. More specifically, machine translation (MT) and how it can help a business reach a global audience while saving costs. We talk about how technical writers can help the company save costs upfront with the translation before they are deep into the process.  Tune in right away as Lisa has all the nuggets for you.Some questions we do a deep dive into:What is machine translation (MT)?What does the process for MT look like?Is MT based on artificial intelligence?Will MT replace the need for human translators? If not, why?How does an LSP (Language Service Provider) discern which type of content is best suited for MT?What is the difference between internalization and localization?What are the top 3 things that technical writers need to do before they consider translation for their content?Guest BioIn Lisa's own words..My name is Lisa Zarfl. I’m a project manager and in-house translator at MadTranslations based in Graz/Austria. I have several years of experience in the translation industry, specifically in managing the translation of MadCap Flare projects. My job allows me to follow my passion by combining the technological aspects of documentation with the demands of multilingual environments.You can connect with Lisa on LinkedIn. Audio Engineer - RJ Basilio
S3E8 Through the Lens of a Scrum Master - Speak Up and Advocate for Yourself with Jennifer Savage
Aug 3 2022
S3E8 Through the Lens of a Scrum Master - Speak Up and Advocate for Yourself with Jennifer Savage
I have been out of pocket for the summer visiting family in India and taking some time off. I hope you are having a safe and fun summer. I am happy to be back in the saddle...In this latest episode, I chat with Jennifer Savage, a Scrum Master at FinThrive. Since Jennifer was a technical writer back in the day, she has some great nuggets to share on the parallels between the two roles, and how she continues to find value and advocate for us. Isn't that awesome? Well, here are some questions we delve into:What are the similarities between the two roles - tech writer and scrum master?What does the partnership between a tech writer and scrum master look like?How are writers embedded in the scrum process given they are a shared resource at your company? What are some ways for technical writers to find visibility on a scrum team when they are sidelined in the process?Why is the content that technical writers create important for you and the business?What are some pointers for writers to represent and advocate for themselves from a scrum master perspective?Guest BioIn Jennifer's own words...I graduated from the University of Texas at Austin with a Bachelor of Journalism.  About the time I was entering the workforce, journalism jobs were few and far between as the print media was transitioning into the online space.  My first position out of college was as a newsletter editor/writer for a small publishing company.  From there I transitioned into other writing roles over years, from business writing to medical writing to entertainment writing, and ended up in a technical writer role at my current company.  I was brought into the company in its early days to create and publish all of the end-user documentation for their software offerings.  As a tech writer, I worked on a number of delivery teams using Agile methodologies, and after about 7 years, I moved into a Scrum Master role.  I am currently a Senior Scrum Master for several delivery teams at FinThrive, based in Plano.  While I enjoy my role as a Scrum Master, I have a soft spot for documentation and have always made sure they get a fair shake in our planning activities when completing product increments for our software updates.  I live in Frisco with my husband, my teenage son, and four cats. In my spare time, I volunteer with local animal welfare organizations and enjoy traveling with my family.  graduated from the University of Texas at Austin with a Bachelor of Journalism.  About the time I was entering the workforce, journalism jobs were few and far between as the print media was transitioning into the online space.  You can connect with Jennifer on LinkedIn.Audio Engineer - RJ Basilio
S3E7: Documentation is your Frontline Defense - Find Out How with Caity Cronkhite
Jul 3 2022
S3E7: Documentation is your Frontline Defense - Find Out How with Caity Cronkhite
Have you ever thought of documentation being sexy? Probably not. Caity Cronkhite argues otherwise. She wholeheartedly believes documentation is sexy. She shares excellent advice for companies and writers to embrace this low-hanging fruit that can get excellent dividends if executed correctly.What did our conversation touch upon?Caity's journey from a writer to an entrepreneur.How did Caity scale her entrepreneurial adventure while taking other writers with her?When the market gets tough, Good Words keeps growing. How is that possible?What is the measure of good and stable documentation? How does good documentation allow companies to scale?How is documentation doing the frontline work for you?Why should writers unapologetically earn their seats at the table? Guest BioAbout the founder:  Caity was born and raised on a remote farm in rural Indiana. She eventually left her prairie roots to attend Carnegie Mellon University, where she received a degree in Technical Writing and Communication. After college, Caity went west—first to the San Francisco Bay Area, then to Seattle—to start her career as a technical writer and, eventually, an entrepreneur. She is passionate about using her personal and professional experience to uplift others, including advocating for increased labor and wage protections for freelance workers and creating a company that empowers its employees with meaningful career opportunities no matter where they live.Caity currently lives in Seattle, Washington. When she’s not running her company, she enjoys gardening, bodybuilding, road trips, mentoring, and restoring her historic Seattle home.About the business: Caity Cronkhite is the founder and CEO of Good Words LLC. Good Words is the premier technical writing and communications consulting firm, delivering ongoing strategic, management, and implementation support for our clients’ technical writing needs. Good Words’ consultants bring their concise and accurate writing skills and ongoing strategic plans to streamline even the most complex communications for some of the most technically sophisticated companies across industries, from Fortune 500 companies to 5-person startups. For more information, visit us at www.goodwordswriting.com.Some resources worth checking out:The Good Words Blog: website: LinkedIn page: Engineer - RJ Basilio
S3E6: Embrace Discomfort and Challenge the Status Quo for Advocacy and Visibility with Swapnil Ogale
Jun 19 2022
S3E6: Embrace Discomfort and Challenge the Status Quo for Advocacy and Visibility with Swapnil Ogale
In this tete-a-tete, Swapnil Ogale shares with us the evolution of technical communication in Australia, especially since the pandemic. Until recently, there was little to no awareness of technical communication at many companies. Swapnil took it upon himself to become the voice of the field, create awareness, and advocate for its adoption and impact on business. Some interesting questions that we dove into:What is the technical communication landscape look like in Australia?What is a technical writer advocate?How did Swapnil perform his own tech comm retrospective to elevate his role and make it visible?What is the Amazon narrative, and how can someone use this narrative before starting a  project?What are some strategies to raise the profile of a tech writer at a company and beyond?These are the links I refer to in the episode: The Not So Boring Tech Writer where I chanced upon Swapnil's interview Amazon narrativeTemplate for the tech comm retrospectiveIf you are looking for openings, Redocly has opportunities. Click here for doc roles.Guest BioSwapnil has over 16 years of technical documentation experience across a range of industries in Australia and globally. He currently works as a Technical Writer in the Solutions Engineering team at AWS Australia. Prior to this, he was a Technical Writer Advocate at Redocly, pursuing his passion for writing, along with advocating for the docs-as-code approach for product content. He initiated the Write the Docs community in Australia in 2016 and has been organizing local meetups and the annual national conference. While he is not traveling, stuck reading any book he can lay his hands on, or trying out new food, he presents at technical meetups and conferences about various things around technical writing. Audio Engineer - RJ Basilio
S3E5 Delighting Your Customers  - How to Craft Meaningful UX as a Content Developer with Ellyn Hassell
Jun 5 2022
S3E5 Delighting Your Customers - How to Craft Meaningful UX as a Content Developer with Ellyn Hassell
Ellyn Hassell says, "I want to delight the customer, I want to make sure that I'm doing everything that I can to make this a really amazing experience, help them get their job done, move through the task, and move on."In this heart-to-heart conversation, Ellyn shares with us her experience and insights to create a delightful experience for the customer. She is continually striving to elevate our profession and earn a seat at the table with other disciplines. Learn the unique ways in which her efforts have contributed to product success in myriad ways, especially in user experience (UX).Some questions we delve into:How do you collaborate with UX, Marketing, and other teams? What does "success" look like when you are partnering with other disciplines?How can you remove roadblocks and assert yourself as a writer in situations where you are challenged? How can you elevate your status as a tech writer? Some common abbreviations and terms mentioned in this episode:RDO - Research, Delivery, and Operations (RDO) divisionSCD - Strategic Content DevelopmentSME - Subject Matter ExpertsUX - User ExperienceSKY UX - SKY UX is the next generation of Blackbaud's user experience framework that provides a consistent, cohesive user experience for Blackbaud products. UI - User InterfaceTriad - This is a scrum meeting. Triads may vary from organization to organization, but mostly the triad at Blackbaud consists of the Product Owner (or the Product Manager), the UX Designer, and the Dev team.Guest BioEllyn Hassell is a Sr. Principal Technical Writer at Blackbaud. She leads multiple efforts around UX writing and user assistance patterns that promote innovation and consistency. Supporting several development teams, Ellyn collaborates across disciplines to create a meaningful impact throughout Blackbaud. Other interests include internationalization, usability, syntax standards, and accessibility with the end goal of delighting Blackbaud customers. Ellyn is a proud alumna of East Carolina University (Go Pirates!) where she holds a B.A. and M.A. in English with a concentration in technical writing. She’s presented at numerous local, district, and international conferences, and served as guest editor of User Experience and several other technical and creative publications. Ellyn lives with her husband and two children on the beautiful Chickahominy River in Williamsburg, VA. You can connect with Ellyn on LinkedIn.Audio Engineer - RJ Basilio
S3E1 Discovering the Benefits of Academia and Corporate Partnership with Kim Campbell
Mar 31 2022
S3E1 Discovering the Benefits of Academia and Corporate Partnership with Kim Campbell
We are launching Season 3 with a very special episode. In this interview with Kim Campbell, I embark on a journey to understand how academia is preparing the next generation of technical communicators. My aim is to spotlight how the Department of Technical Communication at the University of North Texas, in particular, is collaborating with the practitioners of the profession to bring a hands-on experience to the students and prepare them for the real world. Kim touches upon the disconnect that exists sometimes between academia and the industry, and how a collaboration between the two is the need of the hour for the betterment of the profession and the community at large.  Some questions we touch upon:What are the drawbacks of having tech comm housed in a humanities department?What's the objective of an academic partnership with the corporate world?One of the biggest challenges that academics face is studying what's happening at organizations in our field. Why is this access critical and what can be done about it?What does success look like in academia?Guest BioKim Sydow Campbell, Ph.D., is a linguist who has been studying workplace language for more than 30 years. She joined the Department of Technical Communication at the University of North Texas in 2016, where she now serves as Director of Corporate Relations, promoting constructive interactions among industry professionals, students, and faculty. When she isn't doing research or teaching, you'll find her cooking, watching movies, swimming, or just hanging with her family and fur babies. You can connect with Kim on LinkedIn at
S2E6 Roadmap to API Writing: Strategies for Success with Robert Delwood
Nov 15 2021
S2E6 Roadmap to API Writing: Strategies for Success with Robert Delwood
In this final episode of Season 2, Robert Delwood, a former NASA engineer, sheds light on how technical writers can pivot to API writing. It is a special skillset and mindset. Listen to this exclusive episode to find out how you can acquire this skill and make it in this high-in-demand career. Per the website programmableweb.com, approximately 2000 APIs are added each year. For each API, roughly 2-3 writers are needed. Given this exponential rise in APIs, there is obviously a growing demand for API writers. But, writers are in short supply, while the pay scale is high. If you want to make it in this niche area, you must have the right attitude. What is it?Some key things we touch upon:What is the 30-minute limit test?What are the three strategies to learn API documentation?What are the four easy ways to start building an API portfolio?Also, if you are a hiring manager looking for API writers, this interview provides great tips on how you can find and fill this role with the right talent.Resources:The Programmable WebSearch for articles authored by Robert Delwood on medium.comFind projects on Upwork Guest BioRobert Delwood is a programmer, writer, and programming writer in Chicago’s legal community. He strives to produce innovative API documentation. He’s been an active writer for more than 20 years, 13 of those with API documentation. He’s also been a titled developer, once even writing NASA software that made sure the space station astronauts had clean underwear each day. If the astronauts themselves don’t appreciate it, the other crew members did.
S2E3 Interview for Success: A Hiring Manager Perspective with David Owens
Sep 23 2021
S2E3 Interview for Success: A Hiring Manager Perspective with David Owens
Staying with the theme of Job Search and Career Advancement, David Owens dives deep to give us a hiring manager's perspective on what he looks for in a tech comm candidate for his team. If you think tech comm is all about writing manuals in a silo, then this interview may just open your eyes. The field is fast evolving if you have not noticed, and managers are interviewing to fill non-traditional tech comm roles. Are you game? If not, this conversation promises to give you some great tips on how you can and must pivot if you want to interview for success in a content role.Some questions we touch upon:What are you looking for on your first scan of a resume as a hiring manager?What are hiring managers expecting to see in a candidate to fill a non-traditional tech comm role?Has the interview process changed given the pandemic and remote opportunities? Guest BioDavid Owens is Director of Strategic Content Development at Blackbaud. This multidisciplinary team creates a wide variety of content to support an array of products and services. David believes in building modern skillsets that both help team members achieve their career goals and ultimately benefit Blackbaud customers.As an information developer, David has created feature and API user assistance content in numerous formats for products ranging from an enterprise fundraising CRM application to shrink-wrapped, mass-market software and commercial hardware. David has written articles on topics such as single-sourcing and how to become a “technical” technical writer and is the co-author of “Madcap Flare for Programmers” published by XML Press.