From DevOps to DocOps

From DevOps to DocOps

IT Information Management 4.0 

How high is the friction loss in information transfer?  

Teams have their own data silos; information exchange between teams is arbitrary. 

In the following, we will look at the term DocOps and offer suggestions for professional IT information management. 

The way organisations work has been turned on its head in our modern time. With the integration of development and operations (DevOps), an understanding has emerged in IT, just how important it is to establish teams that bring together viewpoints and knowledge from various areas. 

DocOps builds on that experience to look at the components of information management. DocOps itself is the buzzword for a changing mindset. DevOps teams are expanded by adding information management. This new skill is to counteract the fact that DevOps teams generally do not document their work consistently and only create ‘single purpose documents’. These document requirements are delegated in the teams arbitrarily, without any concept for relevant qualifications and objectives for the completion of that task. DocOps makes these efforts transparent, plannable and manageable by experts. Simply said, DocOps is the logical continuation of DevOps. 

The DocOps approach was developed by Technical Editing to allow their know-how to flow into the modern (agile) methodology. The know-how and tools of technical editing fill this gap in the DevOps environment: How can information be made available to all continuously, efficiently, simply and professionally?  

And how can the efforts of document creation be effectively reduced within the team? 

 

Overview 

Let’s first have a look at the definition of ‘DocOps’ and some of its key principles before we look at the details and differences of traditional and continuous documentation. 

Definition 

Mary Connor offered a very good definition for DocOps in her interviews, presentations and on her website (see “Links”). 

DocOps is all about establishing continuous documentation to make DevOps (continuous delivery) successful. This will require the integration of departments and users of interdisciplinary teams into the document creation process. Ideally, a new role ‘Information Manager’ should: 

  • Be in charge of all document requirements
  • Control the creation and maintenance of information 
  • Make information available via a standardised portal. 

 

Key Principles 

  • Collaborative information management
    All information is created in a collaborative effort. Information and product are one unit and will not be viewed as separate entities. Information is created step by step and is made available directly.
  • Collaborative information management
    All information is created in a collaborative effort. Information and product are one unit and will not be viewed as separate entities. Information is created step by step and is made available directly.
  • Aggregation
    Information is stored centrally. Information access is governed via rights and roles. Anyone in the organisation will have at least read access. 
  • User integration
    Users can influence the content directly or indirectly, which means that information is continuously updated and improved.

The Road from Traditional Documentation to DocOps Information Management 

In the following, we will describe the difference between traditional and DocOps methodology using 2 illustrations. 

Example from Technical Documentation 

1. Traditional methodology 


Technical writers work for Technical Editing, which is tasked with making the content of various information providers available to many stakeholders (information users). The storage, creation and distribution of this information is not managed centrally and is handled differently from one team to the next. Teams have their own data silos (e.g. SharePoint, network drives or digital notice boards). The only place, where all information comes together is the editorial office, where documents (e.g. manuals) are created. The dissemination of information is extremely complex and there is no safeguard in place to ensure that only the most current information is used or that all teams have access to the same level of knowledge, as they do not have access to the central content management and must rely on information provided by the editorial office. The creation and dissemination of these documents is very time-consuming for most editorial offices. From experience, we estimate that these efforts (depending on system) may require up to 10% of overall work time. 

 

2. Would DocOps make a difference here? 

DocOps creates clear rules for information management. A standardised platform exists, where all information about the (software) product is stored. Creation paths are unified with roles and access rights. Information dissemination is automated via meta data and there is no need to produce and disseminate documents. Stakeholders can source information autonomously via the portal and export whatever data they need (e.g. in PDF format). 

 

In this environment, technical writers become information managers (IM). The IM is responsible for making the information of the teams available centrally and structured. An IM is furthermore responsible for the language quality, translation and maintenance of the information (information governance). The IM makes available all required information systems for stakeholders (e.g. customers, suppliers). In state-of-the-art cloud-based applications, this is done via automated deployment using meta data and is therefore very simple. 

 

Developers should document?

One of the greatest points of resistance is the idea that non-editors will suddenly have additional document creation duties. Our projects have shown that the opposite is the case. Specialists don’t have to do anything they aren’t already doing. The only thing changing is the environment and the tool used. At the end of the day, specialists like developers will have significantly less documentation work and DocOps will allow them to do their job more efficiently. 

 

Links: 

The following pages offer a good overview of the topic: 

“DocOps – Documentation at the speed of agile”–  by Mary Connor

Right concepts, wrong tools – Wiki-based DocOps

5 Examples for good information systems / technical documentation

 

Bottom Line 

DocOps contributes to making the flow of information more professional. It allows everyone involved to concentrate on their core tasks. 

The introduction of new qualifications on the topic of information management in DevOps visualises requirements and complexities, which makes them controllable. This transparency and the professionalisation made possible by current and reliable information via a centrally controlled portal allows all users to become more efficient in their work. DocOps is therefore a key factor in the DevOps environment, which significantly contributes to better solutions.  

 

We are looking forward to receiving your comments and suggestions and will be happy to answer any questions. If you want to know more about how to implement DocOps with the avato solution iPortal, please contact:  av-itim@avato.net.

Do you have questions? Send us an email: marketing@avato.net

Imprint: 
Date: October 2019
Author: Martin Lieneke
Contact: av-itim@avato.net
www.avato-consulting.com
© 2019 avato consulting ag
All Rights Reserved.

Does Gamification Motivate your Team Members? No, but…

Does Gamification Motivate your Team Members? No, but…

…that is due to the way gamification is implemented and understood today. Let’s have a look at why it does not work in most cases – and how to fix that!

 

First misconception: What does Gamification mean?

Gamifying something is usually understood as adding elements known from games to a system in order to make its use more fun. And this may already be the root cause why gamification usually does not meet the expectations. If a task is boring or the tools for execution are annoying, adding a score or achievements won’t make it fun. There might be a small group of users who are more willing to invest time and effort in tedious work to get a high score, but that’s probably not what you aimed for when implementing gamification. You wanted your team members to be more engaged with their tasks. Instead they are only searching for the fastest way to collect points. There is even a chance that this decreases their performance.

Gamification that works must be built into the system, not on top of it. That is pretty obvious if you think about games: If playing it is not fun, winning does not change that; and your favorite game is enjoyable even if you lose. Executing the task has to be rewarding in itself. Take these two hints on how to achieve that:

  1. Doing something is self-rewarding every time we are proud of what we have done. Let your team know how the task they are performing fits into the big picture and why it is necessary. This can turn even small, repetitive tasks into something we are willing to invest our energy in.
  2. Think about what your team wants to achieve and turn the task in question into a step on getting there. For example, if your employees are interested in being known as experts for a given subject, executing the task can be a way of proving their knowledge and skill. (For less complicated tasks this can be soft skills like being able to stay concentrated when executing repetitive work.)

 

Second misconception: Competition and Motivation

Competition can motivate us. Evolution has built the desire to be the best (or at least better) into our brains. But it is not the only motivator embedded in our psyche and it is not the best one, especially when working in teams. Why? Because competition can get toxic. Bullying of users with low scores is an extreme example. What is seen more often is resignation. Realizing that you have no chance to become better (e.g. reach a higher rank) is one of the most demotivating experiences one can have. And of course, competition can reduce the willingness to cooperate and share knowledge and skills.

The good news: Fixing this is easier than it looks. There are multiple ways to reduce the toxicity. Have a second thought on whom the users are competing with. Awarding teams instead of individuals to some degree prevents most of the detrimental effects. Or let everyone compete with their former self and give special rewards to the ones winning with the greatest lead. Wording and presentation are also powerful tools. Just replace “best” by “most active” on your leaderboards, disable viewing the complete board and don’t show the precise scores. This still is a reward to the leaders without punishing others.

An even better way: Use other motivators. In most cases, the true need behind the wish to be the best is the desire to be recognized. A system notifying coworkers and supervisors about extraordinary performances and reached milestones, allowing them to express immediately that they value the effort and commitment, will support you more in motivating your team than any leaderboard could. And yes, that is still gamification. Achievements do just that: They recognize and reward outstanding performance automatically. Just keep in mind that recognition by a machine is not as powerful in motivating us as recognition by our social environment.

 

Third misconception: Gamification and Usability

What is often forgotten when talking about gamification is the role of usability and aesthetics. As humans we enjoy looking at nice things, especially if they are moving, and we do like using tools to achieve more while investing less. The effort in adding popular gamification features to a bad tool might be higher and less effective than improving the tool. A more intuitive menu and a little popup or animation may seem less important, but they do have the potential to heavily increase our willingness to use the tool and can even make us smile. There is a reason why aesthetics is a major point in every concept for new games. They help keep us concentrated, immersed and interested. So if you don’t want to invest time in a complex gamification system, consider investing some of it in the look and feel instead. Make using the tool a child’s play and the users will find out how to have fun with it by themselves.

 

Summary

So, can gamification motivate teams? Yes, but only if done right. Consider what your team members want and then use gamification to highlight how the tasks and tools support them in getting it. Don’t expect it to solve all your problems. Gamification makes hard work lighter, it can activate potentials and thus improve efficiency. Not more and not less.

Do you have questions? Send us an email: marketing@avato.net

Imprint: 
Date: September 2019
Author: Isabell Bachmann
Contact: marketing@avato.net
www.avato-consulting.com
© 2019 avato consulting ag
All Rights Reserved.

The Path From Technical Writer to Information Manager

The Path From Technical Writer to Information Manager

This article aims to draw attention to the increasing importance of Technical Writers / Information Managers (m/f/d) and highlight the features of these job descriptions. As well as this, it offers an overview of possible developments and recommended qualifications. To improve readability, the following does not include the supplement “m/f/d”. Use the LinkedIn comments to let the community know which certifications you think are important for an Information Manager.

 

The Technical Writer. The professional title “Technical Writer” was coined by Tekom (Gesellschaft für Technische Kommunikation) in collaboration with the Federal Labour Office. A Technical Writer is responsible for the conceptualisation, creation and updating of technical documentation such as user guides, operating manuals, installation and assembly instructions, as well as training material. Technical Writers are increasingly working in-house and write, for example, system and application documentation as well as requirement specifications. They also manage terminology and user interfaces alongside the development process.

Did you know? There were around 85,000 full-time Technical Writers in Germany in 2016. A large portion of the documentation is, however, authored by individuals, who actually have a different role, which means that the actual profession “Technical Writer” is largely unknown. (Wikipedia)

Reading suggestion: Why Your Role of Technical Writer is Becoming Increasingly Important

The Information Manager role is less clearly defined. Information management in general means the management of information, however the term has various definitions in technical literature. The reason for this is the dynamic environment of IT development as well as the various academic disciplines (in particular information systems that is involved with information and communication management). […] In general “strategic information management” is described by various authors as the planning, conceptualisation, monitoring and managing of information and communication within organisations with the aim of achieving strategic goals. (Wikipedia)

Information Manager – a profession? Information Manager as a role does not have a job description and is not listed as a skilled occupation in the German setting (see Planit, berufe.eu; despite this, however, “information Manager” is included in the occupations list of the employment agency as a “field of study” and “occupation after studies”).

A comparison between the activities of a Technical Writer and those of an Information Manager finds similarities. Both deal with documentation/information. However the Information Manager flies higher. Unlike a Technical Writer, they aren’t involved full-time in the actual creation of documentation but instead are also responsible for the process of information management and the quality of the process as well as that of the documentation. The tasks and responsibility of a Technical Writer are therefore a good basis for professional development into an Information manager. The experience gathered helps master growing challenges and expanded responsibilities.

 

Additional tasks for an Information Manager include:

  • Management of the documentation process
  • Recording of information needs
  • Communication with stakeholders (regular meetings with Responsibles & Accountables)
  • Drafting of programmes/projects
  • Management of technical implementation
  • Management of the (teams of) Responsibles
  • Adaptation of available modules, templates and models as required
  • Management and support of information creation, review and updating
  • Making reviewed information available and accessible for authorised persons
  • Reporting about the status, progress and obstacles / risks
  • Holding training/education sessions
  • Interest in and promotion of continuous improvement

 

An Information Manager should have the following knowledge and skills:

  • Understanding of the overall objective and the defined scope
  • Ability to work across departments and understand connections
  • Adequate experience
  • Knowledge of the necessary methods and practices as well as how to apply them
  • Handling of information management technologies and knowledge of their advantages/disadvantages
  • Basic user knowledge of content management systems (e.g. SharePoint, Alfresco)
  • Basic user knowledge of content delivery systems (e.g. WordPress, Typo 3, Confluence)
  • Ideally some industry expertise

 

Which qualifications can aid success in the additional areas of responsibility?

  • Studies, for example in information management / multimedia communication and documentation / digital humanities
  • and/or several years of professional experience as a Technical Writer
  • Certified Information Professional – CIP** (aiim)
  • (agile) project management
  • Technical Writer (Tekom)
  • ITIL Foundation (especially in IT)

 

CIP – what is this? Certified Information Professional is a certification offered by the American organisation aiim (Association for Information and Image Management). Details can be found in the following article: Why Should Technical Writers get CIP Certification?

 

Summary

The need for Technical Writers will increase (Why Your Role of Technical Writer is Becoming Increasingly Important). At the same time, the demands on Technical Writers are becoming ever more complex. Experienced Technical Writers that take on additional responsibilities are referred to as Information Managers. Anyone who is interested in an advancement to Information Manager can gain an overview of the tasks and skills of an Information Manager and obtain the available certifications.

Which certifications do you think are relevant for an Information Manager?
Which knowledge/certification do you see as must-have, and which as nice-to-have?
Write a LinkedIn comment!

The Path From Technical Writer to Information Manager (PDF)
Possible developments and recommended qualifications.

Do you have any question? Simply email to: marketing@avato.net

Imprint: 
Date: September 2019
Author: Jennifer Gitt
Contact: marketing@avato.net
www.avato-consulting.com
© 2019 avato consulting ag
All Rights Reserved.

Why Should Technical Writers get CIP Certification?

Why Should Technical Writers get CIP Certification?

Germany offers many avenues for additional training in the area of Information Management. The market for training and further education in the area of Information Management is developing at a rapid speed in Germany. 15 German universities currently offer Information Management in 24 different study courses (Studis.online). But what is on offer in the further education market? As a pioneer on the topic of technical documentation, (Tekom) offers an answer complete with relevant certifications.

On the international stage, the American organisation AIIM (Association for Information and Image Management) may be a more familiar name. Their certification, which reflects years of practical experience and know-how, is called CIP – Certified Information Professional.

 Did You Know?

The professional title “Technical Writer” was coined by Tekom (Gesellschaft für Technische Kommunikation) in collaboration with the Federal Labour Office.

There were around 85,000 full-time technical writers in Germany in 2016. A large portion of the documentation is, however, authored by individuals, who actually have a different role, which means that the actual profession ‘Technical Writer’ is largely unknown. (Wikipedia)

 

Why Should You Get Certification?

According to PayScale.com, organizations are willing to pay 27% more for a certified professional than an uncertified comparable specialist. But the majority of CIPs report that the true value is what it does for your reputation.

Hemaben Patel, ECM Lead for a large international airline, explains, “Having the CIP gives my internal customers and partners a certain level of confidence that whatever strategy or solution I propose is based on best practices and experience.” (AIIM)

The CIP course and the CIP study guide offer a wealth of valuable learning content. Read more on the subject below. The CIP certificate is proof of what the CIP certification has made you: An expert for intelligent information management – or in other words: an Information Manager.

The certification for Certified Information Manager could be our first step towards becoming an information manager if you have previously been employed as a technical writer. The responsibilities of an information manager are much broader in scope. The CIP certificate will help you find the right role on an international stage.

 

For Whom Will CIP be Interesting?

CIP is an interesting proposition for

  • Information Management Consultants
  • Technical Writers
  • Project leads, project managers and team members in IM projects
  • Anyone working in the areas of Records Managements, Document Management, Electronic Archiving and Enterprise Content Management
  • IT Management professionals and technical IT staff

Intelligent IM can also be an exciting topic for groups in the following areas:

  • Risk Management
  • Business Analysis
  • Process Design
  • IT Coordination
  • Change Management
Test yourself!

Are you ready for your certification?

There are three freely accessible tests that you can use to assess your knowledge: Sample Test 

 

Even More Practically Oriented Since May 2019

The CIP certification has been around for a few years now, but some content changes were made in May 2019. It now includes numerous practical scenarios. It also now recognises the fact that organisations no longer need ECMs (“ECM is now dead”, Gartner. aiim). More to the point: We now understand the fact that the challenge is only to some extent a technical one. However, the authors left one chapter on technology untouched. Technology is, after all, an important tool and very much needed when facing the challenges of creating intelligent information:

  • Modernizing the information toolkit
  • Digitalizing core organizational processes
  • Automating compliance & governance
  • Leveraging analytics & machine learning

This realisation is also reflected in the new structure of the various learning topics, which focus on the following content:

  1.   Creating and Capturing Information
  2.   Extracting Intelligence from Information 
  3.   Digitalizing Core Business Processes
  4.   Automating Governance and Compliance
  5.   Implementing an Information Management Solution
Are you already a CIP?

What has changed in comparison with the previous version?The first and last chapters are similar in terms of content. Some topics were summarised in the middle part and new focal points were set. These were the former contents:

  1. Creating and Capturing Information
  2. Organizing and Categorizing Information
  3. Governing Information
  4. Automating Information-Intensive Processes
  5. Managing the Information Lifecycle
  6. Implementing an Information Management Solution

 

Cost & Scope

The certification consists of 100 multiple choice questions. The various topic areas are weighted differently. The weightings can be found in the study guide. A 60% score is a pass.

Non-AIIM members will have to shell out USD 1785 – but in my experience, the certification is not required for technical writers. In most cases, practical work experience and in-depth familiarisation with the study guide should guarantee a pass.

The CIP Study Guide is available free of charge for professional members. Everyone else will have to pay affordable USD 60.

The test fee is around USD 385 (members pay USD 349).

(The membership fee is USD 169 per year. I personally opted in favour of a membership before I did my certification. It gave me access to the community and it got me an overall discount of USD 100 for the study guide and test.)

 

Summary

Certifications are always career boosters. Specifically in terms of international job opportunities, the CIP certification is a great place to start if you want to step up the ladder from Technical Writer to Information Manager. The certification is based on many years of valuable practical experience and was completely revised in May 2019 to reflect latest developments. The time needed, as well as the financial cost can be minimised with practical experience and autonomous preparation.

Why Should Technical Writers get CIP Certification? (PDF)

Send an email for questions and feedback: marketing@avato.net

Imprint: 
Date: August 2019
Author: Jennifer Gitt
Contact: marketing@avato.net
www.avato-consulting.com
© 2019 avato consulting ag
All Rights Reserved.

IT Integration or Separation: Information is the Key to Success

IT Integration or Separation: Information is the Key to Success

Post-merger IT integration and IT separations have become commonplace in the IT operations of most companies. Many of these incidences take a long time to do or are never truly completed – with often reiterated consequences. How can you make improvements in this area, how can you minimize risk and prevent pesky long-term consequences?

A reliable basis of information is the key to becoming faster and more efficient. How high is the cost for the integration of two badly documented IT organizations? How quickly can you carry out a spin-off in your IT? Do you have a good basis of information, with which you can support a spin-off?

Integration or Separation: It’s all a Matter of Perspective

Most IT separations are followed up by an IT integration, many IT integrations are preceded by an IT separation. The issues of both perspectives are the same. Much of it is a question of documentation and organization. Everything gets a lot easier if you know what you’ve got and what you really need.

It is, however, not an easy challenge: Shared data centres must be separated, while separate data centres should be joined. Shared applications must be broken down, while complying with data protection requirements and various applications should be merged with own data bases, etc.

“We’ll Just Follow the Blueprints!”

One might think that IT integrations or separations are done so frequently in some companies that there should be actual procedural blueprints, skilled experts and that one’s own IT department should be well prepared in terms of documentation. All the information needed for integration or separation is on hand and of high quality after a number of iterations and projects are pulled through professionally…

That is – unfortunately – not the case. Hardly any IT organisation exists that has the wherewithal to carry out a truly structured integration or separation. No preparation is done for the integration of one’s own IT and nobody can actually separate parts and hand them over in a structured manner. What can be done?

 

Divide and Rule: Documentation in 7 Workstreams for Success

Separate the task into manageable subtasks early – i.e. right from the start. A good approach – and not just for separation or integration – is a separation into individual workstreams, which align with contiguous areas.

#1 IT Infrastructure Services

That includes shared services, as well as IT assets from the areas of network, data centres and computing (CPU, storage, backup, etc.). These areas are well documented in most companies. In separations, documentation in the area of security is key.

#2 Applications & Data

Shared applications generally pose a special challenge. Application integration, as well as the interface points between applications are often neglected at the start. Shared data is generally a huge issue and more often than not poses a source of risk. It is never too early to develop and document data extraction and transformation concepts!

#3 Identity & Access Management (IAM)

While the separation of an active directory or an LDAP directory might still seem a relatively manageable challenge, the integration of two separate directory services may have already become an insurmountable stumbling block. And we’re not even touching on user management on application level or a company-wide SSO (Single Sign-On).

#4 Services for the End User

End user services often are a test of patience and dedication. Separation may be time-critical here, while integration is all about minimising costs.

#5 ITSM, Supplier Management & IT Governance

The importance of IT service management, supplier management and IT governance is often underestimated. While questions about the IT organisation are generally handled well and information is easily accessible, important data about suppliers and ITSM processes are much harder to come by. In case of separations that may pose a number of risks. Costs for integration increase.

#6 License Management

Once the separation process begins, you must know which licenses are available and which are still needed. Which licenses will you be able to continue using after a separation? What other licenses will be needed?

#7 IT Information Management

IT information management is the glue that holds it all together and the basis for all decisions. The earlier you begin collecting IT information, the more comprehensive and reliable that information basis becomes, the more effective and efficient your IT integration or separation will be.

 

Project Phases, Start of the IT Project & Information Management

You are one of those who don’t have comprehensive background knowledge or already do IT information management? You can’t afford to procrastinate – start on the very first day and take advantage of the pre-signing phase! 

Implement the necessary workstreams as early as possible, assign key roles to your best personnel and build up knowledge about your IT. Formulate goals: Start your IT information management and develop a high-level solution design.

The IT project phases can in part be run in parallel. The ‘as is’ analysis, for example, can start immediately and continue right into the transition phase. The rule of thumb in IT is: Better is the enemy of good.

 

Reliable Information Minimises Risks in Separations

Separation has its very own can of worms. At the very latest after a signing, buyers and sellers have very different points of view and follow their own objectives. The seller will start thinking about compliance and regulations regarding buyer access to systems and data very quickly. The buyer is suddenly confronted by risks regarding service accessibility based on insufficient information and a lack of qualifications. A good information basis is the only thing that can help here. The earlier qualified and reliable information can be on hand, the faster and better good decisions can be made.

 

Integration Shortfalls

While the main concern in separations is risks, it is mainly shortfalls that cause after-the-fact problems in integration. Incomplete IT integrations create a whole zoo of applications and systems. Anything that wasn’t structured before it was merged will cause long-term problems.

“Temporary solutions” are often the go-to procedure if there is not enough time or resources for a comprehensive integration. You should document these meticulously. Nothing is more permanent than a temporary solution. And afterwards, nobody can recreate the complexities. That doesn’t just mean more costs. Important adjustments to business areas and processes can only be done to a limited extent – they will be virtually paralysed.

 

Information is Everything

IT separations and integrations basically have one thing in common: The scope and quality of the information basis decide over success or failure. The premise is the same as in other areas like IT operations, cloud migration or an IT audit: The chances for success increase exponentially, the better you know your own IT and the more information is at hand. Knowledge – in this case about the IT – is a key prerequisite for effectiveness and efficiency.

Be proactive and start preparing early. A subdivision into so-called workstreams will be invaluable on your way to success.

 

IT Integration and Separation (PDF)
… and how documentation prevents pain.

Please send us an e-mail for questions or feedback: marketing@avato.net

Imprint
Date: July 2019
Author: Gregor Bister
Contact: marketing@avato.net
www.avato-consulting.com
© avato consulting ag – Copyright 2019.
All Rights Reserved.