From the Editor’s Desk


Nick Ducharme

Communicators of Orlando of Florida and beyond,

I am so pumped. My coworkers and I have been decorating our cubes like crazy for the upcoming holidays. Additionally, our chapter has been doing its own autumn cleaning to prepare for some huge changes.

Not sure what I mean, yet? Wishing I’d just dispense with the shameless teasers? Very wellcheck out this month’s President’s Corner article for all the details!

Also, this month’s meeting is a must-see. I consider our topic to be the most exciting yet, especially as an early-career technical communicator looking to expand my skillset. But even veteran tech comm folks will enjoy Emerging Trends in Tech Comm and How to Jumpstart Your Technical Skills, a presentation by UCF alumnus and cutting-edge technical writer John Paz.

Please join us this Thursday, October 20th, either online or at UCF’s University Boulevard IHOP. Click here to RSVP.

Thank you,

Nick Ducharme
Chair, Communications Committee







The President’s Corner

Alex Garcia

Alex Garcia

By: Alex Garcia
Orlando Central Florida Chapter, STC

Hello, and welcome to another edition of President’s Corner. Changes are happening within our chapter, and it is a very exciting time to be a member. As I alluded to last month, we have just finalized the merger between the Orlando Central Florida Chapter STC and the Suncoast Chapter STC. I know that the Suncoast chapter created a solid legacy during its existence, and we hope that the new chapter will continue to build on it. As of press time, our official name has not been approved by the STC International offices, but let me introduce, at least colloquially, The Florida Chapter STC. Headquartered and based in Orlando, the Florida Chapter STC will be made up of two regionally-geared Special Interest Groups: The Suncoast SIG (Tampa Bay-Sarasota-Charlotte) and the First Coast SIG (Jacksonville and Gainesville). Your Administrative Council will hold court in the Orlando area, and our physical chapter meetings will still emanate from this region. Since our chapter is transforming to an all-Florida-encompassing organization, a few “staffing announcements” are necessary:

  • I have appointed Debra Johnson, your Immediate Past President, as head of the A/V Committee. She is tasked with bringing our A/V equipment up to the state-of-the-art so that we can provide our virtual chapter members with the best online experience.
  • At the Administrative Council retreat, we created a Communications Committee. I see this as our top priority, and no better person to head this up than your Memo to Members editor Nick Ducharme. As you may have already seen, Nick and his committee instituted the use of Mail Chimp for all chapter communications. We hope to have one common voice, look, and feel to all chapter communications, and Mail Chimp is a great start. Kudos Nick and his committee!
  • As with any organizational change, documentation is key. I would like to thank your Director-at-Large Karen Lane for the amazing, and very thorough, job she did as head of the Bylaws As I write this, the new Bylaws are winding their way through the International STC approval process.

As you can see, your new STC Florida Chapter, as we would like to call it, is strong and healthy. That saying, don’t forget to renew your membership and Save $30! For a limited time, Classic members can save $30 on membership! Enter STC2017 in the “Membership Promo Code” field on the last page of the online application to apply your discount. And, don’t forget to add the Orlando Central Florida Chapter (our current name) as your home chapter.

Until next month.



If You Missed the Last Meeting

RD Sharninghouse

RD Sharninghouse

By: R.D. Sharninghouse
Orlando Central Florida Chapter, STC


On Thursday, September 22nd, 2016 at the IHOP near UCF, the STC Orlando Central Florida Chapter held  its monthly meeting.  The topic was Global Content Strategy: Delivery is Critical to Success” presented by Scott Abel the Content Wrangler, Tim Steele, and Joe Gelb.  This was a webinar originally broadcasted on September 21st, 2016.

The particular subjects discussed were the “importance of expectations, buying preferences, content consumption habits, culture, religion, and tradition when creating content” as pointed out in the description.  The information was well detailed.  Content is not only dependent on how it is structured, it is also dependent on its recipient.  The “Customer Experience” (dealing with content) has become more important than product enhancement and employee training. And the amount of sources customers have for seeking information has also expanded; websites, mobile apps, customer service, and social media all have an impact on how customers interact with content.

To join the The Content Wrangler’s mailing list, go to:

And check out their newest book, Language of Technical Communication:





Content and Customer Experience – Part 2


Debra Johnson

By: Debra Johnson

Immediate Past President 
Orlando Central Florida Chapter, STC

Manager, Technical Communication 
SunGard Public Sector


It is our job to help customers help themselves…

At SunGard Public Sector, the Technical Communication group is re-thinking the role, function, and position of product knowledge in our overall support ecosystem.

Ultimately, we want to get to a place where we:

  • Efficiently create and update content in alignment with why, how, when, and where customers access it
  • Enable customers to get “up-close and personal” with content, so they can easily share feedback and ask questions
  • Empower our Technical Communicators, Subject Matter Experts, and our other content providers to interact with each other and customers regarding product content and knowledge

As I expressed in Part 1 of this series, our plan is to shift away from “a world of documents” to “a world of answers.
It is our goal in TechComm to consistently deliver self-serve support that generates a memorable customer experience for all of the right reasons. We believe this philosophy will help enable customer engagement…and that can make a world of difference for all of us!

Since arriving SunGard Public Sector in Oct 2015, it has been my mission to improve and standardize our content and its workflow…and my team has been working hard doing just that… standardizing and focusing on increasing our productivity.

Most of our time is spent on trying to make a dent in the backlog of documentation, improving quality, our content infrastructure and processes, and implementing standardization across product lines.  All of these things are great, and definitely help to reduce cost and optimize operations. However, at the end of the day, the value is mostly productivity value. Our customers are not aware and don’t always reap the benefits of these efforts.

For years now, in the content industry, Technical Communicators have talked about authoring tools, versioning, and content management systems. They talk about how to localize content and impose internal workflows for reviews and validation checks.  These are the investments we have been focusing on at my company…and they do need to occur.  They are good investments, but they reside on the left side of the wall.


We want to break through this wall

My team’s goal going forward is to leverage all of these investments by bringing the benefits to customers; focusing on the customer value. We want our attention to be on the right part… the customer-facing part.

The way we see it, giving our customers better customer experience involves two main elements:

  1. Our ultimate task is to help customers get their tasks done as quickly as possible. They don’t want to be forced to spend a long time looking for answers. The quicker they get an answer, the happier they are.
  2. After our customers find their answer, we want to give them incentive to stay longer, to explore our content assets, to educate themselves, and to develop a positive relationship with our company.


Think about it…

This is a challenging concept and unless carefully planned and strategized, can be contradicting.

On one hand — we want customers to find things and be able to leave as soon as possible…to use our products to their full potential …to become productive.
On the other hand — we want them to spend more time, learning, educating themselves, and possibly exploring other products that could benefit them.

We don’t want them to HAVE to spend this time with a sense of frustration, but instead, do it after they already have what they need and are now browsing with a feeling of exploration.

We want to Provide Answers and Engage with Dynamic Content Delivery


To answer and engage our customers, we need a certain set of functionalities.

At a high-level, we want or need to:

  • Deliver a best-in-class search for information
  • Personalize the content they receive through roles, so that they’ll find the answers they want faster, but also feel that we know and care for them… so they feel special
  • Allow our end-users to collaborate with other end-users or with experts from our company
  • Implement “gamification” techniques, that will encourage our users to contribute more and be more involved, helping foster a content-centric community
  • Make sure people come back… we want to keep them looking for the latest content updates we put into the system
  • Keep pushing relevant content recommendations, whether its additional educational content, training, or promotional materials, all of which are in line with our customer interests

It takes all of us…

It takes Senior Leadership to understand, adopt, and support this philosophy.

It takes some new tools, additional resources, and removal of barriers.

It takes embracing a company-wide Customer Experience and Content Strategy that includes all content-producing areas as equal and important.

Technical Communication’s role

In TechComm, we provide value in what we produce and in what we can provide our customers.
We are:

  • Improving our customers’ experience by helping users become more successful on their own
  • Reducing the frustration and risks associated with improper use of our products
  • Providing accurate information about our products, which helps technical experts communicate effectively with other technical experts
  • Supporting our training programs with a basis of accurate information from which to train
  • Capturing and curating knowledge to keep it from walking out the door
  • Using innovation in media to clarify steps or identify the parts of a product, letting users focus on getting their task done quickly or more accurately
  • Performing usability studies to uncover problems with content, functionality, and experience

We want to know what you think.  Send us your thoughts and ideas as a content producer for your area to  Subject: Content and Customer Experience

Ok… So we have a philosophy… What’s next…???

In Part 3 of our Content and Customer Experience series, we’ll talk about how we would like it to work… maybe explain our vision in Technical Communication to improve the customer experience by delivering product content anytime and anywhere, across all customer touchpoints.  In essence, we want to maximize our business value – to help reduce support costs and to enhance the customer experience by making our customers happier and more loyal.

See you next month for Part 3… Easier to Find…Easier to Solve…Better experience