Communicating Change

Sections of this topic

    How do you communicate change to others? It can be done verbally or through writing. For lead technical writers, immediate changes require the creation of new or updated requirements and meetings to present changes and new documents. Prior to the meetings, the lead technical writers have to question and determine where, when, and why changes occurred.

    Change involves a lot of research. For technical writers to communicate change, they will have to:

    • learn about any use case revisions and
    • gather any new information from developers, product managers, stakeholders, etc.

    Once all the facts are compiled, the next step is to:

    • find all the documents that will be affected and revise and disseminate them, as well as
    • communicate all changes verbally to others via training or open sessions.

    To make the job easier, technical writers should always keep abreast of new and upcoming changes and likewise, forewarn any affected users that processes may be changing. No one likes to hear about a change and then have to suddenly switch gears. What if you were working as a customer assistant responder and knew of one way to perform a task and then was immediately told that a feature was altered or deleted. How would you respond to users calling to complain? Letting others know ahead of time of forthcoming changes would prepare them to adapt more easily. If the customer assistant was notified of impending changes, then they too could have pre-warned others of upcoming changes. This would cause less of a shock and the customer assistant and users would have planned ahead for it.

    Depending on the environment, changes can occur quite often. Changes affect schedules and delivery times. But to ease the burden of communicating sudden changes, the following processes should exist:

    • Meetings should be continuously held to keep others up-to-date such as for the cases mentioned above. The technical writers should be aware of and attend all meetings and have a set of prepared questions to get their questions answered in order to get their job done.
    • Standards of good communication should exist. Managers need to make sure good communication takes place between all team members. Miscommunication leads to confusion, uncertainty, and unpredictable outcomes. (Note: with today’s social media applications and devices, miscommunication should not be an issue as statements or announcements can be quickly verified.)
    • Processes for change management should exist that describe what steps have to be taken, who should attend meetings, what has to be evaluated, when, etc. As part of that process, which users, departments, etc. to notify should also be included after the change has been approved and documented. Note: technical writers should investigate and make sure that they are on the list of any relevant meetings to ensure that they are not lost or forgotten within the change management process.

    How have you communicated changes within a development life cycle or within any organization? Please leave a comment. Thank you.