My most recent gig was an interesting contract with an excellent project manager. The Toronto Star’s
company, Torstar, merged with Metroland early this year and the two companies are aligning their resources.
Metroland owns the K-W Record, Guelph Mercury, and Hamilton Spectator along with a wealth of community newsletters, from London to Ottawa, put out by different publishing offices. Each of them uses a different mix of software. In fact, there are more than 200 applications. Some of them are small but others are used every day by many people to publish the paper and the Web site. Even when different offices use the same application, they use different parts of it and call it by different names.
Torstar and Metroland wanted to create a help desk for Level 1 user support and they hired a team of technical writers to create training materials and a resource for the help desk to use. There were six of us and we created a wiki, which the support team could edit themselves after our contract was finished. In parallel, a support team was getting a thorough grounding in company operations.
We devised an information structure and page layouts for the wiki, researched the most important applications, and seeded the wiki with the most common support issues and procedures–not only for publishing software but for HR forms such as expense requests. We also provided online resource such as log-in links for application servers for various regions, so the support team could quickly log in and fix things for their caller.
We trained the support team to update the wiki as they find new and improved solutions or how-to’s. Along the way we picked up the task of coordinating the day-to-day training for the intense classroom segment of the support team’s orientation. Meanwhile, our process guru found tools for creating & maintaining backups as the wiki content changes.
It was a challenge and a behind-the-scenes look at a new industry—which is what I like about my career.