The stakes of collaborative writing

Simon Saint-Georges, Chloé Jaouen

July 2013

Abstract

The arrival of Web 2.0 has changed the ways of working, especially for writers. A wide range of tools now exists, enabling different people to participate in the writing of one single document and introducing new methods of work within teams. These new work methods rely on tools that are constantly evolving. While some companies remain skeptical, others are already embracing these new practices.
Either way, our position of apprentice makes us ideal observers concerning the choices made by our companies and the difficulties that the adoption of these new work methods raises. Such a change can be a real challenge, and selecting the right options to fit one particular situation can be a difficult task.
We will first present the results of our research on the current state of the art in collaborative writing and how and why companies tend to use more and more collaborative writing methods.
We will then explain the situation in the two companies that we work for, Atlas Copco (industrial tooling and equipment) and CNES (Centre National d’Etudes Spatiales, the French space agency), two companies which are heading in opposite directions in terms of collaborative writing. We will observe the practices, tools, processes and work dynamics involved in writing for both companies.
Finally, based on what we found and observed in the first two parts, we will compare theory and reality concerning collaborative writing in companies.

Read the full article (PDF): The stakes of collaborative writing

Following the Sun: Facing the challenges of distance collaboration

Christopher Dolloff, Anouck Le Lijour

September 2013

Abstract

In the recent years, globalization and virtualization have led companies to embrace multiculturalism and long-distance collaboration. Whether it is for greater customer proximity, reliable business continuity, or purely economic reasons, more and more firms now hire staff abroad, and thus face new challenges induced by the collaboration of dispersed teams.

This study focuses on long-distance collaboration in the field of technical writing, and aims at determining which methods are the most effective to work at a distance. To begin with, it explores the factors behind the evolution of working conditions for technical writers, leading to the development of distance teamwork in the profession. Through case studies, it then analyzes and criticizes the various processes, methodologies, communication techniques and tools implemented by four companies to support long-distance collaboration between technical writers and their peers, or technical writers and developers.

The main purpose of this article is to identify best practices that help build  community and therefore increase productivity, and to suggest methods for  improving distance collaboration.

Read the full article (PDF): Following the Sun: Facing the challenges of distance collaboration