Do you [really] understand your S1000D end user?

A deep passion of mine is how our content will be used by those that need it, how will they access, update, navigate and use the material we have painstakingly put together for them. I am deeply proud that I started the end user debate some years ago and now it is a hot topic within the S1000D community as a whole and frequently positioned as a new idea by many consultants and presenters at conferences and webinars.

Having come from an engineering & maintenance background, I have a unique perspective on the use of technical manuals, having been that engineer trying to decipher what the producer was trying to get me to do and often having to make my best guess, also having been that producer of technical content that I want engineers to follow.

One constant frustration I have around the use of S1000D is that we get so entrenched in the technicalities of S1000D, that we completely lose sight of where we are going and what we plan to deliver.

Let us not forget S1000D is a means to an end; it is the means of creating, configuring and integrating information to create the end, a technical manual.

A story…

I am lucky enough to have still engineering contacts that are at the sharp end of technical information use, and this is in defence and commercial aerospace sector. By the sharp end, I mean that they are using the end product, the technical manual, be it a printed book, PDF or an IETP of some kind.

One of the biggest frustrations that I hear when I talk to my old friends is that they genuinely dislike the modular deployment of S1000D content. It seems to me that many software vendors mix the modular creation requirements of S1000D with the real-life and practical user requirements of a useful technical manual. My sense on this is that many good technical brains can understand the technicalities of S1000D, but they lack the real user knowledge of technical publications and more importantly how users use them.

So my question this week is, do you understand how your end user wants to use the content we are creating? What are you doing to find out if what you delivered delivers?

Do you agree with me on this? Do you have a different story you want to share? Contact me!