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Collaboration is Hot … Very Hot!! (How Collaboration at Cisco is Used Effectively with Engineering – A Case Study)

May 5, 2011 - 1 Comment

I find it gratifying that so many different organizations within Cisco have been able to leverage our collaboration solution – the Integrated Workforce Experience or IWE – to better enable them to improve speed, scale and reuse on a regular basis.  I’ve shared examples with you in my last two blogs about how our Sales and IT departments have used IWE successfully.  Today I’m providing a look into Cisco’s Engineering function and how it is using collaboration to great effect.

Cisco is a technology company, so it’s probably not surprising that our Engineering organization is our largest functional group with over 30,000 employees.  It spans six continents and five business groups. It is truly the most diverse organization within Cisco. Within Engineering is a group of nearly 500 technical writers, editors and illustrators working on teams across 62 business units.

Here is the business situation and challenge Engineering faced:  the technical writers, editors and illustrators were dependent upon tools and evolving best practices to keep documentation on Cisco products and solutions accurate and up-to-date.  It needed to share best practices to help increase efficiency and limit redundancy. 

Previous resources available to this community of communicators were spread among many websites and Web 2.0-era tools, including blogs, wikis, and discussion forums. Team members also received information via email aliases, and then had to maintain separate files of documents and presentations.

Since members of this team are professional communicators who are comfortable collaborating, it is understandable that their new Engineering Information Development Community was one of the first communities to launch on IWE.  In this new community, these technical communicators found an environment where information, dialogue and collaboration could be integrated and consolidated for faster communications and more efficient use of resources.

The IWE Information Development Community grew rapidly among technical documentation professionals.  Resource links were quickly added, and the community owners and 10 other active members began initiating discussions and posting information and links on technical writing projects best practices, and issues faced by technical communicators. The most popular feature in this community is its discussion forums, which provide members with real information that they need to do their jobs.

Through these activities, the IWE Information Development Community helps keep technical communicators in Engineering and across Cisco informed about evolving best practices, tools, publications, and opportunities in their field.  Community members gain a sense of camaraderie, get a chance to express their views, and share their expertise.

The community environment integrates document management, collaboration, and communications tools, making it easier for members to find specific content and colleagues with similar or complementary skills and experience.  The overall goal is to reduce redundancy, speed the flow of up-to-date information, and ultimately produce better technical documentation more efficiently.

I’ll blog more next time about how other Cisco functional groups are using IWE to make our operations more streamlined and efficient.  I’d love to hear your stories as well.

Happy Collaborating!

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  1. Impressive stuff. Thanks for sharing.

    Are there any numbers available to show what improvements are being measured?

    Also, does Cisco have downloadable (pdf) case studies on how IWE is helping tech writers and Engineering from some of your large customers?

    I’m sure your IWE prospects would be interested in reading those too.