The Write Way

Can't Bring the Team to Class? Bring the Class to the Team!

VideoconferenceAlternative Energy Systems Consulting, Inc. (AESC), an energy engineering and management consulting firm, must communicate their results, designs, and recommendations in clear documents. The company’s customers include utilities, government agencies, large energy users, and other organizations that deploy demand-side management and renewable energy technologies.  AESC’s analysis, results, and recommendations can be determining factors to investing millions of dollars. Furthermore, some of AESC’s documents may be subject to regulatory auditing depending on the customer and project.

The challenge of meeting these technical writing demands is compounded by the diversity of AESC’s audience. Many documents must include complete data for a technical audience and be understandable for nontechnical readers such as those in management or accounting.

In many instances the company’s engineers are responsible for writing customer facing reports. Although their technical expertise is without question, some lack the tools to develop concise, clear, and easily understood documents for a broad audience. Engineering managers are responsible for quality control of outgoing documents. Under this system, editing and fact checking are time-consuming, and the results not always optimal.

AESC’s management decided it was time for more formal training to improve and sharpen the company’s technical writing skills.

Custom-made for success

Mike Casey, an engineering manager for AESC, conducted online research for technical and business writing courses.

"I considered content descriptions and reviews," he says, "and spoke to Hurley Write before making a decision."

AESC has four offices throughout California, so gathering the entire company in one space was impossible. Repeating a course separately at each site would be expensive and impractical. Because of these constraints, Casey inquired about using a Hurley Write online live webinar.

"The live webinar seemed a lot more personal and feedback-friendly than the prerecorded modules, and Hurley Write agreed to custom-tailor the modules to examples that I provided," says Casey.

Hurley Write examined the work samples Casey provided and then developed a custom webinar with six modules. Each module used Microsoft PowerPoint slides and AESC examples to cover a specific aspect of writing. AESC staff members were able to ask questions and participate in discussions. Hurley Write also reviewed participants' writing both before and after the webinar series, to assess improvement and provide specific feedback.

"Hurley Write developed a writing test for us to distribute to all of the students before the first module and again at the end of the course, then graded each response in terms of five different aspects of writing so that we could have an indication of each student's progress," Casey explains.

An eye-opening experience

Casey is no stranger to good writing. Still, the webinar was an eye-opener.

"I learned that there are a lot of aspects of good writing and editing that I already knew or should have known but had fallen out of practice in using," he says. "It's a good idea always to keep these basic fundamentals in mind when writing."

Now, he's applying the skills that he learned in the class not only to his own writing, but also to his quality-control and editing work on the writing of the engineers he manages.

Although it's been only a few weeks since the course concluded, Casey expects to see positive results from those engineers, and he's already noticed a change for the better in his own work.

"My writing has become clearer and more polished," Casey says, "and I think it will continue to improve as I use the things that I have learned in the webinar. I have also noticed significant improvement in our other engineers' writing."

Are you tasked with writing scientific or technical content that non-technical readers can understand? Hurley Write can show you how. Email or call us toll-free at 877-24-WRITE (877-249-7483).

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