Alain Schiffeleers

Alain studied Economics at Katholieke Universiteit Leuven and Management at the Free University in Brussels. A former college Accounting and Economics teacher, Alain joined Namahn in 1997. He specialises in technical communication, which is to say everything around the transfer of knowledge. Last year he took three months off to travel through western Africa.

Your specialty is technical communication but many people don’t understand the breadth and depth of that.

Most people think technical communication is just writing manuals or online help. But, in fact, it’s much more. It’s about designing and creating ways to transfer knowledge from experts to users. Of course, writing is the largest part of technical communication, but it amounts to only half of the work needed for creating high-quality documentation. While good writing is essential, it alone won’t guarantee high-quality documentation. The following ingredients are necessary:

  • Know your end-user! You have to be very familiar with your end-user. If you’re not, you run the risk of writing an excellent manual that no one wants to read. At Namahn, getting to know the end-user is a core part of our methodology.
  • Develop good information design. You can’t just start writing without a plan.
  • Get an excellent project manager. Because many people are involved in creating documentation, you need strong project management.

At Namahn, user analysis, information design and project management are all essential components of our methodology.

What direction do you see your work taking?

I see myself doing less technical writing, that is, writing documentation myself and more helping organisations to produce high-quality documentation, such as policies and procedures. As a technical writer you know how writers work in other organisations. We’re well suited to advise on the best tools and processes. My work is moving increasingly toward project management, which helps me understand processes better.

What are your favourite pastimes?

For the last two years, I’ve been going to the drawing academy. It helps me look at things in a new way without the usual contexts. I forget everything when I draw. I also love cooking, particularly vegetarian and African cuisine.