Communication in BOLDFlash has drastically decreased overtime thus, it needs serious improvement. The product development process has been dysfunctional because of the communication failure between the different departments. Roger Cahil identified this problem when he resumed as the vice president. Roger’s business process ideas are not functioning properly in BOLDFlash especially the technical communication. He concentrated mainly on internal business processes, technical service communication, and product installation documentation. The existing documents will be reviewed in each area.
Background and Area of Focus
While most companies work hard to protect their public image, internal communications within companies don’t get much attention. BOLDFlash was founded by two professors in 1982 in Waltham Massachusetts. It was formerly called BoldDisk. BOLDFlash developed computer storage media (floppy disks) initially and later started producing flash memory for electronic devices as the company focused more on storage devices as technology evolved. BOLDFlash is currently producing Solid State Drive (SSD)which is used to maintain data storage without moving parts in digital cameras, mobile phones and so on. BOLDFlash has been falling behind when it comes to marketplace competition. It was experiencing pressure on both prices and the ability to make new products to market quickly.
This is as a result of the communication gaps between the manufacturing, product development, and sales and marketing department. BOLDFlash moved most of its manufacturing outside the U.S. because margins were constantly squeezed. The company operated its own plants and did not sub-contract or have any joint venture agreement with competitors. Roger Cahil identified the technical communication issues BOLDFlash faces when he assumed the vice president position. The manager of technical support, Jack Thompson indicated his concerns about the Research & Development (R&D) document quality, which is neither clear nor concise. BOLDFlash has to work towards fixing its Internal Business Processes (IBP) which will help them strategize very well when dealing with their competitors because these processes will dictate how departments work with one another. The problem BOLDFlash us facing can be simply identified as ineffective communication in the system. Another identifiable problem is the product installation documentation issue because the instructions are not clear for the customers to install it on their computers or troubleshoot.
Key Stakeholders and Established Practices
The key stakeholders who will be involved in developing and maintaining the IBP are the management (Director of Product Development, Director of Marketing, Director of Manufacturing, and Director of Sales) because they have direct responsibilities to implement possible changes when needed or as needed. They also have the opportunity to gain knowledge of what is happening outside their jurisdictions which should help when building a good team. Other stakeholders who may take part in this whole issue are the technical support staff, marketing staff, and the customers. The customers may be needing the help of the technical support staff when there’s an issue during the installation process.
The leaders in BOLDFlash should be able to effectively communicate with the management, the stakeholders, employees, and the customers. This can be achieved by having a good relatable attitude with everyone, being available when needed, offer a listening ear for possible needs, suggestions or complaints, being prompt, and emphasize on the key points. Another common practice will be identifying information and their importance to the product installation.
Framework for Communication
The communication environment that exists within BOLDFlash is one of unproductive conflict between the main departments just as Roger Cahill noticed (Beer & Shelton, 2012). Communication is the key to every business. Every plan documented has to be very specific, understandable, and addressing the right group of individuals. This framework will be used to communicate effectively with the customers. The technical writing team will have to write the Standard of Operation procedure (SOP) when documenting the production information. The SOP will be clear and concise explaining the needed information for the flash drive installation. Each procedure will be detailed in action words. For example, when the BOLDFlash drive product #A23-B is inserted into a USB port, a screenshot of the procedures for accessing it will be taken to indicate to the customers the next step to take. The instructions will be understandable and be appealing to the customers using pictures to explain what is written. A copy of the internal product document about the new product will need to be given to every department. Frequently asked questions and answers will be readily available to assist customers who are having difficulty.
A contact information will be provided especially for customers who are audio or visual listeners. It is important to acknowledge the age, ethnicity, demographics, and gender of the customers and how they receive the message communicated. For the internal communication, there are many ways to communicate within the departments effectively with the right context. The language used to communicate should be clear and very concise. Communicating in the problem-solution context within the departments will encourage a more effective communication. It is important to clarify what all parties understood during the communication and any follow-up expectations that may exist and to check back later to see if the actions discussed have been taken to close loops (Richard).
Training Plan: Communication
This training plan and area of focus guidelines will be very useful when it comes to training all BOLDFlash employee especially because of the communication issues they’ve been facing internally and externally. The reason for this training plan and area of focus guideline is to outline how BOLDFlash can improve communication and collaborate effectively while producing quality products. The vice president of the Mobile Division will be the person to establish the training plan for everyone involved. The project management team will also have guidelines in this on how to have a better and effective communication. Technical communication is an oral and written communication for and about a business and industry (Gerson, 2017).
The areas of focus that will need possible improvement within the Mobile Division are the technical service communication, internal business process, and product document. To actualize this business goal some aspects of communication is meant to be considered such as who, what, when, where, and how. This means that during this training, explanations about who is to be trained, who will speak during the training, what will be discussed, the time and locations, and how the training will be done will be explained as well. The most effective way to succeed with this training is to know the audience; technical mobile division management (primary audience) and BOLDFlash employees (secondary audience) and what communication strategies to use for each audience for effective communication.
Communication strategy in a corporate world can be identified as the means whereby a company communicates with its audience about strategies that bring about the success of a business plan (Pilbeam, 2013). With the problem already on the ground in BOLDFlash, effective communication is the key to the success of this project. The way BOLDFlash goes about getting the message out to the employees and customers is based on their core values and customer base. The first strategy to establish in this situation will be to get every employee to focus on a common goal. This will create a sense of unity when established in BOLDFlash. Another strategy to be considered for the communication channel is to actively engage everyone involved in the conversation about the project. This can be achieved by building positive relationships through conversations which will provide an opportunity where individual voices can be heard.
This training material will be addressing a primary audience which is the Technical Mobile Division management team, members. They are the low-tech audience and this training and information that comes with it will help the management team familiarize with BOLDFlash and its product line. This training will involve verbal, interactive and written documentation.
Training Plan: Collaboration
Collaboration is responsible for the majority of a company’s positive growth (Gerson, 2017). As business becomes increasingly global and cross-functional, silos are breaking down, connectivity is increasing, and teamwork is seen as a key to organizational success (Rob Cross, Reb Rebele, and Adam Grant, 2016). It is sometimes difficult to collaborate with others but such barriers can be removed through establishing a strong leadership that will unify the goals of BOLDFlash. BOLDFlash will grow when things are aligned the right way and employees will be assigned responsibilities because a positive customer experience is the end goal. Effective management training will pave way for collaboration among the employees, especially during other training.
Company websites are good ways for employees to go and find needed information thus, I will recommend that an intranet or web page which will serve as a wiki for the employees and it can be accessed with the company’s computers and outside the company only with the use of a username a password for security purposes. This web page will occasionally be updated bi-weekly or monthly with information and training materials as needed. The web page will encourage employees to take part in active learning online even outside the office.
Training Plan: Training Methods
Employee training and development program is a type of learning experience for the employees to improve their skills and performance in their skills and performance in their different roles (Bodimer, 2016). I will suggest that BOLDFlash use several training methods because it will help the employees learn and retain information effectively. For BOLDFlash, the goal of this training is to improve communications within the company (internally and externally), introduce and improve skills, and create a better work environment for the employees. The people to be trained are the upper management, IT staff, and employees (new and old). The training methods may include interactive training, hands-on training, computer-based training (CBT), and e-learning.
A meeting will be set up for the departmental heads where the product will be explained in detail. The speaker in this meeting will be communicating through the web camera and training videos to describe the new product. A handout will be distributed to give a clear understanding of the new product. A handout will be distributed to give clear understanding of the new product. When the meeting is over, the departmental heads will need to inform the department staff the outcome of the meeting before the new product is launched on the intranet homepage. The upper management will receive a report and a persuasive proposal to release funds for the product promotion. The sales and marketing team will be introducing the product to the market using oral presentation or training video to ensure clarity. A detailed training video and production document hardcopy will be provided for the technical support so they can help the customers when the need arises. The manufacturing will receive an oral presentation with the work instructions and training video so they can provide product help to the employees.
The interactive training method will help keep the trainees attentive and involved. Ways to achieve this includes Q&A sessions, group discussions, demonstrations, and case studies. This will also provide an opportunity for the trainees to give a feedback during the sessions. Hands-on training gives the trainer an idea of how well and fast the trainee has learned. This can include drills, demonstration, cross-training, and coaching. The hands-on training will give the employees an opportunity to do more than two descriptions if they learn appropriately. This will also give the trainer an idea of how well and fast the trainee has learned. Computer-based training will be used to help the employee develop and practice new skills and for refresher training. The possible methods to be used include text-only, virtual reality, and CD-ROM. E-learning will be very effective especially because BOLDFlash is an international company. It will save BOLDFlash a lot of money and training expenses. This method includes emails, webinars, conferences (audio and video), and web-based training.
This communication strategy and training plan are expected to encourage collaboration among the employees. For it to be effective, the work environment has to be available and conducive to active learning. Collaboration encourages consistent growth within the company and the management team will work on encouraging collaboration among every employee.
The different departments have failed in the business process which is of great concern to Roger. The three main areas of concern; internal business processes, technical service communication, and product installation documentation will be reviewed. The issues BOLDFlash is facing can be tackled by training the management team and stakeholders on how to communicate with new and existing employees and customers. this training will include teaching how to identify the audience, what message they need, and the best way to get to the audience.
The customers will be provided with the installation manual of the product in paper or on the website. The installation steps will be explained with pictures for better understanding. This will be the focus of the writing team. The communication team will be upholding BOLDFlash goals by training other stakeholders like manufacturing products, support team, marketing group among others.
The first step to actualizing an effective communication is identifying the audience and working towards capturing their attention. It is important to have a target audience (Carter) because the language, channels, and information you use to communicate with and appeal to one demographic may not be as effective with another: having a target audience gives you direction in your marketing, facilitates more consistency in your messaging, and allows you to deepen your connection with your customers (McCormick, 2017). Based on whether the audience is high-tech, low-tech, lay or multiple, you have to decide on when to use acronyms, abbreviations, and technical terminology and how to use them effectively (Gerson, 2017).
Identifying the information involves determining what information the audience needs by physically discussing with them and observing them (Gerson, 2017) to determine their needs, values, and attitude (Carter). Giving a diverse audience a high-tech information can cause confusion hence, recognizing the needs and importance of a multicultural audience (Gerson, 2017) will help you channel the right message. When identifying the information to present to the audience, the who, what, where, when, why, and how questions sets in (Carter).
When the audience need and information are identified, it will be easier to choose the right channel to communicate with. Making an announcement in BOLDFlash will most likely be through email because every employee has an email address.
Write and Review:
Writing entails gathering enough details for the message to be able to answer possible questions that involve the five Ws’ (who, what, when, where, and why). This provides a strong foundation for the review. In every technical communication writing, the subject matter is to be identified and organized (Pojuner, 2017), recognize the audience, and chose a channel of communication (Gerson, 2017). When reviewing, missing details are added for clarity and information moved around as needed (Gerson, 2017). The revision will explain if the discoveries are convincing enough.
The Training: Target Audience
The audience for this business process internally is BOLDFlash Technical Mobile Division management team (Appendix A). They are the ones in charge of making crucial decisions to align what is done in the department with the company’s priorities. This audience is low-tech because they share the knowledge of jargons known to just BOLDFlash employees (Michael Beer and Rachel Shelton, 2012) but they can barely understand what happens outside the department without clarification.
The targeted audience includes the stakeholders, management and executives, all employees, technicians, and the end users. When communicating with employees within the audience, having enough detail like, background information will benefit the audience (low-tech) because it’s clear and concise (Gerson, 2017).
Audience, Perspectives, Background
Jack Young, CEO, BOLDFlash
He is the head of the company and doesn’t necessarily need to be a high-tech audience, however, he’s supposed to be aware of what is happening in the different departments in the company.
He should have an insight of what is happening in the different departments.
Internal Business Process memos, business presentations and strategies, and reports (progress report), board meetings.
Roger Cahill, vice president, Mobile Division
He is the head of the mobile division. He’s to meet with the directors and departmental heads and do strategic planning and offer recommendations to the CEO during board meetings.
He should have an insight about the departmental progress, make plans, and resolve issues when they arise.
Internal Business Process memos, business proposals, production and sales reports, and departmental and board meetings.
Karl Melzer, Product Development Department Director
Kavita Patel, Marketing Director
Chip Brayant, Sales Director
They give instructions to the departments and report to the higher authorities.
Often update the vice president with information about the departmental functions and progress effectively.
Communicate with the stakeholder, attend meetings, and collaborate with team members.
Product Development Department Manager
High and low-tech audience
Marketing Department Manager
Sales Department Managers, Technical Support
High and low-the audience
Manufacturing Department Vice President
Manufacturing Department Plant Managers, Mobile Division.
The managers are to relate to their staff and report to the directors as needed. They are to organize and attend departmental meetings and update information. They work hard to get the product to the customers in time. The sales department are to work with the technical support team to better assist the customers.
Attend meeting with director, and departments submit results to director, communicate with team members and cross-functional departments
The Training: Message
The management is in agreement that communication (internal and external) in BOLDFlash needs improvement because of the lack of focus based on the previous events. Communication needs to be something business leaders seek to do whenever they can rather than considering it a checkbox before getting back to the “real work” of running the business (Krantz, 2015). When communicating technically, the management is expected to be clear and concise to the relevant areas. Effective technical communication demands the audience involvement (Gerson, 2017). The business memos should give managers the information they need to implement the process of effective communication in their departments (Gerson, 2017) while discussing how and where it will be effective.
The messages from the managers will be the needed message and easy to understand. The message will indicate what they need to do, why they need to do it when to do it, and how to do it. It should be at the core of all of your communications, a simple and inspiring message that is easy to relate to and understand (Everse, 2011). To determine what message needs to be delivered, the benefit and value of the product to the customers has to be identified (Beyer, 2016).
The Training: Critique
The message critique goes in line with feedback. Regardless of the audience, miscommunication in technical communication can lead to loss of credibility (Gerson, 2017) to make the conversation more effective, be consistent with how you deliver both good and bad news (Murad, 2013). Internal communication should only express and be understandable to avoid confusion. The message has to be specific to avoid hearsay (Murad, 2013).
A call to action, when added to the message give the readers some level of understanding of what is expected of them (Gerson, 2017) adding a timeframe to a message helps reduce delay. It’s used in business as part of a marketing strategy to get your target market to respond to action (Lilyquist, 2017). It is important for a business not to assume that the target audience automatically knows what is expected of them to avoid complications (Lilyquist, 2017). Feedback is essential for every successful communication. Feedbacks can be received through many means such as blogs, social media, survey, an interview.
Adaptation Examples: Example
I would suggest that Jack Thompson should send a memo to Chip Bryant and Karl Melzer about product documentation and impacts from R.
From: Jack Thompson – Manager, technical support team
To: Chip Bryant – sales director, Karl Melzer – product development director
Subject: A23 – B installation instruction review
Priority: very important
Hello Mr. Bryant and Mr. Melzer,
After several attempts to fix the lack of effectiveness of the product documentation, the problem is still persistent. The new A23 – B flash drive needs to be reviewed according to the R. My team is having issues with assisting customers. If the installation instructions are clear and concise and detailed with picture explanations, my team will do better to assist customers. I will be willing to set up a meeting with you and plan on how to set up a training with the product development team for my team.
I am looking forward to your response.
Adaptation Examples: Alternative Adaptation
All the departments are expected to be able to read and understand the product documentation and installation of the flash drive. The product documentation and training communication will be made easy for every type of audience and a step by step installation instruction is to be provided.
This guidelines and framework outlined will be used in BOLDFlash to document products in a user-friendly manner. The identifying the intended audience is the key aspect of this improvement. The old documentation addressed just the technical support but this documentation can be comprehended by all audience member with the aid of the pictures provided. BOLDFlash will be expecting a lot of feedback from the customers when this documentation is implemented.