One-Plus Year at Bentley

I sup­pose I owe those who read this site some­thing a bit more upbeat regard­ing last year than my pre­vi­ous post-2008 post. So I want­ed to focus on one of the very pos­i­tive things that hap­pened to us last year.

My job at Bent­ley.

I had a good feel­ing about this posi­tion from ear­ly on, part­ly due to hap­pen­ing across the BE Com­mu­ni­ties site (as I post­ed ear­li­er). I had joined before actu­al­ly offi­cial­ly com­ing to work but due to a back-end issue, was­n’t able to start blog­ging for a cou­ple of months after­wards.

And though blog­ging isn’t exact­ly my pri­ma­ry role as the tech writer for the struc­tures group, I felt like this was a good way to apply some of my inter­ests to my job. It also hap­pens that I work for a com­pa­ny that has real­ly embraced giv­ing it’s employ­ees a voice.

I think over the past cou­ple of years, we’ve all read or heard of com­pa­nies that have gone “trans­par­ent.” That is, they allow employ­ees &emdash; often high-rank­ing or at least high-pro­file employ­ees &emdash; to speak plain truths to the mass­es. They start blogs, cre­ate pod­casts, guest on news pro­grams, and so on. Those who do so with suc­cess are often the hum­ble who are will­ing to admit being human. They seem unfil­tered and hon­est. When they speak of suc­cess or make promis­es, they seem that much more believ­able. And there’s good evi­dence this strat­e­gy works in a mar­ket of cyn­ics and skep­tics, all con­nect­ed to the giant mega­phone that is the inter­nets.

And I, for one, think this is a good thing.

BE Communities logo
BE Com­mu­ni­ties logo

Which is great now that I’m work­ing for an employ­er that gives not only all of its employ­ees an open account on the com­pa­ny’s site from which to blog, edit wikis, etc. but they also pro­vide this for their users as well. Basi­cal­ly, it is total access to any and all employ­ees1 from every lev­el of the com­pa­ny: from the CEO (who does post at least as much as I do!) down to every new employ­ee. It has quick­ly become a part of the com­pa­ny cul­ture. Much to the cred­it of the Bent­ley broth­ers, they appear to ful­ly believe in the ben­e­fit of this open com­mu­ni­ty of employ­ees and users. One area is the use of wikis for doc­u­men­ta­tion pur­pos­es. Of course we’re still inter­nal­ly work­ing out the mechan­ics of just how to make the best use of wikis for this. We have already put a lot of FAQs, Tech­Notes, tuto­ri­als, and user man­u­als in wiki for­mat already, though.

In addi­tion to pro­duc­ing some blog posts, wiki pages, and screen­casts for work, I’ve of course been writ­ing doc­u­men­ta­tion for soft­ware. This, too, has been a fun learn­ing expe­ri­ence. Of course I enjoy writ­ing — you’re read­ing a blog, aren’t you? I’ve also learned that the tech­ni­cal writ­ing indus­try is mov­ing towards adopt­ing a lot of the same changes that are hap­pen­ing in the world of Web 2.0. Name­ly, using sym­man­tic, struc­tured doc­u­ments which can be re-styled and re-mixed for dif­fer­ent doc­u­ment des­ti­na­tions (think: web-based help, user man­u­al, instal­la­tion guide, etc). I’ve also got­ten the oppor­tu­ni­ty to be a part of this.

So, if it isn’t obvi­ous, I’ve been enjoy­ing this immense­ly. I’ve been giv­en the oppor­tu­ni­ty to actu­al­ly make use of my hob­by-lev­el inter­est in all things web. Some of the things I’ve learned in work­ing on this site have direct­ly helped me in my cur­rent job. It’s been a per­fect com­bi­na­tion for me of my pro­fes­sion­al back­ground (struc­tur­al engi­neer­ing) and my inter­ests in oth­er areas of tech­nol­o­gy and the web.

Going for­ward, as I’m becom­ing more famil­iar with the tech­ni­cal writ­ing com­mu­ni­ty, I plan on post­ing some find­ings and thoughts here on my expe­ri­ences. But before I get into that (and the inevitable rants and com­plaints that will come), I want­ed to just say how won­der­ful it has been to find a job that end­ed up being a per­fect fit for my inter­ests.

  1. Employ­ees who wish to con­tribute, of course. Not all employ­ees are as active for a vari­ety of rea­sons (not the least of which is that they’re actu­al­ly kind of busy). How­ev­er, as you can see, there’s some good incen­tive to for them to do so. []