TecCOM - Profession of Technical Communication


Information mining

Infomining is one of the first activities a technical writers has to organise to collect information needed for the project.

Technical writers need to know the principles and methods of collecting information. They identify subject matter experts, they know how to contact them. They acquire and analyse product knowledge, they analyse end-users and competitors.

Technical writers identify information needs and sources, then they analyse them and select pertinent information.

Knowledge domain
  • Understand the specific requirements for a particular industry or knowledge domain, e.g., technical, medical, pharmaceutical, IT, telecommunications, economical, legal
  • Review the literature

see also domain knowledge

Target group analysis
  • Understand and apply methods of characterising target groups, e.g. target group analysis (e.g., Persona method, who-does-what matrix)
  • Classify and characterise target groups
  • Gather data about the target group; acquire “hard data” regarding the target group (e.g., from studies, the company’s customer contacts (e.g., from service, support) or from usability studies)
  • Plan, execute and assess a target group analysis, basic principles and systematic problems
  • Acquire information using various target-group analysis methods (e.g., methods that aim to describe target-group features as opposed to methods that are geared towards the use of the product/usage situation)
  • Use results obtained from target group analyses, user profiles and “hard data” for the information product concept
  • Conduct target group analyses to analyse e.g. product usage, use cases, task analysis, user experience, user needs with other methods (e.g. customer journey, observation, survey, thinking aloud)

see also evaluation and user experience

Target-group characteristics
  • Characterise features of target groups
  • Investigate personal characteristics of members of the target group
  • Catalogue trends in behaviours of target groups
  • Understand developments and trends in use of media, expectations and requirements placed on media and presentations
  • Identify target-group characteristics that have an impact on the use of an information product and consequences for creating an information product (e.g., age, level of expert knowledge, technological expertise, level of education, culture, language skills, media competence, colour blindness, disabilities, users' technical equipment, rights of use, distribution channels)
  • Understand the target group’s usage environment (e.g., in order to determine the most suitable publication medium)
  • Understand the target group’s degree of familiarity with technologies
  • Understand the objectives of characterising target groups and target-group analysis
Culture-specific aspects of the target group
  • Understand culture-specific differences in the way that information is processed (e.g., characters, colours, images, reading direction) 
  • Understand cultural aspects of pictorial and symbolic language
  • Understand culture-specific differences regarding expected ways in which information is presented
  • Understand culture- and country-specific aspects of the target group when using the information product and when using media
  • Understand culture- and country-specific aspects of the target group that might impact use of the product
  • Understand culture-specific methods of working
  • Understand country-specific aspects and requirements (e.g., linguistic, terminological, technical, organisational) that must be taken into account when creating information products for international markets.

see also interculturality

Product analysis
  • Analyse technology
  • Acquire product knowledge (technologies, application, risks, safety aspects etc.) in order to develop information products
  • Analyse the functionality (e.g. structure, features, functions, usage)
  • Analyse product structure, controls, product features, functions and product usage (including accessories and spare parts) in every phase of the product life-cycle (e.g., commissioning, operation, control, maintenance, service, repair, disposal) and of relevant information for this purpose (e.g., compatibility with previous/subsequent products, modifications, development)
  • Analyse product versions
  • Analyse interfaces and integration into systems (plant manufacturing)
  • Analyse use of product (e.g., use-case analysis, task analysis, observation, context interviews)
  • Plan, execute and evaluate a specific method of analysing product usage; basic principles and systematic problems
  • Use results obtained by analysing product usage for the information product concept
  • Conduct product analysis

see also evaluation and user experience

Product features and information product
  • Understand features of the product (e.g., controls, display) and resulting requirements, restrictions and options for the information product (e.g., data transfer, operation and control using apps, interfaces)
  • Understand requirements placed on the product by the information product (e.g., how must the product be constructed in order to provide the information product, e.g., storage of information, codes)
  • Understand specific requirements in the case of electronic information products (e.g., integration of context-sensitive Help and/or embedded help in software user interfaces)
  • Analyse technologies used and their degree of familiarity to the target group (e.g., whether it is a familiar or unfamiliar technology)
  • Deduce, from such analysis, the consequences of technologies used on the information product’s concept (e.g., whether it is familiar or unfamiliar technology, whether it is a market launch or already established on the market)
Information specification
  • Determine and specify the product-specific themes for which information needs to be obtained (e.g., technology, product, application, risks, safety aspects)
  • Determine and specify the higher-level themes, such as legal, support and maintenance, training
  • Criteria for distinguishing between confidential and non­confidential information and for assessing sources, their reliability (e.g., relevance, up­to­dateness) and information quality
  • Identify the information needs of people, institutions, companies

see also legal requirements and standards 

Information acquisition
  • Determine exploitable information sources (e.g., independent product usage, product training courses, available information (e.g., specifications, developers’ documents, suppliers, archives, databases, flyers, catalogs, company brochures)
  • Understand methods for information acquisition (e.g., online, paper­based, by phone, face­to­face)
  • Deal with problems encountered in acquiring information (e.g., time management, information availability) and possible strategies to solve them
  • Work with questioning strategies and types of questions (e.g., open, closed, “W” questions) for information acquisition objectives
  • Be able to do the information acquisition follow­up (e.g., structuring of results, e.g., by using mind-mapping), filing and archiving
  • Choose and interview subject matter experts (phone, email, face to face)
  • Use questioning strategies
  • Solve problems (time management, information availability)
  • Organise information acquisition (structuring of results, mind map) and archiving
  • Collect and protect information

see also information management

Technical requirements

Understand country-specific technical requirements (e.g., materials, socket outlets, voltage) that must be taken into account when creating information products for international markets


Information selection
  • Use appropriate methods to select information (e.g., use cases, customer journey)
  • Understand the criteria for preparing information (e.g., perspective, depth of information, degree of detail)
  • Prepare information (e.g., selection, assessment, weighting)
  • Search for, evaluate and choose sources of information
  • Know the principles of organising and ordering information