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My Portfolio / Information Architecture / Implementation Docs

Restructuring and updating implementation and setup documentation

Aim: Improve the usability of implementation and setup documentation to ensure that it meets the needs of different personas and set new customers up for success with streamlined guidance for efficient and effective onboarding.

Problem

 

I had previously conducted research to understand common barriers to customer success with the product. Colleagues in Product, UX Research, Technical Support, and Customer Success consistently highlighted installation, configuration, and setup processes as key problem areas. In the short term, I worked with a software engineer to update a core article on the technical aspects of installation and configuration, and revamped several articles for "tagging", which is key to setting up customers to use the product.

 

In the longer-term, I wanted to adopt a more holistic approach to improving the implementation and setup documentation, not just deal with individual parts. I wanted to demystify and help streamline the whole onboarding process for customers with restructured, updated, and new content.

​Pendo then shifted its strategy to a more unified application experience, calling for a larger documentation initiative than initially intended. With buy-in and collaboration from colleagues, I set out to:

  • Document both implementation methods, now positioned within a single platform; and

  • Improve guidance for onboarding customers.

Install overview doc
Pag URL doc

Process

1

Identify the "as-is"

I first took inventory of the existing content and attempted to map this against a customer workflow. It became clear that I needed to also incorporate other important tasks and considerations, including key setup activities that lived in the Analytics product documentation.

2

Define the "to-be"

I spoke with 20 colleagues about the current and future state of the content structure as it related to their areas of expertise. Based on these conversations, I created and brought an evolving plan to a larger group of stakeholders for discussion and collaboration.

3

Update the content

I worked with a Program Manager to plan content collaboration and updates, organised by category. I set up a weekly sync to update and discuss changes with interested stakeholders, and to ask for collaboration on current tasks related to the restructure.

1. Identify the "as-is"

I kickstarted this project in Confluence, where I documented the project's intent, reasoning, value, and approach.

We needed installation, configuration, and setup content that was useful for different personas at different points in the customer journey. This included technical users at the point of installation and configuration, who want specific, step-by-step instructions based on their particular use case, and non-technical users involved in planning and co-ordinating essential tasks, such as tagging parts of their applications.​

With these different needs in mind, I used Miro to:

 

  • Map existing articles against a customer onboarding workflow based on input from PMs and customer-facing colleagues.

  • Group existing installation and configuration articles, and identify issues and gaps, based on input from engineering colleagues.

Mapping the workflow for key onboarding activities revealed a customer journey that didn't match the flow of documentation, leading to customer overwhelm and confusion. Important information was distributed across the knowledge base. Some was located in install sections and some in the Analytics product documentation. Other important information was missing.

 

To provide a complete, logical, and user-friendly information experience, the implementation and setup documentation needed to be restructured and signposted appropriately, and individual installation and configuration articles needed updates, streamlining, and clarification.

Snapshot of Miro board
Article grouping

2. Define the "to-be"

Initially, my aim for the core Pendo knowledge base was twofold:

  • Restructure the implementation and setup documentation so that it follows a logical flow, making key setup information easier to find, understand, and use, as well as being in line with best practices.

  • Clean up the install-specific content and create quick-start guides catering to specific technical use cases (e.g., installing on a single-page versus on a multi-page application).

At the same time as restructuring and rewriting quick-start technical content for the install section, aimed at engineers, I also started interviewing customer-facing colleagues to:

 

  • Ask them to describe the implementation and setup process as they saw it in the context of their interactions with customers.

  • Gather insight into key issues they face with onboarding new customers.

  • Share an evolving structure for implementation and setup, inviting comment on what made sense and what didn't.
  • Ask them to share the order of activities they engage in with new customers.

  • Understand what resources and processes they rely on to help set customers up for success and reduce time-to-value.

Soon after I began this process, Pendo shifted its business strategy for a more unified customer experience, opting to offer all functionality in one platform instead of across two product lines. This meant that there were now two implementation methods to document instead of one. The appropriate implementation method depended on the customer's specific use case.

 

I continued speaking to colleagues, with this upcoming change in mind. I gathered insights from 20 colleagues in total, modifying the proposed structure as I went. This endeavour included colleagues in Technical Support, Professional Services, Technical Account Management, Customer Success, Sales, Engineering, Security, Product, and senior and general management.

 

The proposed restructure of content started in a spreadsheet in Google Docs, which I then moved to a Miro board for more flexible brainstorming and comparison. I then set up a group meeting to discuss my plans, bring up any outstanding questions I had, and invite comments, feedback, and collaboration.

PHOTO-2024-06-05-20-14-43.jpg
WhatsApp Image 2024-06-04 at 15.50.31.jpeg
Implementation structure Miro board

3. Update the content

I decided to first focus on creating a Welcome to Pendo section to help new customers understand how to go about implementing Pendo, as appropriate for their specific use cases. I worked with program management to kick off updating this introductory content with a group brainstorming session.

Following this session, and with the help of a Program Manager assigned to this project by executive sponsors, a
 plan for updating content was created in Confluence. Key milestones were organised by category of content:

  • Welcome to Pendo. Create an introductory category for key considerations and concepts, including implementation methods to help prospects and new customers make decisions about which route would be best for them.

  • Third-party (extension) implementation. Pull in existing third-party implementation articles, update the content, and fill in gaps. Prior to this project, I was already collaborating with colleagues in Professional Services and Engineering to rewrite and restructure articles in a separate knowledge base when Pendo was still supporting two product lines instead of a single, integrated platform.

  • First-party (direct web) implementation. Restructure and rewrite first-party implementation documentation, organised around a similar framework to the third-party installation and configuration articles: PlanInstallConfigure, and Manage apps.

  • Settings. Transform the Subscription category into a Settings category, including sections for each level of settings (org, sub, app, and user). This involved creating new articles for undocumented settings, updating content in existing articles, and moving remaining content to more appropriate categories in the knowledge base.

  • Security and privacy. Create a dedicated Security and privacy category and then move, merge, and update content in this category with input from the Chief Security Officer and the Staff Security Enablement Engineer.

  • Setup (people and application definition). Pull content related to data modelling activities out of the Analytics product documentation into its own category, and define how this category and its sections should be named.


Throughout this process, I used a Miro board and dedicated Slack channel as vehicles for ongoing transparency and calls for collaboration.​ I also set up weekly Zoom meetings to ask questions and to get input and feedback from colleagues. Before each meeting, I provided a summary of what was done, what I was working on, and what I needed help with, allowing stakeholders to judge whether they needed to attend (or were interested in attending) the upcoming sync.

Miro board of security and privacy content
Screenshot 2024-06-15 at 23.59.35.png

40

New articles

First, I created articles for the Welcome to Pendo category to help customers orient themselves. I also added six "quick start" engineer-focussed Install guides to the Direct web implementation category, along with an overview article summarising the options. Most of the articles (23) in the Browser extension implementation category were pulled from another knowledge base and three were brand new. Across categories, seven new articles were created from existing content, pulled into their own articles

for findability and updated for clarity.

22

Updated articles

Specifically for this restructure, I updated 22 articles. The most involved article updates, consisting of close collaboration with more technical colleagues, belonged to the Plan section of the Direct web implementation category and the Policies and considerations section of the Privacy and security category. The Data in Pendo category was assigned to another Technical Writer who was responsible for the Analytics documentation and was thus already responsible for most of the articles moved to this new category.

5

New categories

Brand new categories included Welcome to Pendo, Browser extension implementation, Security and privacy, and Data in Pendo (corresponding with the "Setup" milestone). Subscription was changed to Settings and articles were moved either in or out of this category based on this new name. Later, I added another category for a third (Mobile) implementation option, which was structured to match the other two implementation options: Plan, Install, Configure, and Manage apps. 

Outcomes

The main outcome was a complete overhaul of the information architecture for the implementation and setup documentation to reflect a logical onboarding flow, in line with feedback from colleagues. This included new categories and sections, new signposting, and new and updated content. The following list of outcomes is organised around key needs for new customers that the documentation restructure was designed to cater for:

Orientation and planning

  • Created an introductory (Welcome to Pendo) category and wrote new articles to help customers orient themselves and understand their options.

  • Merged and updated security and privacy content, and created a dedicated category (Security and privacy) for this information in the knowledge base.

  • Updated and redistributed content needed for planning and co-ordinating implementation and data modelling tasks.

Implementation (installation and configuration)

  • Renamed, re-organised, and updated categories, sections, and articles related to installation and configuration for two implementation methods (Direct web implementation and Browser extension implementation).

  • Organised each implementation method around the following, ordered activities: PlanInstallConfigure, and Manage apps.

  • Created short, procedural instructions targeted at specific engineering use cases for installation and configuration, including example code where appropriate.

Setup (settings and data modelling)

  • Created a dedicated Settings category and separated updated settings-related content into different sections within this category.

  • Moved content relevant to data modelling (application and people definition) from the Analytics product area into its own category (Data in Pendo).

Left-side navigation for the Knowledge Base

Image: The left-side navigation for the knowledge base after the first major phase of the restructure effort.

Note: Later, after the first major phase of this project was complete, a third implementation option, Mobile implementation, owned by another technical writer, was added.

Senior Customer Success Engineer

"[T]he updated setup and install sections of the KB are SO MUCH BETTER - this is going to help customers so much"

Challenges and learnings

Colleague bandwidth

Some categories of content took longer to create and update than others due to differences in colleague time and interest. Since I needed to carry out the work in stages anyway, and with the help of the Program Manager assigned to this project, I was able to kickstart tasks whilst working on others in the meantime. There was always something to do, even when I was blocked in other areas.

Scope​

The scope of the project changed to account for a shift in business strategy, which involved merging features from two product lines. This expanded the original goal, from reorganising and updating implementation and setup content, to incorporating information and instructions for another implementation method. The upside to this was that it was easier to obtain executive sponsors and colleague interest.

Signposting

The most common, but also the most interesting, challenge was deciding how to best categorise and name content in a meaningful, useful, and customer-centric way. For example:

  • There was some back-and-forth about the best location and section names for content related to team management and access, specifically, whether this content belonged in Subscription settings or new sections in the new Security and privacy category.

  • Numerous factors impact the implementation method a customer chooses and these don't always necessitate one method over the other. This made it difficult to identify and choose appropriate names for the two implementation categories, agnostic to the use case, but still informative.

  • Setup (data modelling) tasks, previously distributed across sections in the Analytics category, involve defining the application areas and visitors that customers then track in their analytics and use to target guides. These activities are both prerequisite and ongoing tasks. "Setup" implies that you only need to do these tasks once, whilst more generic terms like "administration" and "core functionality" don't provide enough specificity. We settled on Data in Pendo, subject to change following feedback from customers and customer-facing teams.

 

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