business development, craft, data and metrics

Critique My Code, Please

note, this article was originally published on LinkedIn

matrix-3109378_1280
Image by Jae Rue from Pixabay

 

ROUTINE ShouldYouHireAWriter(ContentCalendar, SubjectMatterExpertList)

DIM ContentCalendar AS array(ContentIndex, ProductionDate, ContentType, SkillRequired, LeadTime)

DIM SubjectMatterExpertList AS array(Name, AreaOfExpertise, WritingSkill, AvailableHours)

FOR EACH ContentIndex IN ContentCalendar

    FOR EACH Name IN SubjectMatterExpertList

        IF Professionals.WritingSkill < ContentCalendar.SkillRequired THEN

ShouldYouHireAWriter = TRUE

            CALL Hire(Writer(ContentType, SkillRequired))

            ENDIF

        ELSE IF Professionals.AvailableHours < ContentCalendar.LeadTime THEN

ShouldYouHireAWriter = TRUE

            CALL Hire(Writer(ContentType, AvailableHours))

            ENDIF

        ELSE ShouldYouHireAWriter = FALSE

        NEXT SubjectMatterExpertList.Name

    NEXT ContentCalendar.ContentIndex

END SUB

***

Let me Real-People-Speak that for you all.

For those who aren’t programmers, here’s what this says.

If you’ve got some kind of content your marketing team has decided is necessary to the essential function of your business (a Case Study, perhaps, or a blog post about a new product you’re developing for a growing market), you may want to get some outside help for that.

But – how do you decide whether or not to engage that outside professional? I have two criteria:

1) Do you have skill in that type of content?

Maybe you’ve never written a blog post before. Maybe you’ve never written anything before. Your skill is going to be defined not only by your writing skill, but your professional area. Are you a programmer? Maybe you shouldn’t be writing about end-user support, even though you’ve been asked to. If your skill is not up to what’s required of the piece of content, you should probably hire a writer.

2) Do you have enough time to do it?

Perhaps you’re neck-deep in requirements and coding for that very same model update that you’ve got to get out before quarter-end, and you know that taking ten hours of your time in the next month to write this stupid case study just isn’t in your budget. At that point, perhaps you need to spend less time writing and outsource that project. A good one could potentially cut your ten hours of drafting, revision, and review into a one-hour interview. What else could you produce in those nine hours? Might it be better to let you specialize there?

This mini-program essentially cycles through each piece of content and asks those two questions. Yes, it’s written a little facetiously. I know the syntax is probably way off, and there are clearly undefined subroutines that, should I try to get this to compile, would be throwing off errors like the Bad News Bears. Give me a break, I haven’t actually coded anything in like 6 months.

But the point is to show that there are pretty good reasons why you might look to outside help. And this routine would apply not only to writing content, it should apply to everything you do. [I use content creation because, frankly, that’s what I’m neck-deep in right now.]

First, evaluate whether your team has the necessary skill to complete the project upcoming. If not, you’re going to need some help.

Once you decide you do have the skill, determine if they have enough time to complete it. If not, you’re going to need some help.

And “need some help” doesn’t always mean hiring a professional to do that exact thing you want done, whether it’s building a retaining wall, shooting a promotional video, or even meeting with a client.

Sometimes, you might wish to hire another full-time person to do those specific tasks. Others, it might be that you should remove some of the lower-level tasks on your professional’s to-do list by reassigning them, thus freeing up more time in that high-level production arena.

The point is, you have options. Remember that, and don’t just assume that everyone you already employ can do everything. That’s why we’ve created this specialization economy, anyway. You should take advantage of it.

***

Stephan Mathys is a technical content writer for really smart professionals in the actuarial, data science, and engineering fields. You can reach him with questions about this article or his book, The Handbook of Content Marketing, at stephan@sjmcopywriting.com.

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