A critical eye and a dash of creativity

Tall, outspoken and beaming with confidence,
Tuire Siikala is the quintessential power woman. As Solibri’s technical writer, she works towards making the software easily understandable by professionals and beginners alike. We meet her to discuss technical writing, coupling creativity with rigid rules, and the magic of Shiba Inus.

What does an average day at Solibri look like?

Although I could work from anywhere, I love working at the Solibri headquarters, as the social aspect of my job is really important to me. Right now, I’m working on a manual for Solibri Model Checker, improving our online helpdesk, and building the new Solibri website. I love the fact that every day is different; I love to work with different people on different projects, since when I write documentation, I mostly work alone. I like to shake things up once in a while — even my favourite colour changes depending on the season!

How did you become a technical writer and what is the most intriguing aspect of technical communication?

When I started studying technical communication, I quickly noticed that I was naturally good at it. It felt effortless and logical. I’m an innovator and problem solver, and technical writing is, in its essence, problem-solving: you need to find a way to communicate complicated technical things in a simple and understandable way. A skilled technical writer is persistent and pays attention to minute details. You also need to understand what you’re writing about, as you need to be able to communicate efficiently to not only users but also to engineers and people who live and breathe technology.

What drives you professionally?

To me, it’s vital to have a chance to make a real difference. Even though working in a company like Solibri is, at times, challenging, it’s incredible to see how much my work is appreciated. I’ve always been outspoken and critical, and I want to tackle problems head-first. At Solibri, I get an opportunity to do that and feel like I’m contributing to the success of the company in a very concrete way.

What’s the most challenging aspect about your job?

Mapping and harmonising the company’s documentation environment and assessing the users’ needs are the biggest challenges I’m dealing with right now. I’m also continuously brainstorming new formats for the future. In addition to this, I’m exploring different avenues of designing documentation based on the users’ experiences and feedback. 

How is your job visible to the software’s end user?

My job is to produce coherent, up-to-date, high-quality and easy-to-use documentation for users. I hope that the documentation I create helps users optimise their workflow and that the tutorials and trainings equip them with new ideas for both their day-to-day roles and using the software. I want to bring the user and the usability to the fore.

Is being a technical writer a curse or a blessing? 

It has definitely made me extremely critical towards any kind of text and communication in general. It affects the way I look at technical writing, but other genres, too. I have a few pet peeves; I’m a stickler for correct compound words, and I always get really irritated when I encounter clumsy translations!

What do you do in your spare time?

I love Shiba Inu dogs (a native Japanese spitz breed), and most of my spare time is spent working with the National Shiba Club of Finland that turned 10 years last year. It’s a project without end; there’s so much you could do! I’m the club chair and therefore am involved in every part of the club’s activities, including events organising and the breeding committee. Being a part of the club has enhanced my teamwork skills, but it has also taught me that it’s not possible to do everything. You only have so many hours in a day! I’m also involved in urban permaculture in my hometown Tampere. We grow zucchini, different kinds of beans, kale, carrot and flowers. In addition to my other hobbies, I also do a lot of handicrafts; knitting, sewing and furniture restoration.

If you weren’t a technical writer, what would you do for a living?

If I had to do something completely different, I’d raise sheep, because they’re wonderful animals! That could be a very interesting venture.