I'm a freelance technical writer with 20 years of experience writing and producing technical documents, presentations, and videos. I'm also a qualified PRINCE2 project manager and my career roles include Publishing Manager, Data Management and Business Analyst. I live in Canberra, Australia.
I have deep experience with a wide range of tech topics, learn new topics quickly and have the demonstrable skills to collaborate with your business leaders and tech experts to produce clear and compelling documents.
I've worked with CEOs, National Boards, Subject Matter Experts, graphic designers, editors, programmers, marketing agencies, IT contractors, video producers, usability experts, government departments and many end users.
My freelance rate is between AUD $60-$100 per hour, depending on the complexity of the project. I am happy to discuss this rate with you when we talk about your project.
Contact me if you'd like to discuss your project with me.
Some of the people, companies, and organisations who have utilised my technical writing, publishing, and communications skills.
"Derek's ability as an analyst to get up to speed instantly with little guidance, on highly complicated and domain-specific source materials was second to none - working from the most granular level all the way up to the highest strategy levels. I believe Derek would be a valuable, versatile asset to any team that needs business or technical analysis (or both!)."
BluePrint Data, Technical specifications client
"Thank you. I appreciate all your work and how quickly you were able to get it back to me. =)"
Mona B, Document workflow client
"The Board of the day and subsequent Boards of ECA supported your recommendations which resulted in the organisation being recognised as forward thinking and innovative. Such recognition was evident when the government selected ECA as the provider of support services to the early childhood education and care sector consistently over the past years."
Ros Cornish, Past Early Childhood Australia National President, Employer
"By god! This may have done it!"
Rick N, Document workflow client
"Derek Newman is a remarkable employee. He has outstanding intellect, is a highly effective manager, coach and mentor, an excellent strategic, visionary and innovative thinker who can see the whole picture and is expert at conceptualising and building systems to streamline complex structures and processes. Derek doesn't just have ideas he also gets things done."
Pam Cahir, Immediate Past CEO Early Childhood Australia, Employer
"This was brilliant as usual. I hope to see more stories from you in the new series."
Editor, EA EduDesign, Storytelling client
Categorised examples from my portfolio demonstrating my skills and experience.
There is some overlap between the categories. For example, if you write a project proposal, it will probably have a business case and a high-level project plan. After you receive funding, you might then need to research user requirements, write detailed technical specifications, implement a data management plan, and produce user help documentation.
Most of the time technical writing is a deeply collaborative process. In most of the examples below, I have been solely responsible for delivering the technical documentation and the task almost always includes working together with other team members and stakeholders.
"There is no point backing a horse that is not running." I learned a lot from my boss, who received $10+ million in funding for government projects. If you are writing a proposal, you must first understand the policy and outcome objectives of the funding organisation. Then you need to frame your proposal for funding within the policy and outcome objectives. The work is highly collaborative, can involve multiple stakeholders, and can take weeks or months to complete.
Some examples of proposal writing projects I have worked on:
A business case is essentially an argument for funding. Most of the business cases I have worked in involve making a case for spending money, usually at the beginning of a project. A business case will describe the business environment, current opportunities and threats, and the expected benefits from investing in a project. A business case can be relatively simple or complex and can take between a week or several months to produce. A business case can also be a component of a Proposal Document.
Some examples of business cases I have worked on:
A project plan is a risk mitigation tool, a calendar, a daily checklist, and a stakeholder communications tool.
Some examples of Project Management Plans I have worked on:
Technical and functional specifications are a lot of work. These projects can take weeks or months to complete.
Some examples of technical and functional specifications I have worked on:
"The greatest software sin is building something that nobody uses." You need to get a working prototype with real data in front of a user and validate or repudiate your value hypothesis as soon as possible. You need to talk to users and understand their specific problem.
Some examples of user requirements documentation I have worked on:
Clearly written documents with step-by-step screenshots or well-paced videos are the best way to onboard new users and customers.
Some examples of user guides and help documentation I have worked on:
Policies and procedures help new hires understand what you are expecting from them as employess as well as a risk management tool.
Some examples of policies and procedures I have worked on:
You need to know that the data that is informing your decisions is correct and current.
Some examples of data management documentation I have worked on:
An API is a window into a dataset.
Some examples of web services documentation I have worked on:
Sometimes it helps to show data on a map. I have extensive experience programming and creating content with Google Maps, KML, and QGIS.
Some examples of GIS projects I have worked on:
Deep experience optimising publishing workflows and reusing content across different publishing platforms.
Some examples of publishing workflow optimisation projects I have worked on:
I wrote "Use online technologies successfully : a workbook for children's services and other small businesses" back in 2004 as part of the early childhood sector technology modernisation project. It was a simple how-to-guide for people who were not familiar with computers and the internet. I curated a large number of resources from the not-for-profit sector in the United States and Europe and adapated those resources for the Australian early childhood sector.
Here is the National Library of Australia record: NLA record
I grew up in Melbourne, Australia before the internet and have always been fascinated by technology and engineering. Our television was black and white and had a 'rabbit ears' antenna, my grandparents used wood chips to heat their showers and washing coppers. My grandfather worked with a hand-cranked calculator and my father used a slide rule to solve his accounting problems. I got up early on Saturday mornings to watch The Thunderbirds and Shintaro: The Samurai. Gran had an old foot-operated Singer sewing machine (a treadler) and I spent many enjoyable hours as a child pushing the foot plate up and down and watching the bobbin move accordingly.
Dad had an old Bakelite radio in his shed and I remember being entranced by glowing orange valves I could see through the back of the radio. If you looked carefully enough, you could see the glowing plasma move slightly as it flowed between the electrode plates. I can still recall the feeling of shorting a nine-volt battery across my tongue. Mum fed me books, chemistry sets, and electronic circuit kits where you followed the plan on a piece of paper and patched the circuit together with wires and springs.
The first time I saw a logic gate explained in a book it clicked like nothing else. I fell in love with the slick GUI of MS Access. I built simple RF amplifiers, and studied computer chip design and discrete math. My first computer was a Yamaha CX-5M music computer. I recall reading about some new thing called hypertext in a special issue of the IEEE journal in the uni library. I also remember the first time I used Netscape Navigator to browse 'the internet'.
One of my favourite collaborative exercises. A first pass process map for our 45 year old peer-reviewed journal.
My first real technical document was a spare time at work project that analysed the flow of customer info around the organisation. We recorded the customer's details for every step, from the receipt of an order to dispatch. Sometimes we wrote down customer details 14 times for a single order. We had hand written records for everything. MySpace was a weird new 'Web 2.0 social media' thing that I could not grasp.
Eight years later I was managing a $4 million sector education project for the Department of Family Services. We had over 60,000 subscribers to our email newsletters and over 30,000 followers on Facebook. I had hired and resourced a video team to produce 100+ videos. I had led a years-long project to eliminate paper record-keeping and bring all of our business data under a single SQL Server data warehouse. A breathless consultant (a valuable and trusted friend to our organisation) declared that we had realised "the holy grail" of data integration.
I feel very lucky to have experienced the enormous changes in business computing over the past three decades. I know for sure there are many more wonders coming down the pipe.
Some of the software tools I have used.
Please use this Google Form to contact me and discuss your project. I will respond within 1-2 business days (usually within a few hours, depending on your time zone).