Documentation is the oft neglected child of software development. As humans we are impatient to get answers without sifting through hundreds of pages of instructions. We’re always seeking shortcuts around documentation. A recent study from TechSmith says that 70% of people prefer to use a company’s website for help rather than calling or emailing the Helpdesk. Another award-winning paper reveals that only 25% of the time people read instructions and reports that “most people skip ahead and go straight to using an application or product without reading the manual.”
The fact is good (or even great) documentation goes a long way to ensure customers know that the developer cares about them and wants to create a truly great experience of their software.
The one person at Synergis who takes writing great documentation to heart is Cathy Moeller. In her newly created role as User Engagement Specialist, Cathy’s mission is to create easy to read and comprehensive documentation and help deliver a product that delights everyone. in fact, Cathy is passionate about creating software and documentation that is intuitive and easy to understand
“My day-to-day responsibilities are all about helping to improve the Adept user experience, which includes improving software and documentation, developing new training materials, and delivering stellar training classes to our customers,” explains Cathy.
“I also perform tasks to ensure the user interface is intuitive and easy to use. Then there’s time for interfacing with customers. For instance, I just wrapped up a project with customers who participated in the FALL ‘22 pre-release program. These volunteers tested the new software and viewer before release. We all met on a regular basis to discuss their ideas and suggestions about the new viewer. One suggestion was create an Adept Viewer Quick Start for the Viewer. And I was able to complete it in time for the release.”
Cathy thinks, breathes, and works to ensure that Adept is a great experience for users and ensures they can get their work done without impediment.
“Our users can’t be held up trying to figure out how to do something with our software,” says Cathy. “Everything needs to be at their fingertips, so they have resources to know what to do and how to do it without having to call us. ”
“I don’t want people to be scratching their heads and wasting time because they have to get their job done. What’s really important to me is how good the product is and knowing that customers are satisfied and can get their work done more efficiently..”
According to Cathy, Adept’s documentation is close to “a few thousand pages” and covers every aspect of the product – from user and admin manuals to QuickStart and upgrade guides and training material. Cathy literally has her hands on every page of documentation about Adept.
While her work is mostly behind the scenes, the quality of the Adept documentation doesn’t go unnoticed by customers.
“Adept’s documentation is the gold standard. It’s better than any other application I use,” remarks Randy Yuck, IT Director of Operations at Precision Communications Solutions.
Her co-workers are also raving fans of Cathy’s work.
“Cathy’s advocation for customers, precise documentation, and advocacy for customer experience with our products is her superpower,” says Steve Ackerman, quality assurance manager at Synergis. “Taking those attributes and her role very seriously is a testament to her integrity.”
Says colleague, Matthew Waychoff, Product Manager, “Cathy is a real joy to work with. She has a wonderful ability to perfectly balance being relentless and patient in knocking on doors to gather important information for creating and improving our documentation, but she does so in just such a pleasant manner that we are very fortunate to have her helping us all with technical writing & customer experiences.”
Cathy Moeller, Road Warrior
While Cathy’s is currently working to improve and update all the Adept product documentation, she started at Synergis in 2018 as an Applications Consultant (AC). In her role as an AC, she worked in the field with customers on installations, upgrades, and training. The AC team performs remote or on-site installations of Adept, whether it’s a new installation or an upgrade. They also configure the system; perform the admin and user training; and make sure Adept is working smoothly before handing the project over to Helpdesk. On the job, an AC requires as much empathy as intellect.
“While I hate to see someone struggling with using software, there are times when you have difficult people in a classroom, who want to do things their way or in a manner that just isn’t possible. So, it’s important to be able to deal with different personalities, too.”
Says colleague, Glenda Betit, “Cathy’s superpower is PATIENCE! She is very patient and meticulous whether it’s working with a customer, or an internal group to document information about a release or provide training to internal teams.”
Another blade on every AC’s Swiss army knife is collaborating with multiple internal teams at Synergis. “There's a lot of interaction that's going on among the different departments, which is fun because I like working with all different people. Most of all I love being able to make a difference that improves the product.”
As an AC, Cathy also worked with the Synergis Quality Assurance (QA) group to test new releases before releasing them to customers. It was also a great way to familiarize herself with new features before arriving onsite.
“When we found any bugs, we’d report them back to QA,” recalls Cathy. “When the bugs were fixed by developers, we’d need to confirm that the program was in fact fixed and working.”
Cathy loved the trouble shooting sessions for customers. If she couldn’t fix a problem, she’d serve as liaison with Helpdesk or Development to make sure the case was closed.
“When you're in the field with customers, you also hear about the flaws in the software and requests for enhancements,” says Cathy. “We report those ‘wish lists’ to development or product managers. I call it the ‘back to the ranch’ process--bringing the good questions and concerns back in development or QA or product management for consideration. I love just being that conduit between the customer and our company, our product.”
Adding Value to Every Facet of Adept
Cathy considers her greatest contribution to Synergis as her ability to increase the value of every facet of Adept.
“There's so many different aspects to the product. It's not just the product that you sit in front of -- picking and clicking. I like to be involved in all of those things that make up the product as a whole.”
“When somebody finds a problem, or they can't figure out how do I do something, I want them to have resources like our documentation, or a video so they can be self-sufficient.”
Flexibility is another feather in Cathy’s value-added hat. Recently, she was asked to train a development partner in India, which meant starting her day at 4:30am EST for the week.
“I like to interface with customers because that's what I feel I'm really good at. I’m able to communicate really well with customer, understand what their questions or issues are and get answers—doing what it takes to help them understand and use the product .”
A Rich and Full Life and Career
Cathy’s background in technology is as impressive as it is far reaching across multiple industries. She worked in the semi-conductor industry for 20+ years for companies including Bell Labs, AT&T Microelectronics, Lucent Technologies, Agere Systems, Mesh Semiconductor, and Lattice Semiconductor.
“A big part of my job was working in cellular technology,” she recalls. "Digital Signal Processor (DSPs) for cell phones, base stations, Voice over IP, and more. And I loved it.”
“I started off doing customer support, documentation, and training for our internal CAD/CAE software at Bell Laboratories in 1983 and worked my way up to an Application Consultant, Software Tools Marketing Manager, and then a Field Application Engineer working within the sales organization. As a field engineer, I performed pre-sales activities and post-sales support for the software and hardware products (chips and demo boards) for our integrated circuit products. I also worked with functional simulation, co-simulation, and emulation products, where a customer could test application code on our chip on a development board to make sure it would operate as expected before they built their final product.”
In her work with Account Managers who sold integrated circuits to companies around the world, she did many product demonstrations at technology conferences and even earned the “Super Achiever” award.
“I love innovation,” chimes Cathy. “I worked closely with customers while they were designing and testing their products to make sure understood how to use our product and if issues arose, I had to debug the issue and bring it back to our engineers -
During the big technology crash of 2000, the technology industry in the Lehigh Valley was winding down, and Cathy was laid off from Agere.
For a short stint to make ends meet, Cathy worked at a winery in NJ and was a Realtor before she found work at semiconductor startup. She landed a more permanent position at Lattice Semiconductor, the developers of sophisticated field programmable gate arrays (FPGAs) used products in the automotive, communication, defense, industrial and space. After seven years, Lattice closed the Allentown office and moved offices to their headquarters on the West Coast.
As it became tougher to find semiconductor work in the Lehigh Valley, Cathy and her longtime partner Kris, decided to move to Boston where opportunities in technology and innovation abounded.
Cathy’s first position was at Courion, where she worked as a Solutions Consultant for Identity Access Management-- a big change from semiconductors. It wasn’t until her next two jobs, first at Trillium Software (now Precisely) where she did Customer support and training for Data Quality and Data Governance software and then Accellion where she got immersed into a Customer Success role for secure data/file transfer software – that she found her passion for working closely with customers and product innovation. Her experience laid the foundation for her future work at Synergis.
In 2018, when the position for “Applications Consultant” opened up at Synergis Software, her son John, who worked in a similar role for Synergis Engineering Design Solutions, encouraged his Mother to apply because, “it was a great company to work for and a career she’d enjoy.” Cathy applied and was hired as part of the AC team. Then in 2021, when the new position of User Engagement Specialist in Software development was announced, she interviewed and was hired for it “on the spot.” Finally, she found a career where she could apply her passion for people and for the Adept product.
“It's the product and customer experience where I'm really focused. I love that interaction. I enjoy working on what it takes to make a product better and customers happier.”
Given Cathy’s commitment to delivering high value to customers, it’s not surprising that her favorite Synergis family value is “serve and support beyond expectation”.
As much as Cathy is devoted to her work at Synergis, she knows how important it is to enjoy life. “If there’s something you want to try, it’s important to try it,” states Cathy. In her own life, she stays curious and open – whether it’s learning something new in technology, traveling, kayaking, or playing ice hockey. .
Cathy’s been an avid ice hockey player ever since her daughter urged her to learn the sport 30 years ago. She plays all positions--including goalie for two women’s teams—Wicked and Cold Fusion. She also plays on men’s teams with her partner, Kris.
In 2019, Cathy was recognized by USA Hockey as “Adult Player of the Year” for her contributions to supporting and expanding opportunities for girls and women to play hockey. Cathy is devoted to Hockey Fights MS, a fundraiser her daughter established in 2005 after she was diagnosed with MS in her early 20’s. Its mission is to raise money for research into the cause, a cure, the treatment of Multiple Sclerosis, and to help improve the lives of those living with MS by supporting local rehab centers. The fundraiser sponsors multi-day hockey tournaments in six states in the Northeast and Canada.
Cathy was born and raised in Walnutport, Pennsylvania. She later moved to Raubsville, PA and now lives in Alton Bay, NH with her partner Kris and two dogs: Jax, a Blue Heeler; and Cooper, an Australian Cattle dog. She has two daughters, Angela and Candice, and son, John. Cathy also has five grandchildren – Amelia, Parker, Piper, Pia, and Shiloh.
Cathy is proud of what she’s accomplished in her career. “I have really learned and experienced a lot in my life. And I have met so many people and been places around the world—Canada, Belgium, UK, Germany, France, the Netherlands, and Singapore-- I may never have gone there if not for the work I did.”
Her manager, Todd Cummings, Vice President of Research and Development at Synergis is fast to state just how indispensable Cathy is to the development team.
“Cathy’s extensive background in software coupled with her passion for working with people make her an invaluable fit as our User Engagement Specialist,” remarks Todd Cummings, vice president of research and development. “Her natural inquisitiveness and intrinsic drive to understand a problem, results in her finding solutions that work well for people, whether it's while training users, working through user experiences, or documenting how features work. She's an invaluable colleague and a delight to work with.”
The next time you pick up a user manual or search for an answer in online Help, you can thank Cathy for her huge contribution to making Adept easier to use and understand. And, if you’d like to send Cathy a note on her many accomplishments, leave a comment below or direct message her at email@example.com.