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HPC Documentation: Bridging the Gap Between Users and Systems

Discover how having clear and concise documentation for your hpc teams can help create efficiencies.

As a member of Rescale’s HPC Support Team with 7 years of experience in technical support with some of the largest IT companies in the world, I have in-depth knowledge of how important the documentation we provide to the end user is. We witness first-hand the power of clear and comprehensive documentation in bridging the gap between Rescale users and our platform.  When detailed and up-to-date documentation is provided to users It gives them the full potential to use our HPC resources and provides a clear path to reaching a solution. 

Types of Documentation:

User Guides – 

These in-depth documents serve as roadmaps providing step-by-step instructions for navigating our platform, utilizing its resources, and accomplishing specific tasks. They act like detailed manuals guiding users through the intricacies of the HPC environment. User Guides

FAQs(Frequently Asked Questions) – 

FAQs anticipate and address common queries, providing users with quick answers. These concise documents act as a first line of defense, resolving issues promptly. We leverage our experience in handling customers’ requests to anticipate questions that are likely to arise again, and preemptively provide answers to those questions.

System-specific documentation

Tailored to individual systems or software applications, these documents delve into the nuances of specific configurations, functionalities, and troubleshooting procedures. They offer users a deeper understanding of the intricacies of the particular system they are interacting with. It aids advanced users in optimizing system performance and troubleshooting complex issues.

Creating Effective Documentation

Crafting documentation that users find both accessible and informative requires a fine balance. Here are some tips to ensure your documentation hits the mark:

Structure and Clarity

Organize information logically, employing clear headings and subheadings. Ensure a seamless flow that guides users through the content effortlessly. In creating KBAs we try to stick to a simple template so all the KBAs will have the same format and be easy to read and follow.

Visual Aids

Incorporate diagrams, screenshots, and videos to enhance understanding. Visual aids provide clarity, especially when explaining intricate system configurations. This is shown on Rescale public documentation for a lot of our most popular software. We have video tutorials to show users the process so they can follow along rather than reading a long document. Some people are visual learners. Video Tutorials 

Eg: Our documentation shows step by step and here is an example of explaining how to create a new job.

Plain Language

Avoid filler and complication whenever possible. Use plain language to make the documentation accessible to users with varying levels of technical expertise. We do not want to complicate the issue further plus we have a lot of users for English may not be their first language.

User Feedback

Be open to user feedback to identify pain points and areas for improvement. Involving users in the documentation process helps create content that resonates with their needs. Noting down suggestions from customers can be a big help because if they are struggling with a particular part of documents, there is a chance more users are also. 

Maintenance and Updates:

HPC documentation is always evolving, requiring ongoing maintenance and updates. Rescale Support plays a vital role in ensuring its accuracy and continued relevance. We regularly review and update the documentation to reflect changes in the system, software, or user needs. Ensure that documentation remains aligned with the latest system configurations, features, and updates.

User Training

While comprehensive documentation empowers users to navigate the system independently, user training remains vital. The Customer Success Team team often spearheads training sessions, providing users with a deeper understanding of the documentation, equipping them with practical skills, and fostering a sense of confidence in utilizing the HPC resources effectively.

Guided Orientation

Mentioned earlier this is where tutorials can be very helpful to guide users through the platform and its uses. Offering guided orientations on navigating documentation ensures users are equipped with the knowledge to independently tackle challenges.

From the support team’s perspective, good documentation goes beyond simply providing information. It serves as a cornerstone for user satisfaction and system adoption. By bridging the gap between users and complex systems, it allows individuals to harness the full potential of HPC resources and drive innovation across diverse fields. Investing in user-friendly, informative, and up-to-date documentation cannot be understated, as it is a strategic investment that fosters a thriving and productive HPC ecosystem.

Author

  • Robert Walsh

    Robert Walsh is a dedicated support engineer at Rescale, where he leverages his expertise to assist customers in optimising their experience with the Rescale platform. With over 7 years of experience in the field, Robert brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise, ensures that users receive timely and effective solutions to their technical inquiries.

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