Case studies are sometimes called success stories, and an engineering friend of mine sarcastically calls them “happy stories.” Obviously companies don’t write public accounts of their failures. To me “case study” suggests a more serious, detailed, and technical piece while “success story” suggests something lighter. I think almost anyone can learn to write them, and they are probably the easiest place for crossover tech writers and freelance writers to begin because they are formulaic (as we will see in a later post) and the material in them is often taken from other sources. In this post, I will show you some excellent examples.
Case Study Examples from Microsoft and HP
This morning I arbitrarily chose a subject, namely Unified Communications, and then did a very brief hunt for examples. I chose Microsoft because I have written case studies that borrowed material (with permission) from their pieces, which are very professionally done. I chose HP because I easily found examples of both the very technical and the “success story” type of case study.
Microsoft – All of the Microsoft case studies that I have seen follow this format. I will discuss structure in a separate post, and Microsoft case studies generally follow the “classic” structure.
HP Technical – Highly technical case studies are difficult to do because the customer must be willing to provide a lot of IT staff time and sometimes reveal system details it would rather keep private for security or other reasons. HP solves the problem here by using HP IT as its customer.
HP Classic – This HP case study is closer to the Microsoft case study in format and style. I found quite a few of these “success stories” in my limited canvas of the HP site, and I provide this example as a contrast to the more technically detailed example above.
In general, software and software applications (Microsoft) are easier to write about than hardware/network technology (HP) because software is usually closer to the end user (human being).