RE: Starting from scratch

Subject: RE: Starting from scratch
From: Suzette Seveny <sseveny -at- petvalu -dot- com>
To: TECHWR-L <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Fri, 7 Jan 2000 10:38:02 -0500

I can tell you what we did here - because I was in exactly the same position
when I started. As the first techwriter in this company, I was given the task
of developing the process and the standards. Here's what I established:

I initiated a Documentation Team, to help solidify decisions. This team was
comprised of the VP - ITS, the Director of Software Development, a User
Representative, a Systems Analyst, and a Senior Developer (along with myself).
Each decision I made was reviewed by this team and approved.

I developed a process for developing documentation that began with the Business
Requirements doc. This enabled us to deliver the documentation almost
simultaneously with the software. Every step of the documentation process
closely mirrors the software development process - reviews, testing, release,

We debated online vs printed and made the decision to go with online
documentation in PDF format. From there, the decision was made to use
FrameMaker to develop the documentation.

Then we developed our standards - a style for our documentation, legal caveats,
fonts, layout, reading levels, and all that kind of stuff.

As well, because they were being so accommodating, I also specified that I
required internet access, a private office, a faster computer, etc. They never
questioned - they just approved. Of course, it took a little longer to
convince them the 19 inch monitor was a necessity, but eventually they came
around to my way of thinking - if only to shut me up! :)

Hope some of that helps, I am actually writing this in a hurry!

Suzette Seveny
Markham, Ontario, Canada
sseveny -at- petvalu -dot- com or suzette -at- yesic -dot- com
Any opinions expressed are MY opinions.
Feel free to have your own.
Let's agree to disagree
But Please - Don't Flame Me.

Of the two basic certainties, death and taxes, death is preferable.
At least you're not called in six months later for an audit.

On Thursday, January 06, 2000 7:18 PM, mikala morgan [SMTP:dolphina -at- visto -dot- com]
> I have accepted a job with a company that is rebuilding its IT division. They
> have never had a tech writer and don't have a stick of
> documentation....nothing.
> I have plenty of ideas, but would like to know what some of you would do to
> your documentation departments if you could start with a clean slate and a
> (within reason) blank check.

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