RE: Preliminary results - Survey of writers in small and startup software companies

Subject: RE: Preliminary results - Survey of writers in small and startup software companies
From: "Michael Collier" <mcollier -at- arlut -dot- utexas -dot- edu>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Thu, 13 Jan 2000 14:08:13 -0600

Andrew Plato wrote:

> This survey is fundamentally flawed because it only asked the
> opinions of other
> tech writers. OF COURSE writers are going to think their role in a small
> company is important.

But if the tech writer IS in a small company, obviously somebody BESIDES the
tech writer feels the role is important, or at least important enough to
spend money on them.

It would be also be interesting to see research that states that x number
of techwriters are working in small companies, or x % of small companies
have a tech writing presence.

>However, most
> business executives
> do not consider tech comm important. I have a client who will pay
> me outlandish
> recruiting fees for a 19 year old UNIX admin, but won't pay a cent for a
> skilled tech writer.

Define "most" and define "important". 19 year old unix admins may be more
difficult to recruit than tech writers, so your client may not bother you to
recruit a tech writer for them. But if you had some data on % of smaller
companies that use tech writers and how they are used, you might be able to
convince a smaller or start-up client company to include TWs in their
staffing plans. You might want to ask that Unix admin client, who certainly
seems to know it's important to his/her business to have a Unix admin on
board, how they intend to document the processes or procedures the admin
uses or develops.

> Therefore the problem (in my opinion) is not "how misunderstood
> we are" but

It's not clear that the intent of the survey was to address the above. In
fact the author probably should state the purpose of his survey.

> but rather, "how do we integrate tech comm with a company in such a
> way that our
> contributions do have an impact and demonstrate to executives how
> good tech
> comm can benefit an organization."

That's a good question, but how are you going to answer it without involving
tech writers, which may skew the results in favor of the tech writer bias
you are trying to avoid? I think if you surveyed only "executives,
engineers, venture
capitalists, support staff, and sales and marketing staff" you'd get a lot
of blank survey forms in response, which may itself say something, but not
necessarily about the role of tech writers.

As they like to say in academia, "further research is needed."
...........................................................................
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Michael Collier Phone: 512-835-3408
Information Systems Laboratory FAX: 512-490-4254
ARL Office: AX207
University of Texas at Austin email: mcollier -at- arlut -dot- utexas -dot- edu
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>





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