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: Damien Braniff <dbraniff -at- iss-dsp -dot- com>
To: TECHWR-L <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Fri, 14 Jan 2000 09:49:57 +0000

I've not had a proper look at the results yet but Andrew raises some
vaild points. A couple of years ago I did a small survey of local
(mostly small and mainly software) companies to find out how they did
their documentation - did they use a TW? what tools etc. Questions
addressed to Development Manager/Director level. Two questions I asked
were:

If you don't use a TW, do you think the quality would improve if you
did? In every case where this where this was applicable the answer was
a resounding yes but with reservations as to whether or not upper
management would fork out the cash to improve the docs.

How important do you rate the documentation (1-9) as part of the overall
product? Most rated the docs in the range 6/7 with one or two 9s.
However, what was revealing was that quite a few rated it only 3/4 and a
couple were right down at 1 with the comment "product is self
explanatory and we only provide docs because the contract says we have
to"

I also asked WHY they thought the docs were important and the answers
ranged from "cutting support calls", "good selling point" ... right up
to "it looked good".

This feedback implied to me that while there were some companies out
there who really say the importance of good documentation as being an
integral part of the product there were those who saw it as a nuisance,
best cobbled together by engineers and typed up by the secretary when
there was some free time.

I feel that in a "good" company the TW can have a VERY important role
with input not only to the docs but things like GUI design etc.

However, there are others where I feel the TW role is of minimal
importance if it exists at all. I would hope this will change over time
but I fear it will be a slow process.

Damien Braniff
--

Integrated Silicon Systems Ltd. Tel: +44 28 90 50 4000
50 Malone Road Fax: +44 28 90 50 4001
Belfast BT9 5BS Web: www.iss-dsp.com






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