Re: multiple TWs for a project

Subject: Re: multiple TWs for a project
From: "Karen Carruthers" <kcarruthers -at- exactis -dot- com>
To: <TECHWR-L -at- LISTS -dot- RAYCOMM -dot- COM>
Date: Mon, 14 Feb 2000 09:32:18 -0700

We were in a very similar situation at one of the companies I worked for.
All of us had experience working for specific teams and producing
documentation specific to "our" products. Then the company pulled all of us
to work together on a huge project. It went surprisingly well considering
the four of us were VERY different in our approach to technical writing and
work in general. We hit some bumps in the road, but worked through them. To
make your road smoother I would suggest four things that helped us. (All can
be generalized to any team)

1. Establish your style guide early and as a team. You should have agreement
on the standards for your document and everyone needs to have a voice in
establishing them. Agree that deviations from the agreed upon style will be

2. Meet regularly to discuss issues and status.

3. Divide the work fairly and if possible according to each person's
strengths. If a person is better at the more technical side of the product,
have them work with development to create the technical documentation,
configuration guides etc. On the other hand, if a person's strength is
education have them focus on the training documentation. (This is not to say
that training documentation is not technical...don't start that thread.)

4. Keep in mind that team members may work differently. Some people are
morning people, some are not. Scheduling team meetings at 7:00 a.m. may suit
some, may make others homicidal. Also, some people write very quickly, some
don't. It may be realistic for one person to complete six chapters to
another person's two. The regular meetings can determine progress and
redistribution of work if necessary to keep the project on schedule. (Of
course if one person is consistently doing 90 % of the work you'll have
problems too. But we aren't going to go there or the "team player" thread
will start again.)

Hope this helps.

<<It's hard for me to see that teams can create documentation with any real

Because we've always worked on separate projects, consistency was only
important within a document, not between documents. But, we're heading into
a huge beast of a project that we'll have to work on as a team. It should
very interesting to see how well we do. Right now, we're trying to work up
style guide specifically for this project. That should help us keep some
semblance of consistency throughout our work.


Karen Carruthers
Senior Technical Writer, Infobeat
phone: 303-942-4709

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