RE: SMEs and me (long) + a question

Subject: RE: SMEs and me (long) + a question
From: "Rock, Megan" <Megan -dot- Rock -at- fanucrobotics -dot- com>
To: TECHWR-L <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Thu, 6 Jul 2000 10:48:55 -0400

Melissa writes:

> Where I used to work, we addressed this problem by sending drafts to
> representatives from each department with a vested interest
> in the manual.
> Typically this meant that in addition to the primary
> developer and QA rep,
> the training and tech support departments would have the
> opportunity to
> review at least a penultimate draft.

This might work for us. I think we have a pretty good idea of who the key
people are in the other segments, so we might be able to put together a list
of additional reviewers.

> Sometimes these
> departments did not
> have the time or inclination to do a thorough review, so we
> just made it
> clear that they had until such-and-such date to provide any input they
> wanted to. After that, any changes they wanted would be
> re-prioritized.
> Sometimes we would catch flack for not giving people enough
> time to review
> something, but then they would often still be making UI changes a week
> before release. You can only paddle upstream just so fast. :-)

The people in the segments aren't responsible for development. They
basically work with the customer to determine what the customer wants, and
then they relay that information to our development group (Product
Documentation is a subset of the development group) who start coding new
features or improvements on existing options and features.

I caught flack today for not giving someone enough time to review something.
He told me he ignored my deadline because he didn't think I was being
reasonable. Then he admitted that he probably should have told me he was
ignoring my deadline, because when I didn't hear from him by the deadline, I
assumed he didn't have any changes and went ahead with production.

> Your company sounds bigger than the one I described above.
> Are you organized
> into project teams? Where I am now we are organized into
> smaller, mostly
> independent teams, and it's pretty easy to talk to anyone
> involved in a
> project.

We have around 1200 employees. We're organized very loosely into project
teams, but the development groups work on the same source code since many of
the features and options are available in various configurations with
various tools and on various controller platforms. Each group is dependent
on the other groups, and our manuals are reviewed by people across the
groups. I don't know many of the people in the segments since they sit in
another part of the building and I may only have contact with them on a
project once or twice a year, but that's why we depend on the PM or SME to
coordinate multiple reviews with the appropriate people in the segments.
Usually that works, but every now and then somebody takes a look at the
final draft of a manual and says, "Why wasn't I included in this
documentation project from the beginning?" That's something I can't
control, so I just roll with the punches.

Megan E. Rock
Technical Writer
Product Information
megan -dot- rock -at- fanucrobotics -dot- com

All views expressed are entirely my own and are not necessarily shared
by my friends, co-workers, or employer.

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