Re: A bit of clearing up on final reviews

Subject: Re: A bit of clearing up on final reviews
From: "Lisa Wright" <liwright -at- uswest -dot- net>
To: "Sierra Godfrey" <kittenbreath -at- hotbot -dot- com>, "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Thu, 27 Jul 2000 15:03:24 -0600

Sierra,
Those darn SMEs!

Your review plan and schedule sound good. To manage them saying that they
want to see the print-ready version, I have what may sound like an
off-the-wall suggestion. Instead of trying to finagle them, perhaps you
could simply lay out the reality of the situation, and do it in advance so
they know what to expect. Do it in a manner that informs them, rather than
asking for permission. Any tentativeness on your part will invite
interference on their part.

"Here's the review schedule:

Blah
Blah
Blah

The print-ready version will be ready on XXX. Anyone who is interested may
see a copy. Due to the time requirements of the printing process, changes
cannot be accepted once the print-ready copy has been produced."

If the SMEs didn't "ensure that it is okay" during the review process, then
your manager should address that issue with the SMEs manager(s). The SMEs
won't look very good if, after they were informed of the review process,
they turn around and say, "well, gee, we thought we'd have another chance to
make sure everything was okay."

Writers are not the doormats of software production, nor are we infinitely
flexible. Our production processes have requirements and limitations and our
colleagues must accept those. If you're coming under unreasonable pressures,
you have to educate people on those limitations and requirements. Your boss
(if I remember correctly) will support you on this.

You _have_ to be willing to set boundaries and limits, and you have to make
your colleagues believe that you mean what you say. It's a scary thing to
do, particularly when you have to rely only on yourself to make the
decisions and the rules and set the policies. As long as you have people
encroaching on you, your work, your territory, you will be in unhappy
situations. Everyone else in your office, including the SMEs, have their
limits, and you need yours.

All the standard disclaimers apply: don't be completely rigid or inflexible,
don't be wedded to your procedures, blah, blah, blah.

Oh, and you will, as others have said, surely find a glaring, embarrassing
typo the second you open the final copy. Yes, it's humbling, but guess what?
Your SMEs didn't send out perfect code, either. Tom Clancy's last book had
some really stupid errors in it. The _New York Times_ has typos all the
time. I once sent out a flyer for something to lots of people on the
"Eclispe" project because I forgot to run a spell-check.

Hide for a couple of days while you do your own copy edit after you get the
final, printed copy, and then accept corrections from your colleagues and
whoever else calls them in. Accept them matter-of-factly, have a plan for
the next release, and move on. Programmers don't agonize over the
possibility that they may have included bugs; you don't need to agonize over
a misplaced modifier, spelling error, or bad help-text hyperlink.

Please write more (on- or offline) if you need support in this.

Yours, having just exited the battlefield of setting limits and now
preparing to face the consequences,
Lisa Wright
Technical Writer
PeakEffects





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