Advice for a novice, please

Subject: Advice for a novice, please
From: WFoster -at- friedmancorp -dot- com
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Fri, 27 Oct 2000 14:42:14 -0500

Hello all,

A few days ago I found out that the installation instructions for one of our
smaller products was inaccurate. I only found this out because our IT
manager and I occasionally go out for a smoke, and when I walked into his
office he was talking to a customer who wanted to know where the CD was for
this product. It is no longer on a CD. The instructions had not been updated
when the product had changed. Now, this product doesn't technically belong
to me and the changes to the product were made before I worked here (it's
not a big seller), but whatever, the instructions are wrong, so let's fix
it. I spent the day running after SMEs trying to get information. Everyone
seemed to want to throw up their hands and walk away from the problem, or
even deny there's a problem. One guy even went so far as to tell me that if
he told me how to do install the product, it would take hours and he didn't
want to take the time.

What I ended up gathering were some bare bones installation instructions. I
put them together best I could and sent it out for approval. So far, so
good. I had to make a small (one word) change and then I had final approval.
Yippee, I'm done. Or so I thought. Yesterday, I was informed that the
instructions were still incomplete. (Yes, I realize that speaks to my skills
as a tech writer. I am working on improving those skills.)

It seems that many of the smaller products have one sheet instructions that
were made whenever by whoever, up kept however, and approved by no one.
Besides that and the other obvious problems: what does final mean, why is IT
dealing with customers, my skill set, etc; I was surprised at the response I
got from the SMEs. They didn't seem to want to share information with me. In
our tech writing department, we are each responsible for a specific topics
and my normal SMEs have never acted this way. This is my first tech writing
job and I'm feeling a bit overwhelmed by the mass of problems became
apparent out of this. Any advise on any part of all this gooblygook would be
greatly appreciated.


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