RE: New TECHWR-L Poll Question (design specs)

Subject: RE: New TECHWR-L Poll Question (design specs)
From: "Laura A Mac Lemale" <lmaclemale -at- paychex -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Tue, 16 Jan 2001 10:50:07 -0500


In my current position, I'd have to say that the design docs are extremely valuable. I am working on at least two projects for which the system specs are the only available resources, because the UI is not fully formed and I don't have the luxury of alpha/beta access.

Previously, I worked in the software industry. We reviewed the specs for every project, but we also had alpha/beta versions of the software with which to become familiar.

Though I miss having that system access, I've learned to fully appreciate the specs. You learn to dig deeper for information, and you really get a feel for how system components fit together. You do have to wade through a lot of information, but you can use the different versions of the specs to track the system
changes as the project moves forward.

Another benefit: Working independently, you can get much of the background information on your own, ensuring that your meetings with SMEs and other team members are more efficient and productive in the long run.

I am intrigued by John Garison's description of the tech writer's involvement in the spec development at his company. (Since becoming a tech writer two years ago, I've only been involved in projects with existing specs in the development phase.)
And I'm curious if the tech writer's role described by John is standard in other companies...

Laura MacLemale
Technical Writer
lmaclemale -at- paychex -dot- com

Disclaimer: Usual disclaimer applies....

John Garison wrote:
"Here at IDe, all features to our products are designed by cross-functional
teams (which include tech writers). As part of these feature teams, writers
are involved in taking the preliminary product ideas and fleshing them out
into both functional specs as well as detailed design and technical specs..."

DebRay writes:

Given your current projects, how valuable are product
design documents or specifications?

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