RE: Technical Writers who write functional specifications

Subject: RE: Technical Writers who write functional specifications
From: "Giordano, Connie" <Connie -dot- Giordano -at- FMR -dot- COM>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Tue, 23 Jan 2001 17:11:12 -0500


I don't think it's too obliging! Unless your company has business analysts
who do nothing but write specs, it should be a part of your job (even if you
have BAs, you ought to be involved). Functional specs describe how the
system is supposed to function, and to some degree, why it functions that
way. Good functional specs should include detailed information on how data
flows in the application, and all the navigational tools that the user has
available to make that data flow.

In all the companies I've worked for, technical specs were created by
programmers, while people with knowledge of how users work created
functional specs. Some of this is probably a bit of semantic confusion, I
imagine that some companies probably don't distinguish between technical and
functional specs.

I remember learning that functional specs should be used as the foundation
for user documentation, and technical specs should be used as the foundation
for testing scripts and test plans. Don't remember where I learned that,
but that's the rule of thumb I try to use.


Connie Giordano

-----Original Message-----
From: Bruce Byfield [mailto:bbyfield -at- progeny -dot- com]
Sent: Tuesday, January 23, 2001 5:10 PM
Cc: techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com
Subject: Re: Technical Writers who write functional specifications

Cathy De Rubeis wrote:

> In order for a technical writer to write functional specifications, what
> does she need to know? Is this a sort of promotion or a type of job hybrid
> (tech writer/business analyst)? Or perhaps it depends on the company size
> and/or view of what technical writers do.

Maybe I'm too obliging, but I've generally taken the position that a
technical writer's job is whatever I'm asked to do. Oh, at times
I'll resist a request, or do something while making clear that I'm
not really qualified to do it. But, at the same time, my attitude
has also let me wander down some interesting byways, including into
upper management, so I can't complain.

Anyway, if you're working with the same people regularly -
especially in a startup or small company - you can't really afford
to stand on your dignity or define yourself too narrowly.

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