RE: TWs and their work tools!

Subject: RE: TWs and their work tools!
From: "Carnall, Jane" <Jane -dot- Carnall -at- compaq -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Mon, 5 Feb 2001 13:58:50 -0000

Steven J. Owens wrote:
> The trick is to make the cost of these problems visible to them.
>If you have any standard steps or situations that recur frequently, do
>some basic analysis and record-keeping, particularly if it's things
>like doing a file format conversion or anything where you point and
>click and fire it off and don't touch it until it's done.

I agree 110% (10% extra for depreciation...) One time I was working on a new
product that was very memory-hungry and tended to crash a lot if you tried
to run it on PCs that were below the minimum standard required. I was the
technical writer first assigned to the product, when I joined the company,
and I'd got a PC that was up to the job. Gradually, more and more technical
writers were being assigned to document the product, but because they'd come
in under a different budget, they were expected to get by on
less-than-optimum setups.

I got everyone on that documentation team to make notes - every time their
PC crashed, how much time they lost, what they were doing/trying to do when
the PC went down. Then at the next meeting on project delays I suggested
that one reason for the slippage was the hardware problems - that six
writers each losing up to an hour every working day was a full work week
being lost every calendar week. They agreed to have a "hardware problems
meeting", and the best moment (for me) was when a senior manager on another
team, faced with this problem for the first time, exploded "Why are we even
discussing this! Buying six new computers would cost less than the time
that's been wasted already!"

It would have been unprofessional to go "Yay!" at that point, so I didn't.

Jane Carnall
Technical Writer, Compaq, UK
Unless stated otherwise, these opinions are mine, and mine alone.

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