RE: Organizational Structure (Was: Plays well with others)

Subject: RE: Organizational Structure (Was: Plays well with others)
From: "Rich, Charles" <crich -at- FSC -dot- Follett -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Fri, 30 Mar 2001 15:02:41 -0600

david -dot- locke -at- amd -dot- com wrote

>What other models are actually used? I've always been in the above
>situation. Even now where I have a client and a departmental manager, I'm
>trapped in a matrix. Given that we are a staff function unless we work for
>technical writing company, I don't see how we escape the matrix. Let me
>how to do that. Thanks.

There are times I just want to run up and kiss my section heads, though I am
fortunately restrained by the fact that they are the same sex, fairly ugly,
and I am not that type of guy. I especially feel this way after reading
TECHWR-L posts. There is another way, and I managed to find a Matrixless
shop mostly by blind luck. Ours is a team shop, where each team consists of
a product line/marketing manager, a developer or two, a tester, a technical
support specialist, and a writer. All team members have to be present at
feature team meetings (at least a couple a week), and we are all clustered
together, so my developers are within throwing distance. Each member is
expected to contribute to the process every step of the way. If even one of
us has a problem with the feature then we stop, clarify, realign if
necessary, and drive on in an agreed upon direction. In many cases, when the
developer is done coding I am finished, or close to finished, with my
documentation. Everything must be done and approved by the team before the
feature is considered complete.

So how do we advance in a system like this? Well, my company will reimburse
me for any related training or college I attend. Within the section, all
qualified employees are welcome to work toward becoming a writer, tester, or
developer if they wish. By taking advantage of the tuition reimbursement,
watching and learning from others on the feature teams, and expressing my
desire to one day become a full developer, I have already started myself
down the path of advancement. Once I have become qualified to be a developer
then I can be evaluated to do just that, possibly with a stint as a tester
somewhere in between. This works well for the company because I am actively
working to improve my skills, and gradually contribute more to their
projects; and well for me because I don't have to wait for someone to decide
to give me a shot at something bigger. Job openings are posted on our
Intranet, employees have first pick of these jobs, and anyone can apply
(given, of course, you can actually fill the need).

Because of the way our teams are structured, the lines between writer,
tester, and developer tend to blur sometimes. During code freeze and the
crunch to get the final product out the door I served primarily as a
regression tester. In my current project I developed the use cases for this
version and will be drafting the overall project requirements, have created
user interfaces, and produced oodles of JavaScript for both front and back
ends. I will also be responsible for the online help. Our tool sets are
always bleeding edge (I need to load RH Office 9 after I finish this post).

This is honestly the first job I have ever had where sometimes I just can't
wait to get to work. Now if you'll excuse me, I have things I'd LIKE to go
do. ;-Þ

Charles T. Rich
Technical Writer
Product Development
Follett Software Company

BTW if you know any developer type who are fishing, our new fiscal year
starts Monday and the company will be looking to add more developers and
possibly an illustrator.


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