RE: The Wave of a TW's Future: (was RE: Tools & Technologies)

Subject: RE: The Wave of a TW's Future: (was RE: Tools & Technologies)
From: "Roy, Gary" <RoyG -at- hydroaire -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Tue, 30 Oct 2001 11:29:47 -0800

-----Original Message-----
From: Marguerite Krupp [mailto:mkrupp -at- cisco -dot- com]

<snip>Will XML lead us in 20 to 25 years, or will we TWs lead XML?
Again, Steven's comment about focusing only on content just caught my eye.
Thoughts?<snip>

As a profession, I do not think that we are on the verge of extinction. Over
the years, I have seen a change in the profile of a Technical Writer. There
was a time when a Tech. Writer understood (in depth) one or more of the
fundemental disciplines: Electronics, Hydraulics/Mechanical, Digital
Circuits, or Chemistry. A writing tool was a tool, that's all. Today's arena
seems to focus on the tool.

When one hires a plumber, does one care that he/she is using Crescent wrench
version 5.0, or that he/she has the skills to perform/explain the task at
hand? Does one care that a doctor uses an EKG controller version 2.0, or
that he/she can diagnose and correct the heart condition. I think we care
that the professional adds value to the project.
For example, if I can obtain the instructions on how to use an automotive
GPS written on a handkerchief, the instructions are clear and concise, and I
arrive safely at my destination the Technical Writer that wrote the
procedure/description has met the objective.

The more that the documentation group's capital requirements involve
epicurean solutions and short lifecycle tools, the more venture capitalists
will look at other alternatives to reduce/eliminate documentation costs and
devalue documentation. When documentation groups are eliminated, ask
yourself if the documentation added any value to the product. Did the
document reduce the lifecycle cost of the product, which the customer is
willing to fund in order to mitigate operational expenses? Did the
documentation reduce manufacturing costs (Standards ... Compliance ... Bah,
Humbug!!)? Did the documentation give the product a competitive advantage?
If you answer NO to these questions, be prepared for a long wait at the soup
kitchen.

In the economy of present (an probably the same hold true for the future),
corporate goodwill has taken a backseat to quarterly ROI. When one takes a
Technical Writing job, it's not a free lunch - eventually the function will
be phased out if there is no business case for continued document
development. If you can squeeze lead your hands and turn it into gold, the
Technical Writer will always survive (in other words put on your Marcomm hat
and turn losses into profits). Without giving away all of my secrets ;-D ,
creating a documentation demand "pull" (customer demands documents (based on
THEIR needs), rather than company pushing documents to market), can be a
catalyst for survival. Personally, I have never been layed-off from an
organization (11 years in the industry). Maybe it's pure luck, or maybe it's
adopting NPV 'ology' to my documentation projects.


Gary Roy
Crane Aerospace
3000 Winona Avenue
Burbank, California
USA 91510

Tel.: 818.526.2600 ext. 3253
Fax: 818.842.6117
URL: www.craneaerospace.com

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