documents were NEVER edited

Subject: documents were NEVER edited
From: "Wilcox, Rose (ZB5646)" <Rose -dot- Wilcox -at- pinnaclewest -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Thu, 14 Feb 2002 10:17:24 -0700


<<

So the documents were NEVER edited can you believe that!! He used them
exactly as they were. The documents had comments all the way through them
of things that needed to be addressed, which never were.

>>

Yes, I can believe that. It happens in my current job all the time.
Recently (here is my war story of the week), a Business Analyst came up to
me and handed me a document, insisting I had written it. I did not
recognize this document even though it used my style sheet. She had edits,
so I told her I would look for the document and make the edits.

It turns out one of the System Quality Assurance (SQA) people had written
it. It was a Test Case document and she used my style sheet to make it look
professional. She wrote it in November, and after 3 months went by without
edits, she purged it from her hard drive. The Business Analyst did *not*
have a soft copy either, so it was expected that I would recreate the
document. This drove me mad, and I spent some time looking for a scanner
(even though I don't think scanning would've saved me much time) and
complaining to management about people not saving documents in the
repository.

After making what I considered an adequate amount of "noise" about it, I bit
the bullet and began typing in the document. During the process, I realized
that the edit was incomprehensible. (For instance, it contained not only
cryptic comments but most of it was merely question marks next to
paragraphs.)

So I prepared a detailed email asking the Business Analyst about each edit.
Since I had the only known copy of the document in existence, I had to give
each question adequate context. This effort wore me out so much that by the
end of my document-creating session I had only gotten to page 9 (of a 40
page document), so I went home to start fresh on the morrow.

The next day I got to work and another woman from the SQA department sent me
an email, with lo and behold, a soft copy of the document in question. So I
made the few edits that I could and sent it along with another shorter
version of the open questions. The first draft of the document that she had
made the cryptic "edits" on included commented blank results on every test
case, and a few test cases with the words "needs info" under the processing
sections, which she had ignored.

This is just one example of what goes around here. I have a handful of
documents that have actually been completed past first or second draft after
contracting here for a year and a half. After the process breaks, I simply
store the latest draft in the repository as the current working copy.
Although I am "full time, on site", this company pays my consulting company
a competitive hourly rate for my services. I get very good feedback here;
they love me and have continued to do whatever they could to keep me on
site, including "time-sharing" me with another department (where I find we
complete documents more often.)

I continue to work with management about this issue, because frankly, I do
not find it satisfying to create only drafts. One of the pleasures I get
from technical writing is having completed a document, knowing it is the
highest quality that I could make it within the time and resources provided.
However, many of my high quality technical writing friends are currently
looking for work, so I am happy to continue to create drafts if that is what
my client wants!

Honestly, if the economy was more perky, I might've left, not for money, but
for job satisfaction. I am hoping working for two departments will increase
my job satisfaction. Until then, "Will tech write for food".

Rose A. Wilcox (the "A" stands for "Amiable")
Project Office / Power Trading
Communication Specialist / Technical Writer
Rose -dot- Wilcox -at- PinnacleWest -dot- com




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