Integrating Tech Pubs more closely with Engineering

Subject: Integrating Tech Pubs more closely with Engineering
From: "Smith, Martin" <martin -dot- smith -at- encorp -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Tue, 5 Mar 2002 19:30:18 -0700

I've got some issues that I've been wrestling with for some time now as the
manager of a small technical writing department. I am interested in how my
fellow list members might handle the following situation.

Let me start off by mentioning that I have experience with the following
programming languages: Visual Basic, FrameScript, WinBatch, SQL, and C (as
well as an obscure pulse programming language used to control nuclear
magnetic resonance spectrometers). I also work as a consultant and have
developed and sold custom-engineered software applications. In a previous
job I was involved in application development which made it much easier for
me to write the documentation.

In my current position, I am not involved in application development. Nor am
I involved in technical support. This is not due to my willingness to be
involved in these areas. I have been pushing to go on field service trips
and to become involved in application development for the past couple of
years. The response to these overtures has always been a firm, no thank you.

I am very much of the opinion that technical writers should have as much
exposure to application development and technical support as possible. I
know firsthand how much this kind of exposure can improve the documentation.

Nonetheless I am suffering from what I've dubbed the "you're not one of us"
syndrome. The number of C courses that I've taken and the fact that I've
actually sold applications that I've written doesn't matter. People come
down with "you're not one of us syndrome," it seems, based on their position
in the organizational chart.

So my question is, what would you do? What makes a real engineer or a real
programmer seems as dubious to me as the what makes a real technical writer
question that we've debated to death. Does anyone have any suggestions for
breaking down departmental barriers that inhibit the level of cooperation
essential to produce solid technical documentation.


Martin R. Smith
Manager, Technical Writing
Encorp, Inc.

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