RE: Setting up a Tech Comm Department

Subject: RE: Setting up a Tech Comm Department
From: "walden miller" <wmiller -at- vidiom -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Mon, 1 Jul 2002 10:32:01 -0600

Someone mentioned management buy in. I agree whole heartedly. But before
you talk to management, develop a plan based on your immediate needs and
your growth needs.

1. Recruiting the right people

I would recommend hiring a senior level writer first. The idea is to
balance rookies with experience. You have to have experience first (or you
will spend all your time training--and little will get done). A senior
writer can take up the slack while you train a rookie/relatively
inexperienced writer.

As part of the plan, consider skill sets first and which skill sets are
easiest to train and which are bought with experience. This will lead you
to the first hire and the first trainee.

Hire people you get along with. In a fledgling department, you need
absolute control AND total buy-in from your new writers AND you have to get
along with everyone. SO, if you never need to exercise the control because
you get along and have buy in...

2. Infrastructure setup
Forget organizational infrastructure for now. But plan for it in the future.
Initially, everyone does everything.
For Tools and hardware, concentrate on what is absolutely necessary: fonts,
printers, adobe tools, microsoft tools, etc. Make sure everything is legal
to begin with. It is very easy to let people bring in their tools (which
may or may not be legal).

Start with laptops and external monitors. make the argument that writers
must be mobile. (they can take laptops to engineering cubes, take them
home, etc.). Make sure you get large enough monitors that the writers are
happy (17"+)

3. Budget planning
You get handed a budget the first time. Your plan may help persuade the
powers that be that you need more money for starting up the department
(people + set-up/person + one time department set-up). Don't worry about it
yet. The second year will be more gruelling. The third year is the pits,
but hopefully by then you have the experience to work with accountants and
VPs that actually control what you spend ;-)

good luck

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Setting up a Tech Comm Department: From: Madhavan M

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