RE: Why'd that take so long?

Subject: RE: Why'd that take so long?
From: "Kight, Cindy K." <Cindy -dot- Kight -at- Gilbarco -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Wed, 24 Jul 2002 13:42:49 -0700

Trying again....
Hi Martin,

My main suggestion is to get down to specifics with them and then negotiate

Here are some ideas:

"I can write a word document in an hour. What's taking so long?" - Do the
math. If they can write a 4-page document in an hour, then your 800 page
document is going to take 200 hours, or 5 weeks. This may not have occurred
to them. Small thing, but they may need a little reality check.

Explain the details of what you're up against and why you're the right
person to fix this wretched mess. For example, lay out the exact technical
errors your predecessors made that required you to reformat everything and
added time to your single-sourcing project. Also include how it should've
been done in the first place to avoid this. Let them know that you're
fixing existing problems and that what you're currently doing has long term
benefits - meaning that future projects will take much less time. (This
will also help position you as the person who's fixing the mess, rather than
the person who created the problem in the first place.)

Take the time to explain 'Tech Writing 101'. Focus your discussion on the
customer, on the company, and on doing a quality job. No one wants to hear
why things can't be done - they want solutions.

Negotiate. Find out what they want most and arrange to deliver it to them.
If they want something faster, explain what they won't get. ("I can do this
by August 1st, but the format won't change. Long-term, I'd like to have
uniform formatting because it presents a consistent company image. Also,
there are technical problems with the document that must be corrected before
we can do the conversion to online help. You can't see them when you look
at the page, but the help won't compile because of 'technical reason'.
Fixing these will take another two weeks.")

Present a long-term plan.

I had a similar situation once. My communication to the management was, in
short: "We have a mess here, guys. In fact, it's worse than you think
because of blah, blah, blah. Here's the first step to fix it." Several
months later: "OK. We've handled the basics. Here's the next step."

You have to make these people see you as a resource, not as an obstacle.

Cindy Kight
Technical Communications Manager
RMS Group - Gilbarco, Inc.
Glendale, CA

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