Re: Like long hours?

Subject: Re: Like long hours?
From: Kevin McLauchlan <kmclauchlan -at- chrysalis-its -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Tue, 6 Aug 2002 14:12:33 -0400

We recently took a 10% across-the-board salary cut
(three months after our execs did the same thing), so
there's no way I'm getting any underlings.

Usually, I don't need any help. The workload is light
and/or manageable, until a major product release,
at which time there's a week-or-four of long hours. Then, it
eases off for a few months.

This last time, there were so many last-minute (and even
post-last-minute) changes that I found myself pulling a
bunch of all-nighters to get the document set ready for
our major new product release.

I could see my performance deteriorating, and it was
obvious that I was well past the point of diminishing
returns in the game of "just work extra hours". Even
worse, were signs that my health was suffering (I'm
a little over a year away from the big 50, and I don't
bounce back from 40-hour days the way I could as
a college kid).

I took my immediate boss aside and laid out the
situation. If something doesn't give, then I'll be down
with the flu or worse (blood pressure well into the
high danger range), and I won't even be in any
condition to hand off to a temp. The project is at
risk. And did I mention that I'm the only FrameMaker
user in the place?

We decided that there were two options:

1) Draw a line in the sand and just declare that any
more changes to the doc-set would have to wait
until the next release.

2) Have me keep pounding at the core docs, and
hand off some lighter ones to somebody else.

The problem with the first approach was that the
interface and other aspects of the product were
being changed as I and Product Verification and
Customer Support were finally getting systems
to work with, so the docs could literally look like
they were written for a different product unless
they were revised. And, our lead customers had
made a point of demanding accurate, usable docs.

The problem with the second approach was that I'm
the only writer, and all the other technical folk
(developers, testers, etc.) were in frantic high-gear
on their own parts of the project. Though some were
capable of decent writing, none could spare the time.

Hmm. Not good.

So, we went to Product Line Management and laid
out the problem (they, by the way, were part of
the problem...:-).

However, it turns out that they were also part of the
solution. A marketing guy who had recently wrapped
up another project was just about to spend some
time learning the new product. He volunteered to
take on some quick-start guides (that I had been
leaving until last). My role became that of editor
for him. He also conveyed some of his impressions
and difficulties as a new/naive user, to me, so
that my own big docs benefitted.

As well, by virtue of their increased involvement in
the technical and tech-docs end of the project, the
PLM folks saw fit to "find" me an additional day, with
some creative revision of the schedule.

We did it, and I lived.

Customers are so impressed with the product, so
far, that we can already see the end of the pay cut
moving closer.

Maybe this kind of co-operative spirit and effort
would be less likely at a larger company -- we're
fewer than 80 people.

My two cents...... minus ten percent...


** DIR-ty DEEDS, and they're DONE dirt cheap. (Sing it,

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RE: Like long hours?: From: Sean Brierley

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