RE: Technical Documentation solutions?

Subject: RE: Technical Documentation solutions?
From: Goober <techcommgoober -at- yahoo -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Wed, 28 Aug 2002 11:16:59 -0700 (PDT)


> Dudes! Give me a little credit! Rather than talk
> about how this can't be
> done you seem to be more interested in my motives,
> employer support, focus,
> purpose, will it work, yada yada.

Probably because we're tech writers.

> You'll just have to trust that this team hired me
> for this purpose and they
> are avidly interested in making it work.

Interesting, so it's their idea?

> Will I make it in six months? Who
> the hell cares?

You should.

> I certainly hope not, as a I am
> tired of looking for work.

So falling short of a milestone will get you more work
as a consultant? That's news to me.

> Over the years I have had three separate contracts
> of 3 to 6 months duration
> keep rolling over for as much as four years...I will
> take all of those I can get.

Ouch. I'd rather get in, lay the truth on the table
and say "What you want will take X months/years beyond
the initial 6 months to implement correctly. We can
either move forward with that in mind, or look at
these several alternatives..."

> Yes, human factors are key - all I am trying to do
> is enable these folks to
> do what they want to do - which is to produce cost
> effective modular
> single-sourced dynamic documentation.

Without writers... I see a hole here.

> All this diatribe about what an idiot I am and why
> it won't work is a waste of all our time.

Sorry, but you're the first to call yourself an idiot.
We were providing constructive feedback. If you didn't
want it, or can't handle it, you should think twice
about posting. You must know that by posting to a
forum you are soliciting feedback?

> Let's look instead at how it can be made to work for
> a small tightly
> integrated dedicated team that wants to produce
> their own quality, accurate,
> locatable documentation with the least effort
> required.

Great. Throw out some specifics then. All our
gum-flapping has been surrounding vague project
information. But don't expect us to become your think
tank to make this work for you.

> There are ways to do this. If you choose not to take
> part in this discovery,
> so be it - don't read the thread.

If I take part in this "discovery" (which I read as
"defining my workflow") do I get a cut of the pay?

> If however, you believe that every techwrler has a
> stake in this debate and
> that solutions will be found, stay tuned!

That depends. From what I gather, you're looking to
spider source code for comments, tag them, store them
in a database, and query the db to populate a document
with that content. Even on a small scale, you're
looking at considerable development time.

I guess we're waiting for specifics. Otherwise, I know
I have no idea how you could begin to attack this and
expect any progress within 6 months, at least not
enough to ensure you'll be there longer than 6
months...

I do have to make a general point here, unfortunately
at your expense...

As a contractor or consultant, you are being brought
in to provide a service and produce results in an
agreed-upon timeframe. Taking on a job and counting on
it to be more involved than expected in order to
stretch the contract duration, IMO, is unacceptable.
If your client is unaware that the proposed solution
will take more than the set amount of time to
complete, they need to be made aware of that. If and
when you fall short and they are unprepared for the
surprise, you not only potentially make yourself look
bad, but can and do negatively impact the profession
in their eyes. Contracts are not about the contractor
and milking a paycheck for as long as possible. They
are about filling needs and achieving results in an
agreed-upon timeframe, mainly because the client
either doesn't have the expertise in-house or cannot
afford to allocate internal resources to the task.

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References:
RE: Technical Documentation solutions?: From: Manley Clifford (GFD1CEM)

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