Re: terminology question (and a bit of a rant)

Subject: Re: terminology question (and a bit of a rant)
From: Brad Jensen <brad -at- elstore -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Tue, 3 Sep 2002 13:40:25 -0500

----- Original Message -----
From: "Rosemary J Horner" <rhorner -at- quellos -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Sent: Tuesday, September 03, 2002 1:10 PM
Subject: terminology question (and a bit of a rant)

> Hi everybody,
> <rant>
> The first product I wrote help for (6 months ago) has not yet
been released.
> It's an internal product to be used by one department. The
holdup was that
> the IT dept wouldn't release it til that department had written
a business
> process doc that described how it would be used. They're finally
doing it,
> but what they've done is try to write, from scratch, a "manual"
that covers
> all the same material I did in the online help (company policy
is that help
> should only be online, there aren't supposed to be printed
versions of
> anything because that would make it too easy for people to take
> proprietary application information). And of course, I don't
think it's as
> good. Not that mine's perfect--there are definitely some things
I can learn
> from it. As far as I can tell, I'm supposed to review this, then
use it as
> the help. I'm kind of annoyed. The writing style is very
> lots of unnecessary words, lots of passive voice, lots of
bulleted lists
> that are part procedure and part information. It's almost worse
> starting from scratch again myself.
> </rant>
> Right. So what this has prompted me to do is start a style guide
for online
> help. I'm the only writer, and I've had my own standards in my
head, but
> never felt the need to write them down. Now I think it will help
me point
> out what I see are the problems in this new doc, rather than
whining vaguely
> that I don't like it :-)

Hold on thar sport.

What these people did was rewrite your tech doc to fulfill an
internal political requirement.

The thing to do now is let it die.

The IT department has no right to require a business case for the
stuff that is rolled out - whoever let them do that is asleep at
the wheel, or doesn't want to deal with the conflict between

Doers IT department get to decree where to spend advertising
dollars? Which restaurants to eat at? What color lipstick to wear?
The brand of toilet paper to use in the executive washrooms?

They are saying by this, that they don't want to supply the
resources to support this thing. That's nice, whining has been
noted for your next salary review.

Giving the IT department control over what internal applications
are necessary is like telling your children that they get to
decide what everyone gets to eat. I hope you like Crunchberries!
(I do, by the way.)

One step above the IT department, your company has a big problem.
That's the problem that needs fixing, not a style manual that will
make an unneeded and unprofessional doc into a nice imitation of
the doc you already have.

When problems like this one come up, ask yourself what decision is
being avoided while this is messed with. Somebody already
determined a need for this internal application, and spent the
resources to develop and document it. If IT was overruled at that
point, trying this petty pocket veto is an unacceptable tactic.

You may need a new IT manager. Problems like this are generally
attitude problems, and they can be hard to fix. Meanwhile the
company is underperforming, and probably does not realize that
internal weaknesses are causing part of this underperformance.

One manager with a wrong attitude can cost a company millions in
lost opportunities, particularly (it seems to me) in IT.

My consulting fee is $750 an hour, I'd be glad to explain this all
to your big cheese at my going rate.

(That's a joke, I don't really do this sort of consulting- I can't
afford the time.)

What you are trying to do now is like trying to rehang your
pictures during an earthquake, or mop the floor during a flood.

Brad Jensen

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terminology question (and a bit of a rant): From: Rosemary J Horner

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