RE: Role of Technical Writer in IT

Subject: RE: Role of Technical Writer in IT
From: "Lathrop, Sarah" <Sarah-Lathrop -at- forum-financial -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Fri, 6 Sep 2002 09:30:13 -0400


I have done a few projects for the IT department in my company. The director of IT is very organized and has created procedures that he expects to be followed. Since some of the procedures affect others outside of IT, he has asked me to create the following documents:

1. The Technology Services Handbook--this manual is for all company employees. To help new employees, it includes information on logging on to the system, changing a network password, contacting the Help Desk, accessing the network, and using network printers. For all employees, it outlines security procedures for both the office computer and a home computer used for company work. It also has procedures for move requests since IT is involved in moving computers and providing the necessary hardware and software.

2. Change Control Handbook--this manual outlines the change control process for anything that affects our computing resources. The procedures are clear, including what to do in the event of a change that must be made in an emergency situation. The document also gives guidance in determining the level of impact and the priority of the request.

3. Security Document--this manual documents all of the security procedures we have in place, such as network security, building security, phone security, etc. Since we deal with financial data, auditors are always looking for verification that we have procedures in place and follow them.

A disaster recovery document is another one that originated in IT but I didn't work on it. That document outlines what each department will do in the event of a disaster that causes us to have to leave one or more of our buildings (fire, flood, etc). We have a back-up office location about 25 miles from our main offices and that document details the process for quickly moving our operation to that site.

In our case, having written procedures for move requests and change control has resulted in significant time savings because the procedures are enforced. For example, moves are scheduled for specific days of the week and managers have to submit the paperwork well in advance of the move date they want. Since this is enforced, the managers (even though they grumble) know that moves won't happen unless they get the paperwork in. This has eliminated a lot of chaos, since IT can plan for the moves and have staff available to move computers, printers, etc.

IT may be grateful for your help in publishing procedures to the company. (Of course, significant value can only be realized if IT management enforces the procedures, but that is another issue.)


-----Original Message-----
From: Kevin Bell (IT) [mailto:KBELL -at- bordersgroupinc -dot- com]
Sent: Thursday, September 05, 2002 4:39 PM
Subject: Role of Technical Writer in IT

I am currently the lone writer in the IT division of a book/entertainment retail organization. We are reassessing the role of a technical writer in IT. IT does not utilize or request use of my services for reasons not known to us. We can guess they think I am busy working on other projects or just do not understand how they can take advantage of my services. Reassessment of my role involves determining how my manager can market and sell my skills to IT. We hope to do this as well as explore other career path options in the company.

I was given the task of researching this topic and finding out how other organizations external to my company are approaching this issue. I'd also like to find out what role other writers fill in their companies and the development process. Defining what those roles are would also help.

Our HR department does not have a good description for an IT technical writer. I'm trying to help my manager come up with tasks and roles the technical writer can do.

I'm opening this for discussion.



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