Goofy consultants...?

Subject: Goofy consultants...?
From: "Hart, Geoff" <Geoff-H -at- MTL -dot- FERIC -dot- CA>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Fri, 6 Sep 2002 11:20:20 -0400

Leonard Marks is <<... working on a massive project at an insurance company.
There are several different contracting companies involved, and I landed on
the documentation project. I'm currently being "overseen" by a contractor
from a competing company who doesn't seem to know what she's doing... She
doesn't know much about tech writing, writing user manuals or instructional
materials, etc.>>

Sympathies. One piece of advice: Make sure you cover your hiney with the
client so that her failures don't reflect badly on you. Since the odds are
excellent you'll be working directly with the client to obtain information
and get reviews and signoffs, this shouldn't be too much of a stretch.

<<I can see the situation really degrading fast into my stuff with her name
on it... how do I do my job (write user documentation) without losing credit
for the work?>>

Make sure the client knows what you're doing (see above). Other than that,
if you're like most of us, you won't be getting your name on the cover of
the manual, why worry about credit? In terms of office politics, if the
client recognizes your good work, that's all that matters.

<<How much should I involve her in the process? I don't have time (nor the
inclination) to do my job AND to train her too. If she doesn't know
this stuff, is that my problem?>>

If she doesn't know what she's doing, all her mistakes could quickly become
your problems. So keep her involved for two reasons: First, this is your
only way to learn what surprises she's going to spring upon you and gain
time to respond appropriately. Second, provide her with solutions (process
etc.) related to your part of the project (documentation) so she can adopt
these solutions without much work; adopting prepackaged solutions that work
is far easier than developing them on your own, and doubly so if you don't
know what you're doing. Better still, this makes you her ally rather than
someone she'll be fighting throughout the project, and if those solutions
conveniently make your life easier at the same time, you both win.

--Geoff Hart, geoff-h -at- mtl -dot- feric -dot- ca
Forest Engineering Research Institute of Canada
580 boul. St-Jean
Pointe-Claire, Que., H9R 3J9 Canada

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