RE: taking too long

Subject: RE: taking too long
From: "William Turner" <whturner -at- earthlink -dot- net>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Wed, 9 Oct 2002 15:49:10 -0700


Thanks for your comments on participation and ownership.

I recently worked as a techwriter in an Information Development (ID) group
at IBM. IBM expects techwriters to develop and contribute skills in
interface design and usability. IBM treats product development and
associated customer information as an Engineering deliverable by making ID
a part of Engineering.

The ID process entails getting feedback from current and prospective users
of IBM's products and from other stakeholders (techsupport, field
personnel, etc.), and then incorporating that feedback into the product,
documentation, and other deliverables (training, support, etc.). For
techwriters, the main goal is that they improve their documentation by
having a better sense of their audience. Also, the feedback helps them
contribute more to the design of the user interfaces of the product.

--Will Turner

> [Original Message]
> From: Grant, Christopher <CGrant -at- glhec -dot- org>
> To: TECHWR-L <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>; William Turner
<whturner -at- earthlink -dot- net>
> Date: 10/9/2002 2:28:36 PM
> Subject: RE: taking too long
> > This is not simply CYA; cross-functional signoffs ensure that

> > everyone is pulling on the oars in the same direction at the

> > same rate.


> And that the technical writer is actually on the boat, and not on the

> waving his or her arms in frustration. :)


> > Not to hijack this thread, but the reason that I responded

> > here is that writers who are ignorant of this planning process make

> > difficult for all writers, because, as Genevieve's boss apparently

> > demonstrates, there is a tendency among those in other disciplines to

> underestimate

> > the difficulty of producing good documentation.


> Great point, Will. To me, this is just another way of saying that

> writers need to be (able to be) involved with a project from the getgo and

> participating in the project in the same way clients, SMEs and developers

> participate.


> Like you said, being ignorant of this fact is dangerous: for both the

> you mentioned, and also because it's very difficult for a writer to really

> "own" his or her documentation if they're only brought in after the fact.

> personally feel it's absolutely impossible to write solid documentation

> without being involved this way. (And by solid I mean comprehensive,

> bulletproof, robust, useful, etc. as opposed to passable, acceptable,

> workable, etc.) YMMV, of course.


> Chris Grant

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