RE: outsourcing

Subject: RE: outsourcing
From: "Bill Lawrence" <scribe -at- matrixplus -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Fri, 14 Nov 2003 15:20:27 -0500

Learning XML, XSLT, and FO have already made me competitive. Because of
that, I weathered the economic downturn very nicely. Folks that can use
Robohelp, Word, and Frame (as my boss recently said) are a
"dime-a-dozen," at least in the Pittsburgh market.

No doubt, being a wizard in anything is valuable. No doubt being a
competent writer will always be an advantage. My intent is not to again
start the endless religious wars over tools. But, I'll stick by my
point. If you are following the acceptance of Open Office, you'll note
that it is clobbering MS Office in the third world, and causing MS real
headaches in Europe. If good enough technical writing is OK, good
enough Word output (from Open Office) will be OK. If the deliverable is
online help, do you really think upper management cares if it is built
in Robohelp or the Modular Docbook Stylesheets? The only people that
will care are the tech writers at the client company, and we've already
stated that in many companies it is a "good enough" deliverable that is
all that matters.

Secondly, many very, very big companies are already using open-source
XML tools, not because of their cost, but because of their capabilities.
As for Open Office, I've used both it and Word extensively and frankly
it's more stable than Word.

To pull the argument away from the tools, my point is this: initially in
a global market, the tools choices will be up to the tech writers at the
client company. If they fail to become an integral part of the process,
and are instead viewed as an impediment to the "cost savings," they
won't have much to say. If, on the other hand, the client company's tech
writers become the focal point for managing the effort of offshore
writers and learn to work with them effectively, both will prosper.
That includes learning languages, tools, etc.


> -----Original Message-----
> From: eric -dot- dunn -at- ca -dot- transport -dot- bombardier -dot- com
> [mailto:eric -dot- dunn -at- ca -dot- transport -dot- bombardier -dot- com]
> Sent: Friday, November 14, 2003 2:46 PM
> To: Bill Lawrence
> Subject: RE: outsourcing
> "Bill Lawrence" <scribe -at- matrixplus -dot- com> wrote on 11/14/2003 02:25:35
> > I'm unconvinced that Frame and Robohelp and other
> > commercial tools will be all that useful in the
> > wide-open global market everyone expects.
> > I think the offshore trend will be to use
> > open-source tools simply because of cost.
> If cost of the tool to the client was an issue and open-source tools
> the
> correct choice, then the move to them would/will have nothing to do
> outsourcing or overseas contractors.
> The customers will still force tool or at least delivery format on the
> contractors as they have always done. Based on the requirements of
> workflow and installed user base. If MSWord remains dominant in
> engineering,
> MSWord will remain as the dominant choice of delivery format. If a
> has a
> workflow based on FM files, they will continue to demand that the
> contractors
> deliver content in that format.
> Seeing how much griping there is on Techwr-l about the tool choices
> foisted on
> techwriters by upper management when the techpubs dept is local, do
> really
> think such far removed contractors will have a say in the tools
> requirements?
> But once again, Techwr-l gets sucked into a tools discussion. Anyone
> learn
> any tool. That's why techwriting based on simple tool use and data
> is now
> commoditised and a candidate for contracting and outsourcing.
> You aren't going to make yourself competitive simply by learning
> Either
> you need to know how to make the tools sign, or need to master the
> content/deliverables created using those tools.
> Indeed my mastery of FrameMaker and FrameScript may make me more cost
> effective
> than any number of open-source wielding competitors. How competitive
> are on
> the global market place isn't about tools or their cost, but the
> quality/cost of
> the deliverables created.
> An analogy that may only be tenuously appropriate: machine tools or
> workshop
> tools. You COULD build your own. Some people do. Many don't, and
> still a
> market place for both cheap mass produced tools and MEGA-expensive
> specialty or
> high-quality tools. The reason? Sometimes the more expensive tool
> you to
> be more productive, consistent, and cost effective.
> Eric L. Dunn
> Senior Technical Writer



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RE: outsourcing: From: eric . dunn

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