Re: Where does Documentation belong?

Subject: Re: Where does Documentation belong?
From: RShuttleworth -at- visualplant -dot- com
To: techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com
Date: Tue, 10 Feb 2004 12:53:22 -0700

Hello All

My thanks to all who responded to my question. It's clear that the answer
varies from place to place.

The choice for us seems to lie between remaining in R&D/Engineering (we
are a software company), moving into Professional Services, or becoming an
independent department.

Professional Services is a customer-oriented department that takes our
packaged software and implements it according to a customer's needs (for a
charge). They are also responsible for training, which is another revenue
generator. In the past we (R&D TWs) worked on training materials for them,
but it was never an easy relationship because they really didn't know what
they wanted, while we certainly couldn't commit to the kind of work that
we thought they really needed.

However, now PS is planning to hire a technical writer to create training
materials. This means that there will be TWs in R&D and in PS, both groups
working on similar projects, using the same source material, but
answerable to different managers. This seems to me to be a recipe for
duplication. In any case, it would be impossible for the two groups to
work in isolation, so demands would be made in both directions. PS
definitely seems to have much easier access to money that does R&D, which
may be a reflection of different management styles.

I'd like to think that Documentation should act as a resource that is
available to all other departments, treating those departments as clients
and negotiating the commitment to each. I can foresee a time when we would
have writers specialising in technical/R&D, marketing/Web, training, etc.

I've talked this over with my R&D manager and he is open to change. In
fact, he can see Docs becoming a company-wide resource. I just have doubts
that we would have enough clout to get the resources we need.

Further thoughts?

Roger Shuttleworth
London, Canada

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