RE: Help on Coordination between Engineers and Technical Witers

Subject: RE: Help on Coordination between Engineers and Technical Witers
From: <Daniel_Hall -at- trendmicro -dot- com>
To: <i_kostadinova -at- prosyst -dot- bg>, <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Thu, 26 Feb 2004 08:43:59 -0800


My thoughts:

Leverage the engineering tools - See if you can get your writers access to the bug tracking and feature request software that developers use. This is one half of the process that I use here. When working on documentation for a project, I check the bug tracker each day to see which open bugs have been closed. Obviously, I have to cull through the non-visible (to users) bug fixes to extract the ones that are related to the interface of product interaction, but so far this has worked well. In addition, developers are encouraged to assign "doc bugs" to me if they find them, and the engineering project manager often tells engineers to assign bugs to me to close if the issue is related to something in the documentation.

Be "on the scene" - Make sure that the writers are attending the weekly project meetings. This is the other half of my process, and is where I get a lot of my input for what's changed in the interface. While listening for the tidbits of information I need to make the documentation match the product, I also offer assistance whenever possible - suggesting wording for error messages, providing opinions about the user experience, etc. Being an active member of the team (and being seen as such) contributes to the process of getting timely information, because I'm in the developers sight at least twice a week. So there's no danger that the writer is "out of sight, out of mind."

Obviously these suggestions won't work in all cases, and sometimes work less than perfectly, even here. But for me this has provided a good basis for communication with the engineers. Which is the foundation to keeping the docs and application in synch.



-----Original Message-----
From: bounce-techwr-l-129804 -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com
[mailto:bounce-techwr-l-129804 -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com]On Behalf Of Iliana
Sent: Thursday, February 26, 2004 8:30 AM
Subject: Help on Coordination between Engineers and Technical Witers

Hi there!

It's Iliana Kostova, a manager of a publications department. I've been
doing this for about 4 years.

At my company we're trying to improve the coordination process between
developers and technical writers. The problem is that sometimes
technical writers don't get notified of software changes or new features
that should be present in the user documentation. And vise versa, it may
happen that developers don't know if something is changed in the
documentation and they don't check it for correctness. We're seeking for
a way to define a formal process to solve this issue and place it in our
quality management system (it's based on ISO 9001).

My company offers products, made of several projects. The input for our
activity is software requirement specifications (I think they should be
similar to product requirement specifications). But sometimes, they are
completely out-of-date and turn out to be almost useless. A kind of
solution is to check for changes all projects once a week, but this
becomes a nightmare when there are more than 30 projects within a product.

How do you proceed in such situations? Do you have special meetings with
the development team, discussing what the documentation should contain.
Do you think that technical writers should attend the meetings
discussing the design of a project? Here, these meetings are too

Btw. I've looked at the "Is this a typical technical writing
environment?" topic and I've found some useful information there. I've
also searched the archive, but haven't succeeded yet to find something
that I can use.

Thank you in advance for you help.

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