Re: Help on Coordination between Engineers and Technical Witers

Subject: Re: Help on Coordination between Engineers and Technical Witers
From: Peter Neilson <neilson -at- alltel -dot- net>
To: TECHWR-L <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Thu, 26 Feb 2004 12:26:06 -0500

On Thu, 26 Feb 2004 11:46:40 -0500, John Posada <JPosada -at- isogon -dot- com> wrote:

I have a problem with the part:

..."Here, these meetings are too "technical"."

That means that developers are talking about a product that you are
going to write about. If what they are discussing is too technical, how
do you write about it? Shouldn't you at least be at the level where
you'll know enough about what they are talking about to know if they are
discussing a feature you don't know about?

I've sat through these meetings, where all the discussion is on which
algorithm or protocol is appropriate, or on why bugs in various versions
of the compiler are keeeping the developers from getting their work done.
The key is, at the end of the meeting the tech writer wakes up and asks,
"Of the stuff you decided today, what's going to affect the documentation?
Will customers see something new or different on the screen? Will the
development team need revisions to the specs that they won't have time to
do until it's too late?" You cannot ask those questions unless you're
there. A summary of the meeting, delivered to the writer, will not do.
You have to be there, mostly silent, but there.

Has anyone ever been surprised by a new product that was developed in
secret, or that was brought in sideways from an acquisition? Suddenly
the tech writer is asked to provide full documentation in a matter of
days. "The stuff you'll need is on this disk." And they'll give you
a floppy with an out-of-date spec, or everything's in Frame source but
you don't have Frame in house, or whatever. There's no way that one
tech writer can justify walking around the company's executive offices
every day, hoping to hear about the secret deals that result in this
kind of calamity. Instead, that's the job of the writer's manager, or
the managers further up the chain. They'll be attending the meetings
with the dealmakers, and should ask pointed questions about expectations
concerning documentation, funding for documentation, and so forth. The
writer's job is to make sure these managers are properly educated so
that they can ask the right questions. Oh, and thank them when they
do a good job and get you the up-to-date spec three months ahead of
what would have otherwise happened.


RE: Help on Coordination between Engineers and Technical Witers: From: John Posada

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