Re: Help requested re Software Specifications

Subject: Re: Help requested re Software Specifications
From: Peter Neilson <neilson -at- alltel -dot- net>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Thu, 03 Jun 2004 22:07:40 -0400


In reply to Bonnie:

The short answer is, "Yes, you can do it. Yes, it varies
from company to company. You'll be learning what's REALLY
involved as you go along, and it may not be what you've been
told to expect." Whose dime? Well, a friend of mine had
to quote on a job for which he was lacking some skills. He
quoted a very high rate, and the manager questioned it.
"Sure," he said, "I have to charge more, because it'll be
hard for me to do it, because I don't have the skills yet."
"Oh, I guess that's ok," said the manager. (Your chutzpah
may vary.)

When I've worked on these things it's gone either of two
directions. Sometimes the whole design, including what it's
supposed to do and how it's going to do it, has all been
figured out by the SMEs, and all I've had to do was make
the English look right. Other times it's been very hand-wavy,
maybe designed and sold by Marketing, with the interface to
other portions of software (or business & finance procedures)
not yet explored, and with the engineering staff under pressure
to deliver code, not specs. Even if the customer knows what
format is needed, the tech writer can be terribly adrift, and
find that substantial research is required before any words
can be set down.

My last one of these was international in scope. The New
System was to tie everything together, interfacing with or
replacing business procedures at a number of domestic and
foreign sites. My contacts in one foreign country expressed
surprise that the New System was being undertaken at all,
and had no information for me except, "That'll never happen."
After several months of my work, in which I extricated
hidden details and interfaces with a crowbar, the company
dumped the project. Sure enough, millions wasted, and it
never happened. For me, the net addition to my portfolio
was zip.

(Nearly everything I've worked on in the last ten years has
been proprietary or cancelled. My entire public portfolio
consists of very old work, much of it in paper copy only,
very hard to e-mail as writing samples to prospects. Gotta be
a lesson in here somewhere.)


On Thu, 3 Jun 2004 20:52:37 -0400, Bonnie Granat <bgranat -at- granatedit -dot- com> wrote:

Bonnie Granat wrote:
If the structure and design of every specification document is
different from company to company, then I have a great deal of
experience. But perhaps you are meaning something else. If so,
what do you mean?


What I meant above was that if you give me a sample specification
and a piece of software, I can write a document like the sample
about the software you gave me. How is that "slogging"?

Also, nothing about the above process is on my dime; but, again,
have I misunderstood?


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References:
Help requested re Software Specifications: From: Bonnie Granat
Re: Help requested re Software Specifications: From: Dick Margulis
Re: Help requested re Software Specifications: From: Bonnie Granat
Re: Help requested re Software Specifications: From: Bonnie Granat

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