Re: Seeking counsel - yet another difficult work situation

Subject: Re: Seeking counsel - yet another difficult work situation
From: Ed Wurster <glassnet -at- gmail -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Fri, 17 Dec 2004 06:03:08 -0500

> I am the sole documenter in a software development company whose products
> are developing at an extraordinary rate. The work environment is geared
> towards getting new features out quickly. As a result, almost all of
> management's time is directed toward ensuring the development progresses
> smoothly.

The company places higher value on the programming effort.
Documentation is something you have to do, as the customer requires

> This, however, does not extend to the documentation. Documentation issues
> seem to 'fall through the cracks', with nobody seemingly able (or willing)
> to do anything about it.

Documentation is an after-thought. If you leave the company you'll be
replaced, and life will go on for you, and the company will still sell

> Although there is a lot of 'lip service' to the documentation (verbal "thank
> you's" from development managers and even an email expressing gratitude and
> support from the CEO), there is no practical backup for me as the
> documentor.

You are not paid enough. If I doubled your pay, would you feel the
same way about this job?

> I have been trying to implement procedures to:
> a) get the information I need to keep the information up to date, and
> b) review the documentation,
> but with little lasting success. Requests for assistance, direction or
> information to management go unheeded or, more accurately, are ignored (the
> implication being the requests are less important than other matters and 'we
> don't have time to answer them now'). Often it is the development managers
> undermining the 'fledgling' processes.

You have little power in this organization. Focus on crafting the best
documents you can (build up your portfolio.) Find a way to organize
the flow in a spreadsheet. Always fill in the date you released the
doc. This is a subtle way to say to yourself "I did it." Let go of
that section and move on to the next.

> To make matters worse, there are no SME's who can verify the content -
> coupled with the 'unwillingness' of the developers to review, this could
> lead to serious problems with the documentation, with the responsibility
> lying squarely with me.

It's not your fault, but you are willing to take the blame. Others
will blame you.

> I am currently in the position where I don't even know to whom I report (the
> company I work for is a recent amalgamation of several software dev
> companies and is still in a state of flux).
> Needless to say, I am floundering and have no idea how to get out of this
> situation.

You need to talk with your supervisor or manager. Take an honest look
at the workload and suggest ways you could do more. You need a
part-time assistant, or on-call help. This person will do the mundane,
and relieve all the pressure.

Ed Wurster



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Seeking counsel - yet another difficult work situation: From: Robyn Richards

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