Re: Fwd: Acceptance of Mediocre Documentation

Subject: Re: Fwd: Acceptance of Mediocre Documentation
From: mearro -at- msn -dot- com
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Tue, 24 May 2005 17:34:55 -0600

It's great that you are willing to take on more responsibility and to put
in extra effort beyond what is expected.

However, if you are being hired to perform a specific task or to fill a
certain role, then you should not be surprised if that is all that is
expected of you.

There are several reasons why an organization may not want you to "be all
that you can be." If you are a contractor (or change jobs a lot), a
company may want to avoid anything that *seems* complicated so that -
after or if you leave - anyone can update the docs. (I'm not saying that
this is good thinking - just not uncommon.) Another reason is that
sometimes you need to put in a lot of time on a job before your advice and
recommendations are respected & followed. Also, revising existing
documentation - beyond updating - can sometimes be a sensitive issue. Who
created the original docs? How will they react to the revisions? That may
be something that concerns your manager(s).

Another thing to consider is how you support your suggestions. Do you just
say "I think" or can you supply statistics and examples? For example, if
you want to improve the docs by adding indexes - then pass on articles
about the value of indexes. I've also found invoking Microsoft or other
industry leaders to be useful. "Well, Microsoft does XYZ with their Help."

That said, I do sympathise with your situation. I would not want to be in
a position where I couldn't influence & improve the quality of the
documentation that I produced. That's very important to me. I wouldn't
want to accept a position unless I could do that.

Instead of dealing with this situation after you are hired, I'd recommend
spending more time interviewing potential employers so you better know
what is expected of you. During an interview, ask to look at the existing
documentation and try to find out what they like & don't like about it. I
remember one interview where a Doc Manager proudly presented documentation
that I thought was shoddy. I turned that position down. Other interviews,
I've shown examples of my work, explained what I did to the docs, and had
hiring managers tell me they want me to do the same thing to their docs.

Again, it's great that you care about quality. I'm sure that (maybe with a
little effort) you'll have a bright future. Don't be discouraged & don't
stop caring.



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