RE: Moving upstream

Subject: RE: Moving upstream
From: "Jones, Donna" <DJones -at- zebra -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Fri, 19 May 2006 10:38:59 -0500

Just wondering, how many of you have the opportunity to provide input on
behalf of the user at earlier stages in the development process?

For the most part, our writers are involved with products right from the
concept phase. However, some groups welcome our input while others
resist it. Some even try to dictate how we write to the point where they
create unusable manuals or procedures. In a situation like that, you
have to be confident enough in your abilities as a writer to stand up
for what you know is correct or not. It's not easy to tell a product
manager, "No, that heading doesn't belong there because it breaks up the
logical flow of this procedure/chapter/book." But it can be done

On one project, I totally irritated the product manager by pointing out
problems in a user interface that had cost big bucks to design. He chose
not to do anything about the problems--until the lead programmer and
several others on the team complained about the same things months
later. After that, this particular product manager tended to listen a
bit more to what I had to say. I try not to abuse this new situation by
complaining too much. It's nice to know that he will probably listen now
if I truly think that something warrants a change.

Sometimes, you have to establish a reputation for pointing out things
that people need to consider before they'll take you seriously. If
you're too timid, they'll never hear you. If you're too vocal, they'll
dismiss you. As you might guess, I tend to err on the side of being "too
vocal." :-) But hey, I've gotta be me!

Happy Friday!

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