Re: Technical writing in the development process
Presently, at my office I am not involved at all until the very end and then I find myself trying to do eight weeks of documentation in two or three weeks, as the developers tend to see a July 30th deadline as meaning they should have it done on July 29th. :)
As Geoff Hart has indicated, isn't this the standard definition of technical writing?
I think Geoff also hit upon a very important point as well. As the first real technical writer this company has hired, you may have an opportunity to try to bring some reasonable definition to the process.
More years ago than I care to acknowledge, I worked in the satellite communications industry where I would actually get into conversations with engineers who said, for all intents and purposes, "who gives you the right to tell me what to do." Not one to leave a challenge like this on the table, I went back to school to try to get a handle on what researchers were saying about this process.
I knew from experience that technical writers -- indeed, any collaborators on a project -- provide substantive direction to the creation of the document and the success of the product. The notion of collaborative writing has been around now for over 15 years and researched and documented quite remarkably. Somehow this notion of collaborative writing seems to have been ignored in a lot of technical and corporate environments.
While studying technical writing back then, in an effort to justify my existence, I wrote an article, now very old, entitled "Between Editor and Authors" At the risk of being considered self-promoting, this article can be found at <http://www.wcdd.com/dd/articles/STCintro.html>. It is quite old now, but alas, the situation appears to have changed little, at least in many corporate environments.
I now no longer do technical editing for fun and profit. For a while, I found it much more rewarding to write "research papers" for those who didn't have time to do their own work. The deadlines were similar, but most of them, at least, appreciated your efforts. :>
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