Re: frustrated

Subject: Re: frustrated
From: "Bill Swallow" <techcommdood -at- gmail -dot- com>
To: "iam nobody88" <iamnobody888 -at- yahoo -dot- com>
Date: Fri, 30 Jun 2006 10:20:42 -0400

I've had my share of handling/coordinating with technical writers. Having been assigned as a lead writer a couple of times, I usually have to face the issue that I must outsource other projects to writers in a particular country, because they're cheaper. That's fine, I do not obviousy own the company or call the shots, nothing I can do about that.

But what do you do if the work they produce is horribly written?

First, you need a solid contract in which you spell out the
requirements for the work. If you're not making them adhere to style,
then you can't do anything about it. Take the loss and learn from it,
and apply what you've learned going forward.

Second, why pay them for work they performed sub-par? Hold the check
and make them fix it.

Third, you need checks and balances in the process, and need to review
their work at defined milestones in the project, this way you can
correct unwanted behavior and poor quality at an earlier stage.

The format is a mess and the usage of English is terrible, it's like a 7-year old was explaining the content. English is not my first language too, but I grew up in an English-speaking household, so I think "in English", if that makes any sense. I hardly speak in my local dialect.

Well, where are you sending the work and are they true professional
tech writers or just people hired to write content? There's a
difference, though if you don't do your homework to obtain their
credentials, you get what you pay for.

If the writing is that bad, it usually makes sense to get someone else, as spending too much time correcting their writing will compromise your timelines. I have tried editing their work, and the ones I've worked with refuse to accept any constructive means to improve their writing. Everytime this happens, I request to discontinue acquiring their services. It's a whole big mess since you step on a lot of toes.

Don't request. Report on the overall quality of work performed,
provide the hours you've spent fixing their work, provide before and
after samples to illustrate the poor docs you've received and how
you've had to fix them, provide any written discourse that illustrates
they are ignoring your project requirements.

This isn't about a sucky work arrangement. This is about a service
that you are paying for that is not adhering to your requirements. To
spin it another way, would you continue to pay your mechanic to fix
your car if he refuses to replace with new parts and insists and
persists to use electrical tape and Bondo?

If I move to another company, it starts all over again. This is a reality in our industry, I know that. Sometimes I wish I could just say "Please stick to programming! You're all good at coding, but most of you are horrible writers!" Forgive me for having to say that, but I really encountered no decent writer from there. And they are getting all the jobs.

From where? I don't know where "there" is. And please be aware that
most contract programmers are also not developers, but coders. There's
a difference. Developers implement solutions via code. Coders follow a
spec and code to it.

I'm fine. I just need to sound this off once and for all. I've just been so frustrated for too long. It's not easy to accept that quality usually has to take a backseat, when our work is defined by that. Anyway, on to regular discussions. I'll start moving on.

It sounds like you just need to pay more attention to the contracts
you're using and establish some checkpoints along the way to ensure
your contracted help is adhering to the contract.

Bill Swallow
HATT List Owner
WWP-Users List Owner
Senior Member STC, TechValley Chapter

WebWorks ePublisher Pro for Word features support for every major Help
format plus PDF, HTML and more. Flexible, precise, and efficient content delivery. Try it today!.
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frustrated: From: iam nobody88

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