Re: Desiging your Documentation/Writing Department

Subject: Re: Desiging your Documentation/Writing Department
From: Dick Margulis <margulisd -at- comcast -dot- net>
To: nosnivel -at- netvision -dot- net -dot- il
Date: Fri, 11 Aug 2006 12:18:18 -0400

Mark L. Levinson wrote:

Donna writes:
> Plus I've seen how writers who
> are embedded among the engineers tend to go off and do their own thing
> without regard to what other writers in the company are doing.

Aye, there's the rub. If there's no central
techwriting authority and decisions are made
for the writers by different, non-writerly
supervisors, how do the writers achieve
consistency across the company? How do they
achieve quality when their schedules are set,
their training is budgeted, and their work is
judged by supervisors who do not necessarily
have any affinity for technical writing?
What happens when the toolsets of different
departments begin to diverge?

I've seen the results of breaking up a technical
writing department and they are not pretty.

People, people, please! This is a no-brainer if you understand the concept of a matrix organization.

Writers belong to a tech writing resource group. That group has a functional manager who assigns people to project teams for a portion of the workweek. The project team provides the subject-matter expertise, the project plan (listing deliverables and deadlines), _some_ of the reviewers, and the funding for the time team members spend on the project. But the resources assigned to the team all answer to their own functional managers in terms of meeting and maintaining standards across the organization, spending allotted amounts of time on various project teams and on administrative (non-project) tasks, etc.

I know this sounds like answering to two bosses, and if it's implemented badly it can certainly feel that way, too. But done right it works well. Writers can still belong to the tech writing department and yet spend their days co-located with the project groups they're assigned to. Not a problem. No need to break anything up at all.



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RE: Desiging your Documentation/Writing Department: From: Mark L. Levinson

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