RE: Happy to be a Tech Writer?

Subject: RE: Happy to be a Tech Writer?
From: Kevin McLauchlan <kmclauchlan -at- safenet-inc -dot- com>
To: 'Gene Kim-Eng' <techwr -at- genek -dot- com>, Kevin McLauchlan <kmclauchlan -at- safenet-inc -dot- com>, techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
Date: Wed, 4 Apr 2007 13:12:19 -0400

Gene Kim-Eng [mailto:techwr -at- genek -dot- com] observed:

> From: "Kevin McLauchlan" <kmclauchlan -at- safenet-inc -dot- com>
> > I find it fascinating that a number of you seem to work in companies
> where
> > the writer knows more about the overall product than the Eng-Test and QA
> > and integration support people.

> I suspect that many of us who find ourselves in this position
> are working in environments where there may not *be*
> "Eng-Test and QA and integration support people" who are
> separate entities from whatever team the writers report to.
> When I was an engineer in a big aerospace company with
> Test, QA and Systems Integration groups, we engineers and
> the few writer/editors who supported us seldom knew much
> more about the "overall product" than our particular part
> and how it interacted with its next highest level assembly;
> in the 30-person company I currently work for, "test, QA
> and integration support" are performed by a team of...
> 30 people.

Different strokes, I guess.
I joined "this" company in '98, when it was about 35 people.
We had a 1-person IT dept., a receptionist (who got laryngitis a _lot_), a
2-person "Product Validation" crew (that was a combination of Eng-Test and
QA and was really just a barnacle on the hide of Engineering), a hardware
guy, an HR person, a biz-dev guy, a marketing woman, an arteeste (who was
tight with marketing/biz-dev), a bunch of firmware, driver, and software
developers.... oh, and the new kid, their first tech writer.

Several years (including growth to 200 bods, followed by some brutal
shrinkage) and two acquisitions later, we're a 35-person branch office of a
thousand-plus-person multi-national. The same HR person works 3-day weeks to
co-ordinate us with the American head office. The biz-dev guy is still here.
We have a couple of local Customer Support guys, a security-and-crypto
architect, a coordinator for the umpteen agency certifications and
validations, the same hardware guy, a minor slew of firmware and software
developers, and a four-person (plus manager) Eng-Test group ... oh, and that
same writer guy. The QA, Prod Manglement, Proj Manglement, IT, accounting
and various other functions are done elsewhere by actual groups of people.

So, along with my other previous high-tech employment, going back
<mumbledy-mumble> years and with companies a hundred times bigger, I've
pretty much always known testing as a separate function - separate from the
folks who make the stuff. It's like being your own editor. You can do it,
and it kinda works, but don't trust it. Better to have somebody with
different viewpoint and loyalty and skills doing the testing.

Meanwhile, echoing somebody else on the list, I'd say I'm quite a happy
camper about 3 working days out of every 5. The other days it might be a
little draggy, or it might be horribly frustrating.


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