Re: End User Manual and SharePoint Wiki

Subject: Re: End User Manual and SharePoint Wiki
From: "Cathy Arthur" <catherine -dot- arthur -at- gmail -dot- com>
To: techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
Date: Mon, 10 Dec 2007 12:53:56 -0500

Hi all,

Sounds like your management started reading Wikinomics by Don Tapscott and
Anthony D. Williams and thought your doc would be an easy way to try it
out. Particularly since it will be backed by regular documentation at some
point. Wikinomics is an interesting read and we've been thinking about how
we would do Wikis for internal documentation, but I haven't had time to
implement one as yet. Intercom had a issue with a Wiki focus in the spring,
as well, if you want a faster and more focussed TW read, but Wikinomics may
help you to see where management is coming from.

The timelines that you have make it an entirely uncontrolled experiement,
but it doesn't mean it is a complete waste of time. I suspect you will have
some users update the manual. Probably not that many, since most people seem
to have little to no response on requests for feedback or error reporting.
Perhaps you will be fortunate and the passionate users who care about the
product will rummage through the Wiki and find errors and omissions. Or have
good suggestions about what they would like to know and they can't find the
answers. Then you will have the data on which to base a more planned wiki in
the future.

I would want to respond to management with something alongs the lines of
yes, we'll do this since you asked, but we haven't prepared for this and we
have concerns about:

[] incorrect information being propagated
[] poor image for the company because incorrect information is posted
[] how do you respond to customers e.g. is marketing going to send the
thank-you notes or will they let the writers have direct contact ;)
[] adding the additional work to even monitor the wiki means something else
cannot happen. Triple constraints apply - time, quality, scope. If they have
changed the scope, then time or quality has to change.

Also keep in mind that it is a big unknown for customers as well, and it may
happen that no-one at all will look at it (why bother if the prototype is
not available?), and you will have the data to reply to management that it
may not be an appropriate method for your company, or that a more controlled
deployment is necessary. Or they may get valuable marketing information as
early adopters look to the prototype and think "Wow, that looks great" or
quite the reverse, in which case there may be substantial re-writes as the
prototype design is, ah, refined.

You may find that lots of people put their fingers in it and re-write with
horrible grammar and mis-spellings. Or worse, incorrect information - which
then tells you where you have incomplete/insufficient explanations and you
also have a new entry into a question and answer section. Depending on the
wiki, that could be an entry beneath the incorrect edit that explains it
all, and you and the customer may find it is helpful. Do

The problem isn't the wiki per se, it is the do-it-without-consultation and
no time. I would try a very fast outline of best, intermediate, and worst
case scenarios that you can imagine, and then negotiate what is expected
with your management. Are you expected to take/respond to all edits?
Probably not, but that should be defined up front. It will take time, but if
the parameters are discussed everyone should understand the pros and cons.
It ain't all bad. Last, but not least, you've documented your concerns and
represented the group fairly.


Message: 15
Date: Fri, 07 Dec 2007 07:17:37 -0800
From: "Jim Barrow" <vrfour -at- verizon -dot- net>
Subject: End User Manual and SharePoint Wiki
To: <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Message-ID: <002701c838e4$4dcd7ab0$6401a8c0 -at- us -dot- deloitte -dot- com>
Content-Type: text/plain; charset=us-ascii

Good morning, folks!

The following is true and correct. Only the names have been changed to
protect the sane. I'm posting this to get some feedback (I'm looking at
you, Gene ;^)

My Technical Publications group is starting on the end user documentation
for a large ERP project (we've completed the "as is" documentation and this
is posted on our SharePoint site).

The geniuses in upper-management have learned what a wiki is, and they've
decided that the TechPubs group should post the end-user documentation to a
SharePoint wiki as it is written. The purpose of this is to allow the
end-users to edit our material. Here's what I see as the main sticking
points with this:

1. The software application has not been completely developed yet, and the
end-users have never seen a prototype. If they have no benchmark against
which to measure the documentation, and we're handling the formatting and
spellchecking, what value could this add?

2. We have 3000 end-users. If even a fraction of this group made edits, how
could these be effectively maintained, validated and incorporated into the

3. We're writing the help files in RoboHelp and our deadline is unbelievably
tight. How can we possibly write, review and edit the documents that we pass
around within the department *and* maintain edits from ~3000 pseudo-editors?

Believe me when I say that ANY feedback is much appreciated. I've been
chosen to build a case against what the TechPubs group sees as a complete
waste of time.




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