MS Word 2003 - Working without a template

Subject: MS Word 2003 - Working without a template
From: SB <sylvia -dot- braunstein -at- gmail -dot- com>
To: TECHWR-L <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Sun, 13 Jan 2008 18:20:01 +0200

We are working with MS Word 2003.

1. I inherited documentation several years ago. Because there was always so
much work, I never bothered creating a template even though a simple
template would have been nice. In my previous company, we didn't use a
template even though my boss always wanted to implement one. I definitely
didn't have as much work in my previous company as I do here.

2. My colleague started developing a template a year ago or so when he
started working here. He has been investing a lot of effort into that and
somehow, I feel that it is a lot of work instead of focusing on the
documentation. Again, we don't have extra time for anything at all, on the
contrary, we are totally overloaded.

We are now two full-time Technical Writers (he is a freelancer) for a
company of 170 growing exponentially, as do the products, on a daily basis.
There are many products. I can't keep up with the rhythm of the

My colleague focuses a lot on doing things right, which is nice but we don't
have the time to do it. I focus more on getting things done. So, I keep
going and going and he keeps developing and doing things the way he thinks
it should be done, which of course takes a lot longer.

It would be nice if we could indeed do things right but we are not a large

We just hired a freelancer who had worked for large companies who was in
shock that I was not working with a template (actually, I was quite annoyed
that he worked on it while we had to meet the sharp deadlines). A template
can be a major development project and according to the hours he listed
working on it, it was. All I had in mind was a simple template. What we now
have is a rather sophisticated one, which is nice... but what about getting
the work done? So I sometimes feel that I have hired him to get a template
done and some of the documentation too.

There is no doubt that we are understaffed and this year, we might also move
onto different tool, like an authoring tool or a wiki, making the template
obsolete anyway.

1. In a situation where you are continuously swamped, what is right, getting
the job done or working according to the rules of the "religion" (which he
set up since this is his template)?
2. How can I convince the management that we are understaffed? I am
extremely frustrated. In October, during the budget discussions, I told them
that we were in deep trouble and could not keep up with the requirements. I
told them I needed two more writers.

I see the company growing, R&D growing, and the technical writing team is
remaining the way it was. A year ago, they hired the freelancer because I
said I would quit. He was supposed to work part-time, he is working
full-time. Then I thought that I was allowed to hire one technical writer
but then when I found someone, they made me choose and to them, they'd
rather have a technical writer in-house because it would be cheaper.

I am there again, more frustrated than ever. I just can't handle this. They
always pull the budget story, since I have been working here. However, we
have been listed as the "fastest growing hi-tech company", and the whole
company grows, products changes tremendously, teams are growing and I am
spending days and nights trying to get to the deadline because my name is on
the row.

I am doing all the writing from scratch, documenting the User Interfaces
with a project of about 1000 pages that is updated every six months or less
and I am working on many other projects too. The freelancer mostly receives
the documentation, edits and formats it. Both of us interview (that is when
engineers are willing to take the time to do it because they are too busy

I would also like to know what is the writing cycle in a medium size

- Who sets the priorities?
- Does R&D write the documentation and the writers review it and
format it? R&D don't have the time to even give support because they are
busy developing.
- Who reviews the documentation? QA? They can't help because they are
busy with the QA cycle!
- I would also like to know what is expected from a writer. How many
pages, how many projects per writer?

I would be happy if I could hear a couple words of advice.



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