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From: Pro TechWriter [mailto:pro -dot- techwriter -at- gmail -dot- com]
Sent: Tuesday, February 19, 2008 18:02
I feel your pain, been there more often than not.
If you are fortunate enough to work where there are people who train users, or if your company has tech support folks who support the software: Talk to THEM. They can help you. :-) Ask their opinions; let them know you value them, and the users they talk to.
For me, it's the Sales Engineers and the Customer Support crew who provide most of my worldview of what's going on out there, what customers are doing, trying to do, wishing they could do. A few of those folks are solid gold when it comes to letting me know what works and what... er... not so much, documentation-wise.
The Product Manglers occasionally have insights to share, as do some of the sales people, but they only really give me ideas to go ask the Sales Eng and Customer Support folks. It's good for me that a couple of the Customer Support guys actually live at our location (the rest are at headquarters or regional offices arranged for global timezone coverage). Ever since the Sales Support base was moved out of this locale, I've had less of that very profitable contact with the Sales Eng gang. E-mail is good, but not as impromptu as the lunch room.
Trainers? Not that type of industry, so no trainers.
For actual product functionality and makin' it work, aside from my own hands-on efforts (my cubicle currently has four appliances, three computers and three monitors and my own hub and UPS - is it warm in here or am I getting hot flashes?) I get a tremendous amount from the Engineering Test guys, who live across the hall. But they have no customer environment experience, so it's the Sales Eng and Customer Support folks who help me bridge that gap in my docs.
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