Writers job description/definition

Subject: Writers job description/definition
From: SB <sylvia -dot- braunstein -at- gmail -dot- com>
To: TECHWR-L <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Sun, 24 Feb 2008 17:31:39 +0200

I have been working in this company for the past three years. OK, it is true
that I have only recently started to receive a list of deltas between
versions and it is still not complete. So, I do have to do a comparison
which is very long and very tedious. So yes, this needs to be fixed.

My colleague (a freelancer) believes that he should get all the material
from the engineers. He works without a system (OK, lately there was a lot of
pressure), focusses on what he understands (the warnings for example, which
is obviously trivial compared to the rest) and edits the English but does
not bother trying to make any sense because "this is the job of the
engineers" and doing that would be doing "QA", which is not our job.

So, this colleague, who has many years of experience, focusses on editing
what he gets and making things pretty. Of course, since he is very focussed
on detail, it takes him a long time. However, if I tell him that he has to
think in terms of user and that the engineers are not supposed to understand
how to do that, he argues with me and tells me that it is not our job and
that his wife is not suppsed to know how to install this. The unfortunate
part is that he does not know either and he does not even try to understand.

So, he has many years of experience working as a sole technical writer and
doing pretty much everything he wants the way he wants (and gets paid a lot
of money for it). However, even the editing and the formatting takes him
ages and in the end the work becomes my job. It is really hard for me to
commit to a deadline because I can't truly rely on him and most of the time
the work actually falls back on me.

So, is this how it goes? Am I totally wrong and he is right? We get all the
material from the engineers, we don't try to make sense of it and work with
a system, and we assume that the engineers know how to introduce the
material to users. So what we do is edit and format. Write nice little
macros, at times redraw a block diagram and that's it, we get a huge salary.

Am I expecting too much from him? Am I defining the job the wrong way? I
mean, I remember in my previous company that my boss was also trying to make
sense of things and work with a system (hardware or software), even if we
had to release things very fast.

OK, so now I have to come to my boss and introduce a job descriptoin of what
technical writers are expected to do.

Anybody can help? I am not trying to get a specific list for my company but
a list that shows the responsibilities of the technical writer, especially a
senior technical writer (that reports to me) and that earns a fortune.

Create HTML or Microsoft Word content and convert to Help file formats or
printed documentation. Features include support for Windows Vista & 2007
Microsoft Office, team authoring, plus more.

True single source, conditional content, PDF export, modular help.
Help & Manual is the most powerful authoring tool for technical
documentation. Boost your productivity! http://www.helpandmanual.com

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