Qualifications for an off shore writer?

Subject: Qualifications for an off shore writer?
From: Julie Stickler <jstickler -at- gmail -dot- com>
To: TECHWR-L <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Tue, 17 Feb 2009 13:35:52 -0500

My company is making a serious move to Agile programming. We've hired
developers and management with Agile experience, we've started daily
Scrum meetings, we're moving to a new office where we'll all be in
cubes instead of offices, etc. At the moment, I'm a sole writer. But
one of the things that my manager has give me the heads up about is
that we're looking to start using Agile with our overseas developers,
and we're probably going to be hiring an overseas technical writer to
be part of that Scrum team. Since I'm the lead writer, I need to
start thinking about writing up a job description for that offshore
writer.

I've had limited experience working with offshore technical writers,
and none of it has been particularly good. At a previous job my
manager tried to find writers in both Brazil and London, Ontario
(which I gather is not a high-tech area?) , and had little success
finding suitable candidates. Our training department experimented with
course developers in the Philippines, and the one course developer I
spoke with said that she spent so much time managing and correcting
their work that it would have been easier to just do it herself. When
I started my current job we had a technical writer in India that I had
to fire because (despite his claim of being an experienced tech
writer) he did not know that FrameMaker had spellcheck. So, I'm
wondering what sort of requirements I should include in a job
description beyond what I would include if I were hiring locally?

Some things that I've considered include:
- Must be fluent in English.
- Must have experience writing technical documentation in English.

Any other idea, suggestions, stories to share about hiring off shore writers?


And before any out of work tech writer private messages me asking
about the job, you need to know the following:
1) We don't have a job description yet.
2) We don't have a job requisition yet.
3) We don't even know which country we're talking about yet (although
it will probably be India, outside chance of China), but the writer
must be in the same physical location as the new development team.

Thanks,
Julie
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