At what point can I pass the buck?

Subject: At what point can I pass the buck?
From: "Downing, David" <david -dot- downing -at- Fiserv -dot- com>
To: <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Wed, 18 Mar 2009 08:30:45 -0500

For awhile now, I've had some coworkers come to me with questions about our product, some of which seem like they should have been taken directly to an SME. In fact, I ended up passing some of the questions on to an SME. On the other hand, as the person who documents the product, maybe I should be able to answer some of these questions.

Obviously, questions that deal specifically with clarifying something in the documentation are my responsibility -- e.g., "On p. 34, you have a statement that's ambiguous. Did you mean A or B?" But some of the questions I'm getting are on the order of, "The documentation says it's supposed to work this way, but that contradicts what's happening when the client tries to do such-and-such. Is the product misbehaving, is the documentation wrong, or am I misreading the documentation?"

Of course, if the documentation is inaccurate or ambiguous, I need to know that, but to what extent is it my responsibility to explain why the product is (possibly) behaving in an anomalous fashion. At what point am I justified in passing the buck to the SME?

David Downing
Senior Technical Writer
Credit Union Solutions


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