Process for Requesting Writing Services?

Subject: Process for Requesting Writing Services?
From: Carol Anne Wall <carol_anne_t_wall -at- msn -dot- com>
To: <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Fri, 17 Jul 2009 08:27:15 -0500

How do you receive requests for your writing services? Does someone just
drop by your desk, ask for help and you decide if you have time? Does
your manager assign you to a project or a specific task? Is there a
formal request (memo, database entry) that outlines what they need you
to do?
Our department recently reorganized, and the tech writers (2) and admin
assistants (2) are now part of the Product/Project Support team. Our
manager (programming/consultant background) has assigned the writers
and one admin to develop the shape of "product/project support", and
define our roles. We are also uncovering what the business analysts
and testers need to get their job done -- and standardizing who (writer
vs. admin) does what.
The problem we're trying to solve is the underutilization of the admins and the
writers, and improve the depth of our system/project documentation.
One thought we had was to create a list of what our team can do, and
then ask the BA/PM/QA Lead to specifically request those services. Then
our manager could assign the appropriate team member(s) to the
We're trying to avoid a situation where there's a request for a tech
writer, and the task to be performed better fits an admin's skill set.
We also want to distribute the workload better; one person's feast is
another's famine.
In the meantime, I've been looking for writing request templates and
I've been re-reading JoAnn Hackos's "Managing Your Documentation
Projects". According to Hackos, we are somewhere between level zero
and level one* in her maturity model. Our initial goal is to move into a
level two process. But we can't do that overnight.
Some of the processes and templates in her book don't look like
they'd work well at our staffing/operational/maturity level. It would be more
helpful to find out what other small teams do.
I would love to hear what works for you, and any other resources I
should review.

Carol Anne
* Level Zero: Docs created by anyone who has the time.
Level One: Docs created by writers but without processes or coordination.
Level Two: Beginning stages of process development and coordination to assure consistency.

Carol Anne Wall - St. Paul, MN

carol_anne_t_wall -at- msn -dot- com


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