Re: Subject: Re: New doc group: FrameMaker or Flare?

Subject: Re: Subject: Re: New doc group: FrameMaker or Flare?
From: David Neeley <dbneeley -at- gmail -dot- com>
To: Bill Swallow <techcommdood -at- gmail -dot- com>
Date: Wed, 5 Jan 2011 17:10:19 +0200


I quite agree with you. At Nortel, the manager was not competent in
this matter, and paid little attention to the work being done so long
as the output was marginally successful. Thus, they had more people
than they needed had all been working effectively.

For example, they had server space on a SAN allocated to the
department, which reached its capacity during a release cycle. I had
to take over release management, reclaiming space on the SAN simply to
get the required documentation properly set up for their release
routine. In the process, I found directories that had been assigned to
writers who had not been there for six or eight years, and nearly
everyone had made copies of documents in their own workspace to the
point that some documents had as many as twenty or thirty copies
scattered around. I consolidated the historical versions into a
department-wide directory and eliminated the space for all the
previous employees, while getting the release itself out on time.
Unfortunately, their tech support person was not doing his job either,
and no one else had the first clue about how to deal with the HPUX
operating environment to be able to properly manage the SAN setup. I
was only a contractor--their permanent hires were pretty dismal and no
one had the first clue about most of the tools at their disposal. I
also discovered because of another assignment I was given that their
engineering database for the switch product we were all working on was
completely inaccurate, to the point they were paying multiple times
for the same work from their Indian-based contract engineers. I was
told later that my work to get that mess straightened out saved Nortel
about four million dollars per year on that one, relatively small
switch. At the time all of us contractors were non-renewed, I had been
put up for four internal awards. By the way, the engineering database
was the responsibility of the VP managing the entire server group.

In the case at hand, though, notice that the OP stated that the
company involved will not have a full-time writer, let alone a "team."
Thus, if they are smart they will prepare for a succession of writers
over a period of time. The resulting plan should be as completely
"idiot proof" as possible--and as we all know, there is much truth to
the old adage that "The reason it is so hard to make anything
idiot-proof is that idiots are so ingenious!"


On Wed, Jan 5, 2011 at 16:11, Bill Swallow <techcommdood -at- gmail -dot- com> wrote:
> You're always going to find someone using a hammer as a crowbar, a
> screwdriver as a chisel, and a wrench as a hammer. FrameMaker isn't
> conducive to idiocy. Whatever tool you implement, train your team
> well, have solid templates with limited styles in place, a solid style
> guide, and a solid set of rules on formatting. If someone goes
> override crazy, ding them on it. If they do it again, ding them hard
> and have it appear on their review as a needed improvement. Why?
> They're causing needless rework; that is, they're not a productive
> member of the team until they clean up their act.
> What damage they could inflict in FrameMaker is no different from what
> they could do in Word, Flare, or any other (unstructured) tool. And if
> the overrides they employ cause workflow/time/effort issues, that's a
> performance issue, not a tools issue, to correct.
> On Wed, Jan 5, 2011 at 5:25 AM, David Neeley <dbneeley -at- gmail -dot- com> wrote:
>> If either printed or .pdf, whether to use Frame would seem to me to
>> depend upon their willingness to engage a documentation professional
>> on contract each time they need to produce a deliverable. In my
>> experience, the incredible mess that is made by inexperienced people
>> doing successive generations of edits and updates on Frame docs must
>> truly be seen to be believed. To this day, I shudder when I think of
>> some of the docs I inherited like this on a contract with Nortel over
>> a decade ago. Format overrides alone were a nightmare when attempting
>> to get a clean result in an upgrade on one of these things.
> --
> Bill Swallow

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Subject: Re: New doc group: FrameMaker or Flare?: From: David Neeley
Re: Subject: Re: New doc group: FrameMaker or Flare?: From: Bill Swallow

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