Re: ANONYMOUS POST: Staffing with unskilled workers

Subject: Re: ANONYMOUS POST: Staffing with unskilled workers
From: Tony Chung <tonyc -at- tonychung -dot- ca>
To: Techwr-l <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Fri, 6 Jan 2012 13:46:12 -0800

The OP did not specify what industry they worked in. In situations where
development dwarfs documentation, the documentation role becomes less about
original writing and more about developing tools and processes to get "good
enough" work out the door and on time. A former manager supported 800 to
1200 offshore and local engineers with a team of 5. His vision was to roll
out XML based documentation, and after so many years the dream is still
alive. At least 60% of the product documentation moved to an XML database.
The only documentation still left in Word or Frame support legacy product
that won't be leveraged for future designs.

I spent most of my time scripting conversion tools and coaching engineers
that 7 levels was way too deep, and to break down their topic set. This
experience helped me to better understand single sourcing, multi channel
authoring and publishing, and enterprise content strategy. Maybe the Admin
Assistant can help to identify and catalogue the content assets. But I
would push off any specialized authoring to the developers to at least get
their working notes into a system where you can edit and recast.

It's a lot of work, and requires more thought than just writing topics. But
there is something to be said about making a single change that affects
multiple documents.

Truth to be told, I know a lot of skilled technical writers who don't use
Word properly, or understand how to structure documents for multiple uses.
Topic-based authoring escapes them. It might be easier to provide a
template for technical people to fill in the blanks, rather than train an
obviously disinterested secretary to understand the technical information
AND learn to write well.

-Tony
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References:
ANONYMOUS POST: Staffing with unskilled workers: From: INKtopia Admin
Re: ANONYMOUS POST: Staffing with unskilled workers: From: Keith Hood
Re: ANONYMOUS POST: Staffing with unskilled workers: From: Bill Swallow
RE: ANONYMOUS POST: Staffing with unskilled workers: From: McLauchlan, Kevin

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