Re: Style Abuse in Word (was: Real World Advantages of Office / Word2007 and Windows 7)

Subject: Re: Style Abuse in Word (was: Real World Advantages of Office / Word2007 and Windows 7)
From: "William Sherman" <bsherman77 -at- embarqmail -dot- com>
To: <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Wed, 9 May 2012 09:34:15 -0400

Actually, I really wasn't correct on the software engineers wanting to do their own work in the manual. Many of them hated that they were tasked with the work. That partially explains the lousy work in Word that occurred because they didn't want to do it and they did it haphazardly.

The software engineering group had decided they wanted to do it. They had decided that the group would keep full control of the system and the information and that the tech writers would not get their hands on it. To write the manual, the tech writers would have to be granted access to the equipment and software and allotted time to use it and the software engineering group would have none of that.

I don't know how or why this came about, but it had occurred at least 10 years before I got there, maybe 15. And as the lowly tech writer with the least time in my department, I was not changing a business group. I'd have as much luck standing in a creek with a pot and bailing water to change its direction.

So the problem really was deep.

Some hated the job and did it poorly.
Some thought they were wonderful and had no clue as to how badly they wrote or how low their level of Word expertise was.
Some just didn't want tech writers in their turf.
Some just followed party line without a clue as to why it existed.
They refused to start the project until a week before deadline so that they could finalize software.

Several technical writers in my group told me to not get involved. Apparently, they had these same issues over the years, and they knew all about the creek and a pot.

The only way to change it was to go up about 4 or 5 levels of management, and frankly, guys that level really don't care but do get upset if some low level is upsetting the operation. And as long as they make money on the current operation, no one up there is going to change anything, even if it is inefficient.

It is kind of a study in why American business is in some of the ruts it is in and why we are hurting as a country.

I also had a big project in another business group that we supported. They had only been going about 6 months when they came to us for documentation, and had it all budgeted to be done in 30 days. When 30 days was past and we were only in draft status still, I began to change that group and laid down the law on how documentation would be handled if they wanted it done. I was in meetings, I had full access to the equipment and software, I was in the review process, and their budgeted time for documentation went up drastically. They drank the RoboHelp Kool Aid and thought this was all like turning on a light switch. But after I had changed things, we delivered on time and had sign off on each delivery with the first pass, something that 30 day debacle didn't get done in 120 days or in 4 passes. And that was the value management understood, on time and first pass sign off.

The ironic part is that one business group saw the value and another business group refused to even talk about such value.

----- Original Message ----- From: "James Leatherwood" <JLeatherwood -at- aflac -dot- com>
To: <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Sent: Wednesday, May 09, 2012 8:23 AM
Subject: Style Abuse in Word (was: Real World Advantages of Office / Word2007 and Windows 7)

(And no, the authors don't want to write their own docs, but I just got here 4 months ago, and there are 50 years of history and habit to overcome. Many of the authors don't even know there is a Tech Writer on staff yet.)

James Leatherwood

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Style Abuse in Word (was: Real World Advantages of Office / Word 2007 and Windows 7): From: James Leatherwood

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