Re: Re: It doesn't look good for Tina the Tech Writer ... OK, this makes for a good segue

Subject: Re: Re: It doesn't look good for Tina the Tech Writer ... OK, this makes for a good segue
From: Helen OBoyle <hoboyle -at- gmail -dot- com>
To: Lin Sims <ljsims -dot- ml -at- gmail -dot- com>
Date: Wed, 19 Oct 2016 09:09:53 +1100

On Wed, Oct 19, 2016 at 6:39 AM, Lin Sims <ljsims -dot- ml -at- gmail -dot- com> wrote:

> We've recently had stories from William Sherman and Rick Lippincott about
> times when it turned out tech writers were not just important, they were
> critical to a company's successful completion of big-budget projects. I'm
> sure there's more out there.
>

Microsoft employed an army of tech writers to create the Windows protocol
documentation required for the EU and DOJ anti-trust settlements. The idea
was both to stop fines *and* to get the government to accept that the
company was committed to the openness required by the two settlement
decrees, to reduce the government's interest in further close oversight.

Companies tell you what's business critical by how they hire, what they
pay, how much exec time is spent interacting with your project, what the
bonuses look like when deadlines are met, and, sometimes, the level and
number of lawyers involved in the project. In all of these ways, Microsoft
indicated to our project that it was Pretty Darn Important in the scheme of
things.

Using less formal criteria, such as the company retaining a lawyer to
represent you personally (not as an agent of Microsoft) in case you require
it in the context of your work on the project, or a senior VP stopping the
meeting to ask for your input any time you looked skeptical during the
weekly status meeting, they communicated this as well.

It was an exciting project, and I made friends on it who'll be friends for
the rest of my life. I miss being on a "Whatever it takes to get this
done, tell us. You've got it," writing project, but I am happy without the
average 72 hour weeks and in July, 2006, a 390-hour month (with one
106-hour week).

Most of my work since then has been less business-critical; I'd guess that
execs know that the writers do useful things, but might not know exactly
what our contributions are. However, if you ask the *project teams*,
rather than company execs, they'll tell you that I am very useful in
helping their work products appear more polished, in producing conceptual
materials that (gee!) the trainers find to be very useful in explaining the
organisation of areas of the product, in finding bugs in the product by
using it in a different way than Test did before it gets sent out to
customer sites, etc.

Kind regards,

Helen.

On Wed, Oct 19, 2016 at 6:39 AM, Lin Sims <ljsims -dot- ml -at- gmail -dot- com> wrote:

> We've recently had stories from William Sherman and Rick Lippincott about
> times when it turned out tech writers were not just important, they were
> critical to a company's successful completion of big-budget projects. I'm
> sure there's more out there. (I wish I had one.)
>
> Quantifying our day-to-day value add, though, that's hard.
>
> I've taken to telling the designers who give me compliments to please pass
> them on to my boss. Thanks to corporate acquisitions and department
> rearrangements, I now work for the man who manages the designers instead of
> a consolidated technical communications department. It helps him learn what
> I do for his people, but it certainly isn't something you can attach a
> monetary value to.
>
> On Mon, Oct 17, 2016 at 4:55 PM, Keith Hood <bus -dot- write -at- gmail -dot- com> wrote:
>
> > <snip>
> >
> > What needs to happen is for someone to finally come up with a way to
> PROVE
> > that the tech writer's work adds value to the product. There has to be
> some
> > way to express it in numbers and show that the work really does bump up
> the
> > bottom line on the quarterly report. Until that happens, certifications
> may
> > be useful in grading applicants for hiring decisions, but they will be
> > meaningless to retention.
> >
> >
>
> --
> Lin Sims
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Follow-Ups:

References:
Re: Re: It doesn't look good for Tina the Tech Writer ... OK, this makes for a good segue: From: Vincent
Re: Re: It doesn't look good for Tina the Tech Writer ... OK, this makes for a good segue: From: Keith Hood
Re: Re: It doesn't look good for Tina the Tech Writer ... OK, this makes for a good segue: From: Lin Sims

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