Re: Are User Surveys the best approach for defining your au

Subject: Re: Are User Surveys the best approach for defining your au
From: Sue Heim <SUE -at- RIS -dot- RISINC -dot- COM>
Date: Thu, 2 Feb 1995 08:53:18 PST

Doug, the Data Librarian, writes:

> Actually, I think everybody in the development community should get this
> sort of "up close and personal" experience with their products, but
> management is usually even less willing to part with developers/engineers
> than they are to part with writers.

> If you can't get out among your users, at least spend some time working on
> the support line. Find out what frustrates people and what you have to do
> to talk around it. It's a substitute for a site visit the way TVP is a
> substitute for beef, but it's better than sitting back and making a guess,
> or relying on second-hand reports. Remember, a bad day doing is better
> than an good day theorizing.

I'm not sure how progressive our company is, or why this was started
in the first place, but we have what is known as an "Employee
Exchange" program here. Each person is required to "visit" all other
departments for as long as the other dept. deems necessary.
Depending on the level of "expertise" of the visitor, the visitor can
actually be doing hands-on stuff (since I already knew our products
inside and out, I actually sat in on tech support calls). You gain an
immeasurably different view of the rest of your company this way,
and it really does make the writing part of the job easier.

This, by the way, is required for *all* employees. No one is exempt,
not even management! The funny (or maybe not-so-funny) part was when
people visited my "department" (I'm the lone writer, so my dept is a
bit on the small side). Most folks had no clue as to what I did, or
how I did it! And they were very interested in finding out how I
became a tech writer.


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