Common/Difficult Problems

Subject: Common/Difficult Problems
From: Steve English <ink -at- MICROS -dot- COM>
Date: Tue, 28 Feb 1995 15:51:33 -0500

Herman writes:

> I am interested in starting a thread here of the most common and
> most difficult problems tech writers encounter and must overcome

My most difficult problem is with communication. I am habitually not-informed
of decisions and changes that directly affect my ability to do my job. My
problem is not with the engineers or with the testing department-- these
people have a formal mechanism in place to announce product changes, and are
really great about keeping me and the other writers up to date on developments.

The problem is with their respective managers, who seem incapabable of the
following thought: "Gee, if we're going to change that [schedule, feature,
market, decision, whatever], somebody ought to tell Documentation." I find
out about a lot of things after the fact. Sometimes WAY after the fact.

I tried broaching this subject diplomatically with the people involved, and
got nowhere. One of the managers, with whom I thought I had a good working
relationship, immediately became angry and defensive, making me think that
a) they were already aware of this deficiency and b) nothing was going to be
done about it.

I've wasted entire days writing descriptions of features that no longer exist.
I've worked late and skipped lunches to finish documentation in a rush because
a product release date was moved up and nobody bothered to mention it. I'm
not doing that any more.

I have reluctantly come to the conclusion that in order for these problems to
be addressed, I will have to go over their heads to the director. I would
prefer to avoid this, because up until now we have enjoyed a pretty congenial
atmosphere here, but I really don't know what else to do.

Just venting. You asked.

Steve English
ink -at- micros -dot- com


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