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I am rushing to meet a deadline, and I'm on vacation for the next two weeks (I
hate when that happens!), so I won't contribute to this thread for a while.
However, I did want to make brief comments.
First, I appreciate the supportive mail I've received. It's nice to know
people take the time to write!
Second, there have been some statements defending or excusing outsourcing here,
but I think they fail to address the points I raised originally. Certainly it
is vital for upper management to have a bottom-line understanding and
appreciation for the value added by technical communicators (and thus I urge
everyone to pass along quantifiable data to Dr. JoAnn T. Hackos, who is
spearheading STC research in that area). But at my old company, it was *the
writing managers themselves* who told us that outsourcing would (A) save money
and (B) improve quality. Then they selected personnel to voluntarily resign
and be hired by an outsourcing firm (I am not making this up), for whom they
sat in the same offices, did the same work, and reported to the same managers (w
ho, my hand to God, expected to coordinate the work) but for lower
compensation. I can see how management might have thought they could achieve
Goal A, assuming the writers were house plants and thus unable to move; but to
this day the rationale for Goal B escapes me. (Announcing it to us was simply
putting the boot in, I feel.)
What is happening? In-house clients revolted against the idea that the
overhead would remain but the writers would leave, and several hired their
writers directly (in spite of our former managers' efforts to block it). The
one outsourcing firm to bid on the work, which thought it was getting
volunteers; was rudely surprised. It is not clear that the whole thing was
even legal; it was certainly not ethical.
By all accounts, the plan is not any kind of success. Technical documentation
has gone from a core competency of that company to a liability, and some of
our former leadership have gone to bigger and better things.
Steven Jong, Documentation Specialist ("Typo? What tpyo?")
Lightbridge, Inc, 281 Winter St., Waltham, MA 02154 USA
<jong -at- lightbridge -dot- com>, 617.672.4902 [voice], 617.890.2681 [FAX]