Training & manuals with product roll-out

Subject: Training & manuals with product roll-out
From: Tim Lewis <TLewis123 -at- AOL -dot- COM>
Date: Wed, 1 Nov 1995 16:50:14 -0500

Because we have similar occupations, I would like to post a question to
techwriters who work in a corporate environment about having completed
documentation at the time of product roll-out.

I'm a writer/producer/director of corporate videos, mostly training. I've
always struggled with those who expected me to produce a video on a product
that is still in development but want the training video completed upon
release of the product. During development, the documentation is in a
preliminary stage and cannot be relied on as factual or accurate. Much of the
time, technical experts are too busy to show the product or tell me about it.
So I often have to wait for the Training Center to learn the product, teach
it to me, and finally I write the script. The training videos often come out
months after product release. The training department and I have always
maintained that we cannot write about something that is not completely or
correctly documented. I've tried to involve the technical experts (mostly
engineers) and sales and marketing people but they never have enough time to
tell me the information that I need. Nor do they have the time to write
anything down. We would like to change all this process so that everything is
ready when the product is.

So, my questions are:
1. How do you gather enough information to create manuals and/or training
materials so that it can be released with the product?
2. Do you start writing what you know, as soon as you learn about the
project, perhaps from technical specification sheets, or interviews with
3. Are you involved in the project early on?

As I think about this, maybe I need to educate my *future* clients about the
video production process. I've seen some interesting postings here lately
about that subject. In other words, I should insist that technical experts
(engineers) be available to give me the information that I need as they know
it. They should regard me as part of their team. Is this one of my solutions?

Do you have any suggestions? You can E-mail me directly and I'll post a
summary here.

Tim Lewis
TLewis123 -at- aol -dot- com

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