Re: Advice on User's Manual

Subject: Re: Advice on User's Manual
From: Kris Olberg <KJOlberg -at- AOL -dot- COM>
Date: Fri, 1 Dec 1995 14:57:15 -0500

In a message dated 95-11-30 20:06:11 EST, Crow101156 -at- AOL -dot- COM (Suzanne Pyle)

>Using engineering specs, the client wants a user's manual done in Microsoft
>Word. Currently I work onsite several days a week for another client and
>would only be
>able to devote so many hours a week to this project, (probably at night and
>weekends). My question involves using engineering specs to write the
>Have any of you done this before without actually using the
>And if you have, did you also interface with engineers for your questions ?

Unfortunately, having to write this way has been more the rule than the
exception for me. I've written from spec many times.

>My concern is that I can do this project *without* having to be onsite. I
>haven't actually seen the client yet or the specs/manual, etc.

Access to the engineers is the key to success. You cannot write from spec
without interacting with SMEs. Specs can range anywhere from one-page
descriptions (dismal) to very complete documents with everything you'll need.
Most of the time specs will be somewhere in between, providing you with
enough information to develop some specific questions about the missing

Before you get started, get a copy of the spec and determine what or how much
is missing. Make this known to the client up front, and develop a procedure
for interacting with the engineers that everyone can live with. What commonly
goes wrong is that you will ask for more of the engineer's time that they are
willing to give you. This is not good for your relationship with your client.
It's best to deal with this issue up front. Get the expectations/assumptions
on the table before things get ugly.

A word about working offsite... This arrangement WILL require you to work
harder. No question. Allow time to travel to the office at least once in
awhile, even if only to pick up materials at the front desk. Also,
face-to-face communication with the engineers is much more efficient than
telephone conversations, e-mail, or voice mail. Try to have regular,
face-to-face meetings with your SMEs. (I purposely don't specify frequency
here: make your meetings regular, whether they be daily, weekly, or monthly.)

Good luck!

kjolberg -at- aol -dot- com
kjolberg -at- ix -dot- netcom -dot- com
102031 -dot- 3554 -at- compuserve -dot- com

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