Re: What do we need before passing GO...

Subject: Re: What do we need before passing GO...
From: Kris Olberg <KJOlberg -at- AOL -dot- COM>
Date: Thu, 7 Dec 1995 12:19:03 -0500

In a message dated 95-12-06 21:16:09 EST, 103021 -dot- 2307 -at- COMPUSERVE -dot- COM (Marcia
B. Reynolds) writes:

>HELP!! SOS!! I would like to attend this meeting with some specifics on
>other companies require their engineering departments to provide, prior to
>tech writer starting the documentation. Any information would be greatly

You should get:

* product logical and physical design documents or something similar. These
documents will tell you of WHAT the product is constructed and HOW it works.
* copies of drawings (if hardware is involved)
* prototypes of hardware or software

In addition:

* get the business requirements documents if they exist. These are typically
written by business analysts (or marketing). They spell out the reasons WHY
the product is being created.
* if you are writing about hardware, be prepared to go into the shop
frequently to take your own photos. Don't rely on engineers to take pictures
for you.
* set up REGULAR meetings with the engineers or other SMEs. These could be
daily, weekly, or monthly.

It almost sounds like your company is new or your writing area is new to the
company, and very few (if any) of you understand the writer/SME connection.
One word of advice: stress to the powers that be that just because you have
received "everything you need" doesn't mean that you will never need to talk
to the engineers/SMEs again or ask for something more. I've seen this happen
time and time again in new companies. Good documentation necessitates a
strong writer/SME relationship with frequent communication. Discuss your
expectations/assumptions of how much time you will need from them up front.
(I'd ask for 10 to 25% of their time depending on the complexity of the
product, the quality of their design documents, and other important factors.)

Good luck!

kjolberg -at- aol -dot- com
kjolberg -at- ix -dot- netcom -dot- com
102031 -dot- 3556 -at- compuserve -dot- com

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