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Subject:Re: Strategy for Getting Information From:Robert Plamondon <robert -at- PLAMONDON -dot- COM> Date:Thu, 18 Jul 1996 10:28:59 PDT
> * An computer application has been developed and needs to be
> documented. Documentation was an afterthought.
> * I do not have access to the application. It is live, meaning
> it is currently in use.
Now, why would this be? Possibly the greatest productivity sink in
technical writing is the time spent documenting something that doesn't
yet exist. Here you have an application that really exists, but you
have no access to it. Somebody's been reading too much Kafka.
> * One person has been assigned to be my resource person. This
> person knows who uses the application, what they use it for and
> can give me step-by-step procedures for the tasks.
> * The resource person's supervisor thinks we have already spent
> too much time discussing things (approx. 5 hours) and wants to
> see the documentation.
Okay. So you have a mystery application that you are not allowed to use,
and the person who gets to peek behind the curtain and tell you what he
sees is on the verge of being told not to do that anymore. I understand.
> Need advice on:
> * Does anybody have a strategy for quickly and efficiently
> getting information and writing the procedures that go in the
Yes. You need:
1. Full access to the product itself, including full-time access to a live
installation. Access to source code, design specs, meeting minutes, and
random scraps of paper is also very helpful. You really have to use
all the procedures yourself to be sure they are described
properly. Just watching someone else do them isn't the same. And
with a real installation, you can make your own screen captures, design
clean examples, and generally do a better job than you would with
a batch-oriented model, with some under-the-gun engineer doing all
2. Management buy-in. If some manager other than yours is in your way,
that's a management problem. Tell you manager that you need the
management problems dealt with.
Robert Plamondon, President/Managing Editor, High-Tech Technical Writing, Inc.
36475 Norton Creek Road * Blodgett * Oregon * 97326
robert -at- plamondon -dot- com * (541) 453-5841 * Fax: (541) 453-4139
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