Re: What would you do?

Subject: Re: What would you do?
From: "Wing, Michael J" <mjwing -at- INGR -dot- COM>
Date: Tue, 30 Jul 1996 14:00:02 -0500

Too bad this contractor's literature contains such glaring errors. Had
they been offering some service other than technical writing it probably
would not receive the same scrutiny. However, I can't let this thread
die until I throw a couple of curve balls.

Curve #1

Let's suppose that your company has to quickly turn out written and
on-line documentation for a telecommunications product. Because of the
time and money restrictions you cannot hire additional personnel nor can
you retrain your existing personnel. Therefore, you need to hire
outside contractors.

A number of TW service portfolios have hit your desk. After quickly
scanning the literature, you toss out the contractor A's literature
because of the reasons cited before and decide on contractor B's
services (mistake-free and attractive marketing literature). However,
had you talked with each of the contractors you may have found out that
contractor A had experience with telecommunication products (maybe even
employed some telecommunications experts) and they know all the software
tools you use to produce the documentation.

As it turns out, contractor B had problems with assimilating and
transcribing the information. This resulted in writing (and rewriting)
that was much slower, albeit punctuated well, than the writing would
have progressed with contractor A (and still no assurances that
Contractor B is technically correct - which frustrates a user much more
than periods in a fragmented bulleted list). In this case, it may have
been better to hire Contractor A and put your editor on overtime (maybe
a bounty for each typo found).

Curve #2

You contact the TW contractor with the sloppy marketing literature and
make them aware of their mistakes. After interviewing them and
investigating their work you discover that their services are as sloppy
as their brochure and that they offer no technical additional expertise
than do other TW contractors. However, due to your suggestions, they
fix their marketing literature and thus pull in clients who otherwise
would have questioned their qualifications (due to a now possessing a
well-written and attractive brochure).

Mike Wing

_/ Michael Wing
_/ Principal Technical Writer
_/ Jupiter Customization and Educational Services
_/ Intergraph Corporation
_/ 730-7250
_/ mjwing -at- ingr -dot- com

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