let SMEs edit?

Subject: let SMEs edit?
From: Miki Magyar <MDM0857 -at- MCDATA -dot- COM>
Date: Mon, 26 Aug 1996 12:50:55 -0600

Jane and Laura asked whether, and how, SMEs should be allowed to
edit electronic documents in progress.

In my last job, I had to do this all the time. Again, it was a case of the
SMEs being the only ones qualified to write about what their part of the
project could do, and it would have been dreadfully inefficient for me to
learn enough engineering (even if I'd wanted to - which I didn't!) to
competently document all the different products. So -

I created and kept the master document, based on the standard manual
template. At the beginning of product development, we settled on any
variations from the standard, and they got the most current version of
the template. As they filled in the blanks, I got their copy - electronically,
hard copy, ASCII text, sometimes just a note. I'd incorporate all the
changes, and give them a copy - electronic or paper, their preference.
However, if they edited the electronic version, I *required* that they mark
all changes with some easily searchable characters ($$$, &%&, for
example) at the beginning and end of each change. This was easy
enough so they actually did it, and I could search for just the changes.
For those who preferred doing it on hard copy, I asked that if they had a
lot of text to add, they key it in and give me the electronic text and an
indication of where it goes in the document. Much nicer than rev bars,
which most of us disliked. Besides, they often put in explanatory notes
that were more useful than their changed text.

That's one way to deal with it. I've found that if I approach them with the
idea that I'm trying to minimize the hassle for them by letting them do it the
way they want, they're willing to go along with things that also minimize
the hassle for me.

mikim -at- mcdata -dot- com

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