Re: Reorganization Question (long response)

Subject: Re: Reorganization Question (long response)
From: Dan Martillotti <danm -at- DEV -dot- TIVOLI -dot- COM>
Date: Thu, 5 Sep 1996 14:27:07 CDT

The original posting asked about how people worked under the development
team structure. I've worked in both environments (a pubs group and individual
development group) and thus far I've found the development team structure the
most challanging and satisfying.

There is the potential problem of working for a manager that was a developer andwho does not think highly of technical writers. This is not a problem, it is a
challenge. You now have the opportunity to PROVE that technical writers have
value. You get to PROVE that technical writers can make a difference. You
get to PROVE that not everyone can write as well as they think they can.

In addition, as you prove your worth to your boss and other team members,
you earn their respect. Once you've earned their respect, it is much easier
to get needed information and input from the developers. As a member of a
pubs group, you are simply an outsider who is wasting the developers valuable
time (perception).

As a respected member of a development team, you get the opportunity to
participate in other aspects of a project. Currently, my boss has asked me to
be the release manager for one of our products. This means that I have the
responsibilty of writing the release contents document as well as the schedules.
I now know first hand what is going to be in the release and when stuff is
actually happening. I am now on the *front-end* of the development cycle, not
the back-end. One of my co-workers has been asked to prototype a GUI using
Visual Basic. He has several good ideas that he is proposing and he has the
opportunity to learn VB at work. Many of his ideas will make it into the
final product. If we were members of a pubs department, these opportunities
would never have been offered to us.

Robert Palmondon added:
> In an ordinary company, with ordinary engineers with ordinary attitudes,
> Tech Pubs should be part of Marketing or (in some cases) Sales.
> In an extraordinary company, with the engineering team fully committed
> to making the company successful, supporting Sales, and satisfying
> the customer, reporting structure is less important.

I couldn't disagree more (sorry Robert). While marketing has a vested interest in what is discussed in the documentation, they should never control it. All
you would end up with would be a 200 page book of fluff. I think marketing
should have input and should review the material, but they should never
control the content.

Robert also added about the business of technical pubs:
> A decentralized each-development-team-does-its-own-thing approach causes
> document management chaos, which is bad for the company. It's one thing to
> assign writers to projects: it's quite another to eliminate all
> editorial, archiving, and maintenence functions, leaving the individual
> writer as the only organizational unit in Tech Pubs -- but that's what
> a lot of companies do.

This problem is easily solved. Its called cooperation and communication.
Whenever I'm working on a book, I make sure that other writers (in and out
of my development team) have the opportunity to review my work. We
constantly look for inconsistencies across the books and point them out.
In addition, we always try to communicate with each other. Each writer
has technical publishing responsibilities. For example, one person is the
keeper of the glossary terms, another group is working on a style guide,
another is working on usage guidelines, you get the picture. While this is
not perfect (it relies on everyone to be a good communicator), it allows
everyone to develop professionally and work responsibly with the other writers.

Just one development team member's perspective.

Dan Martillotti ******************
* * *
Tivoli Systems * * * *
(512)436-8359 * * * ** ** "The more that you read, the more
danm -at- tivoli -dot- com * * * * * * * things you will know. The more that
* * * * * you learn, the more places you'll go."
Class of '90 * - Dr. Seuss

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