Re: Query--software doc writer's responsibilities

Subject: Re: Query--software doc writer's responsibilities
From: Sella Rush <SellaR -at- APPTECHSYS -dot- COM>
Date: Fri, 15 Nov 1996 12:51:08 -0800

Karl Hakkarainen writes:
>It's important that technical writers be treated as professionals. It's
equally important that we don't define ourselves so narrowly that we
define
ourselves into obscurity.<

and Win Day writes:

>Think of it this way -- no matter what your offical job description says,
you were really hired to improve your company's bottom line. Any task
that
needs doing is probably fair game.<

Personally, I'm discovering that these two statements are not mutually
conducive--at least in my situation.

I've recently started a new job with a small software company. They are
about to release their first general market product (after 3 years), so
you can imagine how stressed people are. I walked into the job with
some pretty good writing/documentation skills, but, like Win, was eager
to fill in where ever I was needed. That has included recruiting more
programmers (including maintaining a database, filing, and standard
responses), as well as some marketing work (other than writing) and
maintaining MS project files. My perspective echoed Win's: my future
depended on the success of the product, which couldn't happen unless the
programmers had the time to code. So I took on the jobs that I could do
to free them up.

Unfortunately, this has led directly to a lact of professional respect
from *some* programmers. One flat out requested me to do the
"secretarial" thing on a small task (compiling some data)--I replied
that I would be happy to do him the *favor* of taking care of it for
him. Another (potentially more serious) incident was when a senior
programmer suggested that my usefulness to the team was to do the
documentation tasks so that the programmers wouldn't have to. Meaning
that I have no intrinsic value of my own--that the programmers "can do
anything I can do better."

I'm not beating up on programmers here. That's only 2 perspectives in 5
(plus the team's non-programming boss who actually sees my writng skills
as a valuable asset). In many ways I feel at fault that I'm now in a
defensive position in terms of my reputation. Part of this, I'm sure,
is due to my reluctance to delegate administrative tasks to
administrative people--because I'm the new kid and didn't want to offend
by dumping on them. (Also, I often have extra time while I'm waiting
for tech reviews, etc.)

Now I'm wondering how to remedy the situation, because I fear the
attitude might spread. Is the only way to get professional respect to
refuse to do some jobs? Did I go too far in my willingness to pitch in
where ever needed? It seems like there's a fine line, which I've
apparently dug a trench through!

Basically, though, I'm just intensely irritated that my good intentions
are being taken advantage of.
++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
Sella Rush
Applied Technical Systems, Inc. (ATS)
Bremerton, Washington USA
Developers of the CCM Database


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