TechWhirl (TECHWR-L) is a resource for technical writing and technical communications professionals of all experience levels and in all industries to share their experiences and acquire information.
For two decades, technical communicators have turned to TechWhirl to ask and answer questions about the always-changing world of technical communications, such as tools, skills, career paths, methodologies, and emerging industries. The TechWhirl Archives and magazine, created for, by and about technical writers, offer a wealth of knowledge to everyone with an interest in any aspect of technical communications.
Subject:Re: Minimalist documentation From:"M. David Orr" <whitears -at- INTERACCESS -dot- COM> Date:Wed, 12 Feb 1997 11:20:38 -0600
Dan Roberts wrote:
> This sounds great - reducing a behemoth to 10% of itself - woof!
> I'll check out the web site, but I'd be curiouis to know how you
> determined what were the 'best paths' and what happened to the
> information about the other paths - where did it go?
We were brought in as a consulting group after a more traditional
approach of documenting everything and teaching everything had failed to
improve performance on the system. Documentation existed--a lot of
it--but people weren't using it and much non-standard use of the system
was occuring. The non-standard use had huge downstream impact both on
the system and on customer service.
Because we came in as consultants, we were able to talk to operations
people and users who really understood the problems and opportunities of
the system. They determined the best practices with our facilitation.
Our job was to reduce these to a form that was accessible to users.
I repeat that I believe a complete set of documentation is necessary,
but I question the value of the one-size-fits all manual. We prefer to
put topics and procedures in a database and use a software program we
have created to quickly assemble subsets of documentation for particular
audiences. With the use of templates in Word or other word processors
and possibly SGML markup, its easy to quickly assemble documents
targeted at particular user groups.
M. David Orr
Orr & Associates/Usability Management
7366 N. Lincoln Ave. Suite 101
Lincolnwood, Illinois 60646, USA
Email: whitears -at- orrnet -dot- com