SME story

Subject: SME story
From: Michelle Nichols/VENTANA <Michelle_Nichols/VENTANA -dot- ITP -at- LGATE -dot- VMEDIA -dot- COM>
Date: Tue, 25 Feb 1997 11:30:46 EDT

Melissa writes:
>Just out of curiosity, what do you guys do when you're
>faced with a difficult SME situation?

OK, I'll share my story. I once had great difficulty getting my team of
programmers to work with me on developing some reference information. The
programmers were getting pretty hard by management to get the Beta out the
door, but also getting conflicting requirements that they were to assist the
writers in producing the documentation.

I tried e-mail exchanges, visiting their office (they put me off every time),
setting up meetings with them (which they didn't show up to), mentioning in
status meetings that the information was behind because I haven't been able to
get with the programmers, etc. I was very flexible and positive throughout all
of these attempts to get with the SMEs.

Well, my "technical review" perioud came, so I decided to put the questions I
had directly into the information, print out a copy of what I was preparing,
deliver it to all of my SMEs (I had several), and see what came out. The
technical review was supposed to last 1 week. At the END of the week, the
programmers stood up in the status meeting (which I happend to miss because of
conflicting meetings) and said, "We're not going to waste our time reading
incomplete documentation. Why don't you just 'read the code' to get the
information you need." I was flabergasted when I heard about it later.

It was an awful mess that I don't think I ever recovered from. I actually had
a programmer sit down and show me how to read their code, their comments, etc.
and pull information into the documentation. It got the documentation
complete, but it never got a technical review.

When you have tried every trick in the book, but still cannot get the
information you need, what do you do?

Michelle Corbin Nichols

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