Re: Reporting Structure for Writers in Large Corporations

Subject: Re: Reporting Structure for Writers in Large Corporations
From: Jay Mead <jlmead -at- OURAY -dot- CUDENVER -dot- EDU>
Date: Tue, 11 Mar 1997 12:50:52 -0700

On Tue, 11 Mar 1997, Petrick, Emily N wrote:

> As a technical writer/communicator, do you report to someone who
> specializes in DOCUMENTATION, or do you report to someone who is
> responsible for PRODUCT DEVELOPMENT?

I've been in both situations in the last couple of years. Here are some
thoughts on each:

Reporting to Product Development:
Advantages--If your mgr is good and recognizes your worth, you can be an
integral part of development, much like an engineer, with lots of access
to information and input into the product. Satisfying and fun.
Disadvantages--If your mgr ain't so good, you might be seen simply as
clerical support, spell-checking the engineers' work, making it look
pretty. I'll bet this happens more often than not for writers working
under Development.

Reporting to a Documentation Manager:
Advantages--He/she is much more likely to understand the importance of
what you're doing; you'll be in a supportive environment (working under
Development can get pretty lonely).
Disadvantages: Similar to Development disadvantages; your department
might be seen as simply support (like the clerical staff), rather than as
an integral part of product development.

In sum, look carefully at the attitudes toward tech docs in your company.
If Prod Dev is receptive to your work, and you think you can work with
them and get the respect you need, this can be very good. However, if the
company is less respectful of your work, it might be better to work under
a documentation mgr who can fight for recognition and respect for the
whole department.

This is a lot of "ifs," of course; we rarely have these kind of choices...

Jay Mead
Galileo International
jay -dot- mead -at- den -dot- galileo -dot- com

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