Re: Documentation Management?

Subject: Re: Documentation Management?
From: "Brooks, Steven (Jay)" <jsbrooks -at- INGR -dot- COM>
Date: Wed, 9 Apr 1997 13:32:49 -0500

>> Specifically, keeping track of changes that need to be made to
> documentation between reprints

In our dept (we write hw manuals and online help), we have a doc
coordinator that handles getting the hw manuals printed, stocked, and
associated with the correct product. The technical writers, however,
are the ones responsible for tracking hw changes and updating the docs
as needed. This works well because the writer is already familiar with
the product and knows the designers, goes to meetings, etc., and
generally stays in contact with the designers to ask "Has anything
changed recently?"

It would be better if the designers broadcast changes to us, so we could
determine which ones require updates to the docs. This doesn't often
happen, so we have to poll them ourselves.

>> figuring out how long documentation changes will take through the
>> various stages of development (writing, engineering reviews,
> translating, graphics, etc); helping to coordinate everyone involved.

Developing the docs is left to us writers also. If we run into
organizational problems, we discuss it with other in the dept and
engineers (yes, they sometimes have good ideas) to figure out the best
ways to present the info. If we have trouble with getting the info we
need (like critical engineering feedback), then we escalate to
management, but mostly everyone cooperates with us. It is very helpful
to have a manager who fights for you when called upon! We request
graphics from another dept within Engineering, or generate our own using
digital photos (and then editing them so they are usable in printed or
online form). As far as translating, we also submit that work to
another department if necessary.

This system works well, and gives us writers flexibility to do things in
our own manner, but we always meet our deadlines, and keep our doc set
consistent (look, feel, language, etc.).

Steve Brooks, Technical Writer
Intergraph Computer Systems
jsbrooks -at- ingr -dot- com


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