Re: TW role in Y2K issues

Subject: Re: TW role in Y2K issues
From: Phillip Wilkerson <phillipw -at- ALLENSYSGROUP -dot- COM>
Date: Wed, 7 May 1997 11:31:48 -0400

Mary Howe <thunder -at- IDIR -dot- NET> asked about Year 200 issues:

> What do you think is the role of the tech writer in this issue?

Tech writers at *any* company need to take a proactive role in helping their
company work with this issue. If the hardware or software is going to be
affected, the docs will likewise be affected. Rather than wait until 1999 to
start working on these projects, tech writers can start reading through the doc
libraries for which they are responsible, looking for possible Y2K issues or
working with developers who are already working on Y2K issues to ferret out all
the possible hiding places the problem may be lurking. If you have any dates in
your programs or books (e.g., in sample reports, report generating software,
screen shots, etc.,) decisions will have to be made about whether to update.

> Are any of you actively working on Y2K issues?

Yes. We publish 15 or so utilities packages for IBM mainframe sites using
CA-IDMS, as well as data entry programs and JCL programs. All these programs
are affected, so we have lots of Y2K-related work to do. Granted, some of it is
pretty nit-picky, but it must be done nonetheless and the associated docs are
getting updated. Our customers ask a lot of questions about how we are handling
Y2K, and we formulated a direction statement for the salespeople.

> Is this going to mean any new work for tech writers? (No, I'm not
> looking for a job, I'm just interested.)

Maybe not a lot of new work, but lots of updating, doc maintenance work is
ahead. Might be a field day for contract technical writers.
Fortunately, our company is well aware of Y2K issues, and we have already
started modifying our programs and documentation.

> And have any of you experienced problems already?

Just the usual frustrations involved in dealing with contingencies as they
arise. If companies are waiting until '98 or '99 to start dealing with issue,
their tech writers might get a real backlash from it. I'd say to any tech
writer: "Find out *today* what your company's position is on the Y2K issue."

Phillip C. Wilkerson
Manager of Technical Communications
Allen Systems Group, Inc.
Naples, FL
phillipw -at- allensysgroup -dot- com

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