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In my opinion, this is not such a radical idea. I think many Technical
Writers (true career tech. writers...) would love to take a job where they
could either use a variety of their talents, or else be in a position where
they could learn about different "branches" of Technical Writing.
I can't say exactly how many people you should add to "your department", but
I would definitely suggest multi-talented Technical Writers, as opposed to
experts in training, or tech. support.
As you interview candidates, try to find out if they would be good at doing
"other" things besides Technical Writing. It has been my experience that the
best career tech. writers are the ones who think it is obvious that we have
to be multi-talented.
Hope this helps. Good luck with your VP. Tell him we think your idea is better!!
At 09:43 AM 5/12/97 -0400, you wrote:
>I have a very interesting opportunity in front of me, and I have
>what may be a radical idea. I want to bounce this off the group
>to see what the positives and negatives are.
>I'm working for a small (~40 people) software company that is growing
>quite rapidly. Our current projections are to increase from 2 products
>to 4, and to increase staff to about 100 by the end of 1997. I am the
>sole tech writer, and I also have inherited the responsibilities for
>client training and technical support. The main reason I got those duties
>is that I'm the only one in the company who has done those job functions
>I was talking with the VP on Friday, and he wants me to expand "my
>department". Today, I think one additional person could handle the
>load with me, but what about by year's end? I can't accurately predict
>if two of us, or "X" of us is the right number. I'd rather err on the
>side of caution because I've seen several times what happens when a
>"department" makes grandiose predictions of how many people they'll
>need, hires them, and then discovers that they over-predicted and have
>to trim their workforce.
>The VP wants me to get a Tech Support person and a trainer. He is thinking
>along rather strict lines of job functions. My radical idea? Hire
>multi-talented tech writers and share the three functions between us. If
>the company grows larger, we can split up by job function then. However at
>this early stage, I get only a few support calls a week, and training
>comes in bursts. I can't see the logic of hiring dedicated people now,
>when their workload will be light.
>The other side of the coin is the TW mantra: Know your Audience.
>I figure the best way to know your audience is to meet them. First as
>their trainers, and secondly as their tech support rep. How many of us
>have moaned over being isolated from our audience. "Management would
>never send me or any other TW to a client site just so we could meet
>the clients first hand." I see this as the opportunity to bridge that
>gap and produce really first-rate documentation.
>So, hypothetically speaking, would you as a tech writer enjoy a job
>where you were doing technical writing, client training, and client
>technical support? If the company grows larger and the opportunity to
>split into separate disciplines arises, should we split and which
>discipline(s) would you want to work in?
>--- John Bell
> jbell -at- paragren -dot- com