Re: Organizational Oddity

Subject: Re: Organizational Oddity
From: Penny Staples <pstaples -at- AIRWIRE -dot- COM>
Date: Thu, 19 Feb 1998 09:55:09 -0600

Debbie Stewart wrote

> I am the first and the only TW in an IS department of 63 other souls.
> are no existing infrastructures for
> documentation procedures or guidelines. I work in a Lotus Notes
> environment, which has centralized and accessible repository databases. I
> am less responsible for end user documentation than I am for developing
> infrastructure with: architecture standards, other standards,
> applications documenation, IS disaster recovery procedures, repository
> databases, distributed systems architecture, policies and procedures for
> the department, service level agreements, operations manuals, and etc.
> Can a single tech writer do all this?? How should I structure the areas
> that should be documented and what administrative tasks should a single
> writer perform?

This sounds like a lot for one writer to handle, if there are no existing
documents in place. You need to sit down with your boss and define
priorities, i.e., what things need to be done first? And what can wait
you get time? Define your role and the priorities carefully. Make sure
you and your boss come to the same understanding about what you
should be working on, and how quickly things will get done.

Also, try not to get trapped into performing tasks that could and should
be handled by clerical staff. For example, some developers may try to
hand you hand-written notes to type up for them -- ask them to put it
in a text file or get admin staff to input it. Then explain what you're
on. When I've run into this, it's usually been from developers who haven't
worked with a Tech Writer before, and aren't clear on what my role is
("she's a woman, she types, therefore...."). So far I've been able to
it without much trouble. There has to be some give and take, of course.

Best of luck,

Penny Staples
pstaples -at- airwire -dot- com

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