Documentation seminar -Reply

Subject: Documentation seminar -Reply
From: Carol Van Natta <CVANNATT -at- ITC -dot- NRCS -dot- USDA -dot- GOV>
Date: Wed, 4 Mar 1998 06:42:25 -0700

Warren, I think you're putting the cart before the horse, as it
were. Your proposed seminar is about process, when it
sounds like you really ought to be first talking about value.

I'd also like to suggest that you get management involved,
because if they don't see the value (i.e., cost benefit) in
good-quality documentation, all the seminars in the world
won't change your situation. Right now, the company has it
easy -- they dump it on you and forget about it. You'll have to
come up with some fairly powerful reasons why they should
take on the extra work of planning, reviewing, etc.

You need to educate everyone on the benefits of
documentation (other than "users expect it" and "the
competition does it"). Do research on whether it reduces
service or support calls, or influences big-customer buying
decisions, or whatever. Once you've made your point and
gotten buy-in on the fact that good, planned documentation
is more profitable than rushed, error-prone documentation,
_then_ you can talk process and procedure.

>>> Warren Singer <Warren_Singer -at- VOCALTEC -dot- COM>
3/4/98 1:46 am >>>
After working for a few months at my new company I've
noticed a general
lack of awareness on the part of engineers as to the role and
importance of
documentation. This lack of awareness is expressed in
sketchy SRS's that
lack information, last-minute rush jobs to complete
documentation tasks,
failure to read existing documentation or devote the time
necessary to
provide feedback and lack of awareness of how to provide
feedback. In
light of this I decided it would be of benifit both to me and the
company
to "educate" R&D and program managers by providing a
forum for discussing
documentation issues.

I'm am organizing a documentation seminar that will be
presented to R&D
and program managers. The main objective of the seminar is
to raise
awareness of the importance of documentation in the
development cycle and
the role of the documentation/technical writing department in
this process.

I thought of approaching this seminar by focusing on 2-3
relvant topics
that would be of interest to R&D and would also help advance
the cause of
documentation. The one's I have in mind are:
- The documentation cycle - the purpose of this is to raise
awareness of
the importance of documentation in all stages of the product
design.
- The Review Process - this concerns how review is provided
to writers,
i.e how to provide feedback.
- Mapping the communication network - looking at how
decision making and
product information is communicated through the various
departments and
sub-departments. The goal of this is to situate the
documentation
department within this decision-making tree and look at ways
of
streamlining the communication process and storage of
information.
Does anyone have ideas or suggestions about what to
include in the seminar?
I'm really interested in getting as much feedback as possible
on this topic
and any suggestions will be appreciated.

Thanks,

Warren

___________________________________
Warren Singer
Design and Documentation Department
VocalTec Communications Ltd.
Tel.: +972-9-9707765 (direct)
Fax: +972-9-9561867
Email: warren -at- vocaltec -dot- com
___________________________________
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