FWD: Personnel and Quality of Printed Manuals

Subject: FWD: Personnel and Quality of Printed Manuals
From: "Eric J. Ray" <ejray -at- RAYCOMM -dot- COM>
Date: Mon, 23 Mar 1998 05:34:46 -0700

Name withheld upon request. Please reply on list.


I?ve asked Eric to post this anonymously for reasons that will become
apparent as I describe my situation. I was hired by my company about 1 and
1/2 years ago to convert all the user manuals from WordPerfect to Microsoft
Word. In the process of the reformatting, I?ve spent many hours with the
engineers involved, and those who use the revised manuals agree they are
far better in content, appearance and usability.

The production process for manuals in this company is one in which I
produce the original pages, and the secretary makes double-sided Xerox
copies of manuals on an as-needed basis (for customer orders).

My predicament: There?s a not-exactly-new secretary on board. She left the
company about a year ago, after having worked here for about 6 years. Now
she's back. Personality-wise, she?s a tough cookie: sharp-tongued, bossy,
puts everyone in their place. About 2 weeks ago, she made a mess of a
manual I had just revised, doing it ?her? way. When I received my copy of
that particular manual, I saw the problems, and pointed them out to her in
a diplomatic way (being aware of her personality). Her response was an
arrogant cluck of the tongue, implying it wasn?t really that important.
She?s doing things the ?old, WordPerfect? way, and so far hasn?t been
willing to sit with me and go over the new manual format.

I then went to the quality assurance and production people, who could
implement a quality check of the manuals before they are shipped out to
customers. After trying to ignore me and the issue, they finally agreed
that it is a problem, but now that ?this secretary? is back, things should
shape up soon. I mentioned it was this very secretary who messed up the
last batch. They stared at me in silence, seemingly unable to believe this
secretary could have made a mistake. This secretary is very intimidating,
and she seems to have a lot of people under her spell. I hung in there, and
finally the production manager grudgingly agreed to give one of his
production workers the task of checking the quality of manuals before they
go out. This worker is not an English speaker (the manuals are in English),
and not particularly DTP savvy. I don?t feel reassured.

This morning, after discussing the situation with a coworker who has a good
relationship with this secretary, he told me the manuals simply are not a
priority, and that she is busy with billing, invoices, etc.

This situation has me angry and frustrated. I work very hard on the
manuals, and now I have no assurance that the final product sent to
customers is top quality nor reflects the beauty of the design of the
manual. I also feel an undercurrent among the staff that the manuals are
unimportant, or certainly not a priority. I realize there?s a personality
issue involved, but I?m willing to put all that aside for getting the focus
on to production of high quality manuals.

By the way, there?s been some talk of having the manuals printed at an
outside source, i.e. a printer. I researched this option a couple times,
and management didn?t follow through. I don?t understand why the company
hired a full-time in-house technical writer, then doesn?t support me in a
way that promotes the best possible product.

I?d appreciate any suggestions, advice. Thanks.

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