Re: FWD: Personnel and Quality of Printed Manuals

Subject: Re: FWD: Personnel and Quality of Printed Manuals
From: Smokey L Bare <slbare -at- JUNO -dot- COM>
Date: Mon, 23 Mar 1998 10:15:28 -0500

For your consideration:

...or....perhaps the writing is really on the cave wall in this scenario.

1) Known variable - you definitely care about your work production and
QA efforts in your job, which is very admirable. Document it!
2) You have completed the correct steps in reporting the issues at hand
regarding the project. Document it!
3) To proceed you should recognize several employee-direct issues (from
past experience working on similar projects with similar circumstances as
a consultant):

- you have fulfilled your obligation to the project task - you converted
the manuals to Word from WordPerfect. Get a sign-off and document it.

- from what you wrote, you do not 'own' the production and distribution
of these manuals, nor their QA (unless stated in your task assignment),

- you have followed the processes in reporting concerns to your direct,
now let the direct make the decision as to how it is to be handled
(document it). You have done your part here. If there are problems in
the following processes, it is the responsibility of the 'owning'
project/product manager to address it. If you are that person, then you
drive your 'documented' issues to the next level. If you are not, you
will have an uphill battle. From your own words you have stated three
various associates have mentioned to you that it does not rank high in
priority. This should tell you something about your work environment.
You know how to make the process better, they have (for whatever reason)
decided not to follow up on your input.

- so it is time to decide, will this environment be nurturing to your
career development...or when customers complain (which at your level,
marketing may not pass on to you), are you going to be the responsible
party left holding the bag. Pick your career battles very, very
carefully. Someday at a different firm, you may end up working with some
of these associates again.

- bottom line, it sounds as though the 'ownership' of the total end
product is not your responsibility, so..document the issues, and move
on...

Now...when another assignment comes up, in your team/direct planning
session, bring up critical cross-impact issues (which you had documented
from other projects). Let that management group make the call as to how
they want to handle them. Keep in mind, IT DOES NOT MEAN their decisions
will always be the best, but it has been stated how you feel, what the
critical issues were, and how the 'owners' handled it.

Go back to your drawing board, keep a project diary, and when it comes
time for your review, discuss these issues with your direct. Explain how
you found the critical issues, provide the cross-impact concerns, the
processes you followed to address the issues, their results, and going
FORWARD..., how are future project problems, such as these, going to be
handled. Document the decisions and provide a copy to your direct. So
when you have issues again, you have a documented basis from which to
address your concerns.

Re-read what you wrote, jot down the person you discussed it with, and
the responses....I think you answered your own question. Your input has
no impact at this stage of the project. Now, the decision is your's to
make.

If I were in your role, I would ask my direct to let me 'own' the total
production process (time permitting) for the final product (including
MACs [moves, adds, changes]), and let someone else own the distribution.
Then your problems should minimize...notice I did not say go away...just
minimize. Go to your direct, and ask for a DOCUMENTED statement as to
what the corporate look should be (from a company style guide perhaps),
and what word processing software tool is to be used. Get the directive
from someone ELSE, show it to the secretary. If she does not follow
those guidelines, then the problem is her lack of cooperation, not
your's.

Most importantly, keep a daily, paragraph-or-two diary of your work and
critical issues. I'm curious...did management ask you to research the
outsourcing aspect? If you took it on yourself to do this, be careful.
Being a soul project person (from my management view) can be very sticky
at times. Bottom line, how much impact do non-cooperative people have on
your END DELIVERABLE. Discuss it with your direct, and have your direct
respond in writing acknowledging these issues.

Focus on your personal growth development...find books on working with
difficult people...and let go of some issues which you don't 'own', or
you will have a cross-impact issue on your health. Just keep a
documented record of how you could make this process better....makes for
wonderful interviewing information.

When issues like this happen for me, I make a nice table chart of issues.
Makes it easier for management/directs to read. When the project is
done, I fill in the final product outcome, and go to town on what all the
problematic cross-impact issues were in the form of 'verbs and BOLDED
objects'. Good luck. Never let the wild turkeys get you down, just
document their actions for the hunters.

live from the bare's den,

Smokey

==================================================

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?is 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?is 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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