Re: FWD: Personnel and Quality of Printed Manuals

Subject: Re: FWD: Personnel and Quality of Printed Manuals
From: Dick Margulis <ampersandvirgule -at- WORLDNET -dot- ATT -dot- NET>
Date: Mon, 23 Mar 1998 15:35:00 -0500

Dear Name Withheld,

While I share your pain (in fact I think I used to work at the same
company--or one of the many others that fit the description), my advice
is this: If you need to keep the job, let the issue go. Otherwise, it
will shortly become moot as far as you are concerned. No one other than
you and me ever cared what the manuals look like and now you're the only
one left. The fact that you know what's best for the company better than
management and the rest of the long-time employees do means that they
really do not want to hear it from you. So update your resume and get
ready to hit the bricks.

Name withheld upon request wrote:

> *************************************************
> 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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