Re: Non-technical, Technical Writers

Subject: Re: Non-technical, Technical Writers
From: Elna Tymes <etymes -at- LTS -dot- COM>
Date: Wed, 6 May 1998 12:14:17 -0700

Andrew-

OK, you've had your fume for the day. NOW can your messages be a little
more reasonable and professional?

If you go back and reread your original message (and I did), the
question you REasked was buried in the third paragraph, and seemed to be
only part of an overall dilemma. 'What do you do about a non-technical
technical writer?' didn't appear to have the immediacy your re-post now
has. So don't jump on us for taking the entire message into context.

What I've done with someone who fusses with templates rather than
exhibiting technical knowledge, or at least the ability to learn it, is
to gently call them on it by pointing out that presentation is not as
important up front as is getting a grasp on the technology. Granted,
some managers like to see a "pretty" example of what you're doing. And
granted, when you get down to deadlines, sometimes the managers prefer
pretty templates and nice-looking pages to real content.

As a project manager, it's important that the people on my projects
truly contribute to getting things done. If I have to cover for their
inabilities, I'd better have a good reason for doing so, one that can be
justified by the way I've billed the client.

I've also found that it really helps to be willing to fire someone when
it becomes obvious that they've overstated their technical abilities and
are simply not producing what you want. That's one of the benefits of
working on contract - if you have a sub who's not doing what you need,
you can part company quickly, if not exactly painlessly.

However, that sword has two edges - "lack of technical competence" is
broad enough that it can be used, for instance, to terminate someone
who, in attempting to meet the objectives of the project, has revealed
some fatal flaws that the developers didn't want to admit.

Elna Tymes
Los Trancos Systems




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