Centralizing doc departments

Subject: Centralizing doc departments
From: Marcy Harbut <gethappy -at- EARTHLINK -dot- NET>
Date: Thu, 10 Dec 1998 12:16:49 -0800

I've checked the archives to see if this topic has been discussed
previously, but nothing came up. So, I would be grateful for any advice on
merging documentation departments into a central department.

- - -

I currently work for a rapidly growing Internet service provider in the
engineering department, known as Information Technology ("IT"). IT, which
is a subset of the Operations division, is concerned with keeping the
company's retail network up and running. Operations also includes MIS,
which oversees the company's internal network, Quality Assurance, and a few
other random departments comprised primarily of geeks. Each department is
responsible for producing its own documentation, so of course there is
quite a bit of duplication of efforts, differing styles, important projects
that are going undone because of lack of staffing, etc. Not to mention that
some of the other writers, I feel, are at a disadvantage because they're
lone writers who are fairly inexperienced, and they could benefit from
working with senior doc people.

Because of this, there has been some serious discussion with the Senior
Operations VP to integrate all of the doc people within Operations into a
centralized department. Given that my department's doc group is the largest
and most prominent in the division, the task of drawing up a proposal and
implementing the idea will fall on our shoulders (there's three of us right
now, with a fourth soon to be hired). I like the idea -- I feel there's
strength in numbers -- but I anticipate a lot resistance. Not necessarily
from the other documentation folk, but from their managers. Plus, there are
the questions of logistics and accountability -- to whom should they
report, and where should they sit? And finally, there's the problem of the
managers in each department disliking the idea of having to "share"
information -- everyone thinks "their" documents are so confidential, even
other departments shouldn't have access to them.

I feel there are solutions to these questions, but I hoping that some of
you seasoned professionals who have been through similar situations can
proffer some words of wisdom, and perhaps a different perspective.

Thanks in advance!

Marcy Harbut


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