Re: Standards, getting stuff done, and generally frustrating situation

Subject: Re: Standards, getting stuff done, and generally frustrating situation
From: Sybille Sterk <sybille -at- BOFFIN -dot- BEYOND2000 -dot- CO -dot- UK>
Date: Fri, 5 Feb 1999 08:20:59 +0000

Oh Dear... This sounds like me when I started my last job. It wasn't quite
as bad, but almost.

Every sensible person should be able to see you can't do 61 documents all
by yourself, at least not within this time limit.

First, I would try to talk to your Quake-playing team members and tell them
to get their "arse off the ground" and start working. Tell them nicely and
then tell them, if it won't happen you will have to write a memo to the
boss about it. You might even want to write the memo beforehand and show
them if they get nasty.

Sorry, I am not usually suggesting anybody should go telling, but obviously
your "team?" members have not much respect for the team. There's not much
else you can do but tell the boss. Try and write down every time you've
asked them to do something and they declined or just went on playing Quake.
Make a nice list and present it as proof.

I would also write down the work load you have and time estimates for how
long it will take a single person. Put on this list also the delay which
would occur if you had to change all those documents to comply to the
standards, when (!) they finally are created.

The last thing I would do is create a standard template for the end-user
documentation and get it signed off by the boss. Say you can't wait any
longer, not if he wants any documentation at all. Give the Standards-team a
copy of this, too. Make it clear, that if the boss tells you to make up
your own standards that is what you do and that's what everybody else will
have to live with it then. If they don't like it, their problem, not yours.

I agree entirely that end-user documentation is completely different than
documentation for techies. Make it clear to everybody else. I think there
are some essays on this topic on the web. Try and find them to present your
case.

Last of all, do not despair. You have worked in documentation for two
years, you should be able to get a job quite quickly on this experience
alone. You might even agree to work for this company permanently (for as
long as it suits you and until you found a job you like better) - you can
use this to do evening classes on technical authoring... After getting your
certificate the world will be your oyster as they say.

Very important: DO NOT DESPAIR!!!! Live's too short, you want to survive it
so you can enjoy death! ;-)


Good luck,

Sybille





>I am doing documentation (as one facet of my position) in a place where

>"standards" are nonexistent. There is a committee trying to create them,
>but ?
>They're setting standards for technical install/config docs - I do
>end-user stuff
>The person in charge of install/config docs (written for techies) thinks
>the user docs should be laid out and worded the same way. (our users are
>VERY uninformed and tech-scared)
>My boss has no idea of what goes into writing tech docs
>I am constantly duplicating work (there a re currently 5 people doing
>Outlook FAQ web pages - none of us are communicating with the others,
>and I meet resistance when I suggest it
>The "nice" people I work with often spend their day playing Quake on
>their laptops
>I am now working on 61 documents, and can't seem to get any help to
>finish them
>I can't finish the docs until I get a standard template
>On top of all of this stuff I do documentation-wise, I also do desktop
>support, and a little training
>I end up getting extra work because I am so good at the documentation
>stuff, that I get procedures to do, as well as things like phone lists,
>etc.
>
>I have brought this up before, to no avail. My boss keeps saying "set
>your own standards", but every document I do has to be approved by the
>"standards committee". (I've already had a major altercation with the
>"standards guru"). I have asked my "team" for help, but 2 members are
>just as busy as me, and the other 2 are consultants for our contracting
>firm, so they think they can play Quake all day.
>
>I am at my wit's end. I am concerned that when my contract ends, I will
>get a terrible reference because the projects aren't done. I am
>concerned that they will want to hire me full-time (they've been hinting
>about it). I am concerned that they won't hire me full-time, and then
>I'll have a crappy reference, no new job, and no job prospects.
>
>I am not a Technical Writer. I have no TW degree, and have had no actual
>job where my function has been TW; I have just fallen into that role,
>and have been writing procedures, etc. for about 2 years. I am worried
>that if I try to get into the TW filed after this nightmare is over, I
>won't get a job, and I'll have to go back to "Systems Support Analyst",
>which I am trying to get out of. (That's why I've taken on jobs with a
>TW focus).
>
>Any comments, suggestions, etc. would really help me. I feel like I'm
>getting walked on, but I don't know if it's worth trying to stop,
>because my contract will be up in about 1 1/2 months. Is it worth it?
>
>Signed,
>In a bit of a kafuffle

>
>^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
>Message forwarded on request. Please reply on list.
>
>
>===========================================================================
>

Sybille Sterk
Technical Author and Translator (German)
email: sybille -at- boffin -dot- beyond2000 -dot- co -dot- uk


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