Re: Getting information

Subject: Re: Getting information
From: Michele Marques <mmarques -at- CMS400 -dot- COM>
Date: Tue, 23 Mar 1999 14:27:46 -0500

Ben Kovitz <apteryx -at- CHISP -dot- NET> asks about when to "play dumb" and how to get information, not only about the program screens but also about the process/task the user is attempting to accomplish while using the program.

Several people have posted some good suggestions for interviewing and developing better relations with the programmers. I have a few additional suggestions.

(1) Limit your questions to information you need (or find useful). Sometimes you don't really need to know everything about the task associated with part of the program. For example, I usually ask very few questions of programmers when documenting new reports. Also, as some parts of the program can apply to many different tasks (e.g. many aspects of Order Entry are the same no matter what is being sold), in which case you don't necessarily have to learn much about the particular task (e.g., knowing that you can have seasonal items and a good example without knowing all examples or why those particular items are sold seasonally).

(2) Find other sources of getting information. For example, I have sat in on much of the training that Support and Training go through, which not only taught me about our products, but gave me a better idea of how they are used in the field. If I am trying to get reasonable information in my sample database to get a report, I may ask someone in Support where to input the information or what types of information are typical.

(3) Do favours for those people who you'll be hounding for information! If you're willing to interrupt your busy schedule to scan some customer logos for a programmer, or to edit a document from the help desk, these people might be willing to interrupt their schedules to answer your questions. Even helping out people who can't answer your questions (e.g, marketing) builds your reputation as a "giver" and not just a "taker".

Michele Marques
Technical Writer, CMS Manufacturing
mmarques -at- cms400 -dot- com
905-477-4499 x280

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