Re: SMEs

Subject: Re: SMEs
From: Chris Kowalchuk <chris -at- BDK -dot- NET>
Date: Thu, 27 May 1999 19:02:44 -0400

Re: convincing department heads that their employee's time is well spent
reviewing and editing company documentation:

Put it in a plan. Show how a part of the SME's time is required in the
grand overall scheme of document production. Be careful about defining
your terms, and the exact job you want the SME to do. Certainly the SME
should review the particular part of the documentation that pertains to
his or her area of expertise, and it should be positioned as a review to
ensure technical accuracy. Asking the SME to review/edit beyond that
does strike me as a potential waste of time/resources that would be
better used elsewhere. Now, if you are talking about a SME reviewing
existing documentation because only the SME can tell if it is out of
date etc., then that's a different story, and you probably need some
kind of periodic review process that nobody is too willing to buy into,
because it implies regular, ongoing work that has not been budgeted for.

In the latter case, your plan will have to be more convincing, but
really I don't know how to help you. When trying to implement that sort
of process, I've only ever run into implacable (albeit good natured)
resistance. It wasn't going to happen.

In the case of preparing a manual, or the initial writing of
documentation, however, when positioned within the above limitations,
the need for SME review should be glaringly obvious. It's also a
one-shot deal and doesn't represent a huge commitment on anyone's part.
You're documenting their baby--they want to make sure that the content
is accurate, and that the baby is healthy and well cared for. Most
managers/SMEs that I've worked for/with would insist upon at least a
cursory review for technical accuracy; in any event, I specify it in the
documentation plan/proposal right up front. In the planning stages it
makes pefect sense and no manger I've worked with would object to it.

I fear, however, that we may be talking about different environments or
situations, and if my comments have not been helpful, I apologise.

Chris Kowalchuk

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