Re: Who dreams up these things?

Subject: Re: Who dreams up these things?
From: "Tim Altom" <taltom -at- simplywritten -dot- com>
To: "TechDoc List" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Tue, 28 Sep 1999 07:16:34 -0500

Well gee, Andrew, Simply Written has been called in lots of times to fix
manuals that were "just written" too; many of them were meandering
excercises in amateurism. Somebody thumped his chest and proclaimed himself
able to write. The client didn't know the difference and hired him. Big
mistake. Expensive mistake. What engineer just tosses parts together? What
accountant just runs numbers and jots them down somewhere? What modern
programmer just sits down and starts coding? All professionals have a quiver
full of methods and methodologies to use. So do we. It may not be an issue
for small manuals, but for bigger jobs, the days of inkslinging are just
about over once the client finds out about the existence of good processes.

Damning all process writing is akin to damning all maps because some are
badly drawn. Still, the professional likes to have a map, even if it's not
necessarily perfect. Most processes have at their cores a particular
structure, which is often quite a step forward. Many practitioners are good
enough to concoct a new structure each time, for each manual. Others like
the comfort of knowing that they have a process in hand that will work for
the vast majority of cases.

Simply Written has, in fact, gotten projects precisely because we have our
own process, Clustar. Put alongside "just written" manuals, ours look
cleaner, more precise, more usable, more reusable, more easily maintained.

As the numbers of, and needs for, tech commers multiply, the need for
getting them rapidly into a productive groove becomes ever more important to
the companies that hire them. Once a company sees a successful
implementation of a process, it's often reluctant to go back to the vague
method "just write the damned thing", because that's uncontrolled and
capricious. Like a box of chocolates, you never know what you're going to
get. The product then depends utterly on the ability of a gifted
professional, rather than on something that businesses can count on
continuing beyond the lifespan of a particular contractor or employee. Our
clients like the predictability and reliability we can give them. And we can
produce their materials faster, too, making us more profitable. Clustar is
specifically designed for single source, for example, so we can often cut
costs in half.

Some companies, particularly startups, don't know the difference. But more
sophisticated companies agree with General Gordon R. Sullivan: "Hope is not
a method."

Tim Altom
Simply Written, Inc.
Featuring FrameMaker and the Clustar Method(TM)
"Better communication is a service to mankind."

>Why do you need a process to work? Can't you just do the job and go home?
>mean the universe seemed to function pretty well for 29.5 billion years
>CMM, RUP, GUP, DIP or any other acronyms. Can't you just write the manual?
>mean - how frickin' hard is it to write a manual. I'm a moron and I do it
>the time.

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