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I agree that a statement put that way is going to
raise some hackles. However...
We don't work in a vacuum, where nothing is important
except the documentation. There are a multitute of
factors that a manager must balance.
Using the quote...4 weeks for a mediocre doc and 4
months for a quality doc.
4 months is 400% longer than 4 weeks...4 times longer.
Let's say that a doc done in 4 weeks costs a company
$10,000 (costs...not you are paid). Does a quality
doc deserve a cost of $40,000?
What does the $30,000 get you that makes it possible
for the company to charge the customer that amount
plus other factors?
Also, is it an advantage to get the product into the
customer's hands 3 months faster...maybe beating a
competitor to the punch.
Does mediocre mean accurate but poorly formatted and
no index? Is $30k worth of index and graphics going to
make the customer happier than a product 5% lower in
Also...what isn't being done in the extra 3 months
that could get done with the time...an online help
system? A support web page? Less buggy application?
What detirmines what your best work is? Some of what I
consider my best work was an API manual that got done
in a way-too-short period of time and only got a C
rating when reviewed by a magazine...however, nobody
in the department thought I could get ANYTHING done in
the amount of time that I was given. However, the
customer had a document that at least gave them access
to a part of the application they might not have had.
At some point, we have to remember that our part is
not more important than most of the other parts of the
process...not less, but not much more, either.
> I suppose that in some sick sort of way, I'm
> "relieved" to hear that my
> experience is not unique.
> I recently got into a grudge match over the time
> line I'd established for a
> "Given the choice between a quality document that
> will take 4 months, and a mediocre one that will
> take 4 weeks, I'll choose the mediocre one *every
> I swear, I just about blew an artery when he said
> There is so little understanding of what our job
> entails...it's frustrating,
> plain and simple. I hate the fact that I am forced
John Posada, Merck Research Laboratories
Sr Technical Writer, WinHelp and html
(work) john_posada -at- merck -dot- com - 732-594-0873
(pers) jposada01 -at- yahoo -dot- com - 732-291-7811
"The art of creating software that is usable by individuals is a communication skill. It is not a programming skill."
--Bill Atkinson, creator of MacPaint and HyperCard
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