Tech writing situation

Subject: Tech writing situation
From: Emily Cotlier <Emily_Cotlier -at- cardlink -dot- co -dot- nz>
To: "'TECHWR-L digest'" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Mon, 17 Jul 2000 14:27:54 +1200

I'm dealing with a very annoying tech writing situation here, and I wanted
to get some perspective on it. The three players are: me (tech writer w/MS
and 2+ years solid experience at the company), a newish international
marketing guy (with our company 3 months), and our CEO. The location is a
small software company.

CEO has asked New Marketing Guy to put together an extensive technical
document to be distributed as a manual to our program users, with lots of
information about file exchange formats, FTP servers, point of sale devices,
and recommended programs for converting paper applications into batch files
of applicant information. The goal of this document is to allow our program
users and any related companies they're working with an idea of how to set
up all their related IT/file exchange requirements.

New Marketing Guy asked me, the company's lone tech writer and his informal
business-writing mentor, for help. I looked over the document requirements
and came to the conclusion that New Marketing Guy didn't have the skills to
put it together. I know this because New Marketing Guy needed to be helped
with basic-level business-letter writing and is currently struggling with
proposals --he's planning to take a business writing course, he's a smart
and decent guy, but CEO has requested this manual ASAP.

New Marketing Guy is realistic and pleasant when I tactfully wonder if
perhaps I should be managing the project ("because it's a technical manual
and I know you're so busy"). He's feeling very overwhelmed by this project
and has no idea where to begin. I give him some stuff to help him get
started and I hash out an outline for him. We both agree he will ask CEO to
reassign it to me with NMG's collaboration.

The CEO said he still wants this guy to manage the project "as a learning

Well. New Marketing Guy is even more overwhelmed. I'm pretty sure that
whatever New Marketing Guy produces in the way of this manual will require
extensive work from me before it's fit to go out to clients--he doesn't even
know where to start for research. And I'm ticked off because I feel dissed
as a technical writer. I feel that the CEO sees my skills as low-level and
interchangeable if he thinks New Marketing Guy can do my job.

Perspectives, please....

Emily Cotlier
Technical Writer

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