RE: CBT tools and project management?

Subject: RE: CBT tools and project management?
From: Tom Johnson <johnsont -at- starcutter -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Mon, 12 Feb 2001 13:35:54 -0500

On Monday, February 12, 2001 12:26 PM, Andrew Plato wrote, in part:
> Lastly, there is the issue of perspective. It is often very helpful to
> outsiders, who have no stake in a company, to document the products.
> will have fresh perspectives and ideas. All too often, internal people
> very comfortable using the same trite expressions and tone. It can be
useful to
> outsource work to get new language into the environment.

In Andrew's post, he gave what is probably very sound advice. However,
there is one problem I've seen with outsourcing. Consultants frequently
offer good advice, perhaps even most of the time. But, without them having
a stake in the company, you do have to be careful to look at their advice
with a fair amount of skepticism and a "what if" attitude. There are those
who want to apply a method or technique that they feel is good for every
situation. A lot of times this is how they are most comfortable or
proficient at working. It may not be what is best for you. Be prepared for
some wrangling and explaining to them (the consultants) why their proposed
method would not work for you. You know your product and they don't. Their
solution may be ideal for software training, but if you need to train about
hardware, it might not work. Get them to really explain why one approach is
better than another. If they don't seem to realize who their customer is
and not listen to your input, I'd find someone else to work with.

I've seen situations where consultants just don't get it when you say you
don't want this whiz-bang technology used. They seem to think the people
who hired them are Luddites. Hopefully, the consultant you are working with
is open to two-way communication. If they are, you can learn something from
them and they will be better prepared to help you on the next go-around.

> I realize a lot of writers see the use of outsourced technical
publications as
> a threat to their job. I won't lie to you - it is. But understand the
reason is
> not necessarily because you write bad documents. There are some strong
> reasons why companies outsource work like training and documentation.

There are also good reasons to be careful who you work with.

> So, my suggestion, Emily, is get to know the outsourced freelancer and
> what he/she does. This person may be able to teach you how to do
training and
> then you can offer your services to your company in a cost effective way.


> Good luck.
> Andrew Plato

Tom Johnson
Technical Writer
Elk Rapids Engineering Div., Star Cutter Company

johnsont -at- starcutter -dot- com - work
thomasj -at- freeway -dot- net - personal

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