Desiging your Documentation/Writing Department

Subject: Desiging your Documentation/Writing Department
From: "nosnivel -at- netvision -dot- net -dot- il" <nosnivel -at- netvision -dot- net -dot- il>
To: techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
Date: Wed, 9 Aug 2006 05:53:29 -0400

I've been in charge of a few documentation departments
but there are some things that pressure from above has
usually prevented me from doing.

Even an excellent writer needs a good editor; a merely
good writer needs an excellent editor. Thus goes the
saying. As long as the department remained small, I
would read everything before it went out the door. I'd
give editorial feedback, and I would jot down points
that were worth a few moments at the weekly departmental
meeting and a few sentences in the department's style guide.

I had a weekly meeting with all the writers together
as well as a weekly one-on-one with each writer. As
style decisions developed, I tried to make sure that
all the writers had buy-in.

When the department got larger, I found I couldn't edit
or even review every word that everyone wrote. I wanted
to promote from within to put an editor/supervisor in place
for each three writers, but I couldn't get the authorization.
I had a fortnightly meeting with all the writers together,
and on the off-weeks I would meet with them one-on-one.
I wanted to start rotating them from project to project,
so that they could become better rounded and be more helpful
to one another in times of pressure. Also so that no project
would be too dependent on any single writer, so that writers
wouldn't find themselves stuck on projects they didn't like or
with people they didn't get along with, and conversely so that
SMEs and writers wouldn't become sweethearts who too easily
put up with one another's faults.

But my success in rotating writers was never great, because
the company realizes it's easier and more efficient in the
short run to leave the particular project in the hands of
the person who has already learned all about it. I've
decided that the tension between long term and short term
is, in fact, something like the predominant theme in life.

Mark L. Levinson - nosnivel -at- netvision -dot- net -dot- il
Mark discourses to fellow Israeli techwriters at

mail2web - Check your email from the web at .


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