Defining your role

Subject: Defining your role
From: Ginna Watts <gwatts -at- PIM -dot- BC -dot- CA>
Date: Tue, 3 Dec 1996 11:22:35 -0800

Hi all,

I am fairly new in my job, at a company where I am the first (and only)
tech writer. We have gone through some fairly significant hiring in the
last little while, so I am not alone in being new. The manager of the R&D
group is also new, and he has asked me to do something I'm not very
comfortable with.

First, some background: The company is in the middle of a major upgrade of
its software, from DOS 5 to NT 4. We have tentatively decided that the
documentation will be significantly upgraded as well. There exists now a
good reference manual for the DOS version, but no online help and no user
guide as such.

I would like to update the reference guide, create a context sensitive help
system, and design a user guide. The manager told me yesterday that I need
to 'bring the programmers and customer support people on board.' To that
end, he has asked me to write the 'definitive documentation on
documentation' (yes, that's a quote). In other words, defend my existence
and job to the rest of the team. That is (i.e.? ;), I am to write out a
description of exactly what a tech writer does, what the difference between
user and reference guides are, how online help differs from an electronic
manual etc. When it is complete, I am to give it out, and then make a
presentation to the rest of the team. This is not a presentation on what
I'd like to do with this specific project, but rather a more general, 'this
is what I do and why you should support me' talk.

Am I wrong in being uncomfortable with this? I feel that it should not be
up to me to bring the rest of the team on board. If the documentation
decisions are based on time, money etc., then I could live with doing less,
but I hate feeling like I have to defend my job, especially when I'm so

How should I handle this - any thoughts?

Ginna Watts | gwatts -at- pim -dot- bc -dot- ca
Pacific International Mapping Corp.
4218 Commerce Circle
Victoria, BC Canada V8Z 6N6
Tel (250) 727-0727 Fax (250) 727-3153
maps3d -at- pim -dot- bc -dot- ca

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