Re: Defining your role

Subject: Re: Defining your role
From: "Susan W. Gallagher" <sgallagher -at- EXPERSOFT -dot- COM>
Date: Tue, 3 Dec 1996 11:53:07 -0800

At 11:22 AM 12/3/96 -0800, Ginna Watts wrote:
>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.
>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.


Reminds me of the time I had to write a doc plan for doc plans. My mission
was to define the role of the technical writer on the team. At first, I
thought it was a relatively lame proposition, but on second thought, I
decided it was to my advantage to define my own role before I had it
defined for me. Almost certainly, having someone else define my role
would lead to my own dissatisfaction.

I took the opportunity to grab as much of the "product communication
territory" as I could concievably get away with, peppering the plan
with choice phrases like:

The technical writer will consult with project management
to determine usability issues and design and present usability

The technical writer will determine training needs...

The technical writer will review marketing copy to ensure
technical accuracy and grammatical correctness...

The technical writer will review all on-screen verbiage to
ensure effective communication...

The technical writer will advise project management on
internationalization and localization issues...

The technical writer will produce/manage/oversee all on-screen
graphics such as icons, splash screens, and toolbar buttons to
ensure effective communication...

I didn't have to present my position orally. It was put up on the network
as a Word doc to be annotated by the team. My five page document collected
about eight additional pages of comments--mostly argumentative and mostly
from the project architect (who instigated the doc in the first place)!
However, I eventually assumed responsibility for about 90% of the items
on my list.

They want role definition? Give it to 'em -- in spades!

Go get'em, girl! ;-)

Sue Gallagher
sgallagher -at- expersoft -dot- com
-- The _Guide_ is definitive.
Reality is frequently inaccurate.

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