Re: Software requirements writers?

Subject: Re: Software requirements writers?
From: Bruce Byfield <bbyfield -at- AXIONET -dot- COM>
Date: Wed, 31 Dec 1997 20:28:48 -0500

Jill Burgchardt <jburgcha -at- PESTILENCE -dot- ITC -dot- NRCS -dot- USDA -dot- GOV> wrote:

>Absolutely. While some tech writers may "blithely take on"
>requirements writing and analysis without >ecognizing/performing the type and level of analysis required, >tech writing and analysis can be a great combination. I've >taken coursework in analysis and design, systems analysis, >logic, and marketing research. Plus, depending on where I've >been working (electric power industry, USDA, etc.) I've taken >industry-specific coursework/training.

I admire this hard work, and, like you, I try to keep current in as many
aspects of the trade as possible. However, I also suspect that, sooner
or later, most writers are going to find themselves faced with learning
something they know nothing about.

I suggest that, when this situation arises, the best model for a
tech-writer is that of an investigative reporter: somebody who knows how
to find information and make sense of it quickly.

For example, in my present job, I'm facing the challenge of documenting
seven years' worth of work and over a thousand different programs. The
program files contain no comments from the developers that might be
helpful. In many cases, the developers are no longer with the company.

I spend a good part of my day interviewing people, reading through old
e-mails and memos, running programs, and cross-checking the information
I receive, then trying to knead it into some sort of pattern - all this
before I write. Whereas in my previous position, I could write 25-40
pages a day, in this one I'm lucky to get six.

Strange to say, I love the situation. It's a very practical puzzle, and
makes my day almost perfectly balanced between working with others and
working by myself.

However, the point is, without a mental image of myself as someone who
has to start in confusion and slowly evolve some sense, I'd be immensely

Bruce Byfield, Outlaw Communications
(bbyfield -at- axionet -dot- com) (604) 421-7189 or 687-2133 X. 269

" He is a lonely man and his pride is that you will treat him as a proud
man or be very sorry you ever saw him."
- Raymond Chandler, "The Simple Art of Murder", or

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