TW dept managers or directors in particular do have a place in developmental stages. They provide user advocacy in the initial stages, when the development is most nebulous, providing direction and focus toward the common goal of the team: happy customers who like the product and want to buy more. From the TW perspective, the TW mgr/dir gathers info about headcount impact, resource allocation dynamics, etc.
You simply cannot categorically state that TWs have no place at any point in a project, because there are too many successful use cases that prove to the contrary, at least 3 of my previous gigs being examples thereof. It depends on the pace of development and the length of the product life cycle, among other things. The faster the products develop and the shorter the product life cycle is, the more critical it is to have TW integration at the earliest phase. Creating user assistance is indeed a necessary task, but it is only one of many that TWs perform. User advocacy ? getting the user expectations back up the chain into the ears of those who can impact what the users end up getting ? is at least as important as the more common task of user assistance. If all the user needs is assistance, they'll just ring off the hook with tech support or customer service. User advocacy ensures higher quality products that lower call volume to tech support and customer service. Writing good, usable Help in terms that the user understands is another way to drop the call volume. But, rely on either without the other and you don't reap the maximum benefit of TW staff. Rene Stephenson Technical Writer <tekwrytr at hotmail.com> wrote: That is a very big if. A full partner participant-stakeholder, or more likely the department manager? It is more likely that the software developers, business analysts, and the project manager are collaborating to get a decent set of requirements down. At that stage, TWs have no place, whether department managers, full partner participant-stakeholders, or something else. When the requirements are determined, and possibly after several iterations, possibly after a prototype is up and running, TWs might be brought in. Even at that stage, it is early, because the GUI crew may not have the interface coded, the developers might not have the functionality carved in stone, and everything is still uncertain (in regards to exactly what the final product will be and do). TWs complete a very necessary task; creating user assistance. Until the final iteration, until all the requirements have been met, until there is little or no possibility of changes to the end product, there is little point in generating documentation that might become obsolete at the next iteration. http://www.tekwrytrs.com/Specializing in the Design, Development, and Production of:Technical Documentation - Online Content - Enterprise Websites Date: Mon, 29 Oct 2007 08:26:46 -0700From: lhs_emf at pacbell.netSubject: Re: radical revamping of techpubsTo: tekwrytr at hotmail.comCC: framers at lists.frameusers.com Actually, I disagee, if the TW is a full partner participant - stakeholder, or more likely the department manager in the scenario you are discussing, they should also participate early on to get the sense of the uncertainty and what those issues are, at the very least these issues are going to affect their scheduling and the expectations they have to deal with. ----- Original Message ----From: Technical Writer To: Leslie Schwartz ; framers at lists.frameusers.comSent: Monday, October 29, 2007 8:44:16 AMSubject: RE: radical revamping of techpubs I agree wholeheartedly. That is not the issue. The issue goes back to the BA interpretation of (and translation of) the software requirements. If there is a high level of certainty on the client side about what the finished product should be, TWs should start early. If not, and it is essentially a fishing expedition with ambiguous outcome, TWs are only useful at the last. Unfortunately, the "agile" methodologies strongly sell the sense of control to executives, pushing the idea that they can develop on the fly, adding and removing "requirements" as the executives see fit. http://www.tekwrytrs.com/Specializing in the Design, Development, and Production of:Technical Documentation - Online Content - Enterprise Websites> From: lhs_emf at pacbell.net> To: tekwrytr at hotmail.com; bhechter at objectives.ca; framers at lists.frameusers.com> Subject: RE: radical revamping of techpubs> Date: Sun, 28 Oct 2007 19:04:10 -0500> > I belong to several message - interest groups and I am used to hearing people give their opinions in a bombastic manner. So its no> big deal to see that happening here. But if this discussion is to have any real value it will be to share our perspectives with> others and learn something about points of view's entirely different than our own, which requires some tolerance and mutual respect.> > > My view and experience is that it definitely helps to get the TW involved early on, but it?s a waste of time for them to sit all the> way through each meeting, and for the entire duration of each meeting.> > Marketing requirements documents and engineering specification documents, if they are adequately written will help the TW formulate> the user documentation at a fairly early stage, but the bulk of the documentation effort comes towards the end of the development> cycle. And ideally the writer of the user guide if that is they type of documentation we are discussing now, should be a> knowledgeable user with some fresh insights into the learning curve the novice user will face, and some empathy for that new user.> > Ignoring the need for documentation, putting it off until the last moment is a formula for poor quality documentation.> > - In my humble opinion.> > Have a great work week!> > Leslie> > > -----Original Message-----> From: framers-bounces+lhs_emf=pacbell.net at lists.frameusers.com [mailto:framers-bounces+lhs_emf=pacbell.net at lists.frameusers.com] On> Behalf Of Technical Writer> Sent: Sunday, October 28, 2007 5:47 PM> To: bhechter at objectives.ca; framers at lists.frameusers.com> Subject: RE: radical revamping of techpubs> > > Well, a difference of opinion is what makes a horse race. Iterative software methods do not require iterative documentation methods;> in most cases, documentation before the last iteration is considered both wasteful and useless. While I have a great deal of respect> for Steve McConnell, proposing early draft user guides as a replacement for requirement specs is a bit off the road. > > If you develop software, and intend to use early draft user guides instead of requirements, you are going to be greeting the folks> at Wal-Mart rather than trying to pull back a contract or two from Bangalore. The statement is at odds with most developers' (and> most business analysts') understanding of "requirements." Putting an occasional "agile" into a sentence doesn't make the process any> more reasonable. > > I didn't invent the idea of ignoring documentation until the final product is ready (or almost ready) to ship. Far more intelligent,> competent, and capable people than me have decided that "involving TWs from the early stages of development" is only useful when the> end product is carved in stone before the first line of code is written. That, for better of worse, is rarely the case.> > Lastly, given that about a third of all software projects, agile or otherwise, fail so badly they are abandoned, if you ignore> documentation completely, you have a one in three chance of coming out ahead when the project flops because you have at least saved> the cost of documentation.> http://www.tekwrytrs.com/Specializing in the Design, Development, and Production of:Technical Documentation - Online Content -> Enterprise Websites> > > Date: Sun, 28 Oct 2007 12:21:17 -0700From: bhechter at yahoo.comSubject: re: radical revamping of techpubsTo: tekwrytr at hotmail.comCC:> framers at lists.frameusers.comSorry, but I find the thread both:a) Off-topicb) Misleading. Iterative sofware methods require iterative> documentation methods, but by no means do they eliminate the parallel need for early draft user manuals. In fact, Steve McConnell> (Code Complete) proposes early draft user guides as an agile replacement for requirements specs.Ben> Because the application itself> is built in an iterative process, rather than > being carved in stone, reacting to feedback from the client, documentation > before> the last minute is pointless. The reason should be obvious; the > application being documented in the early stages bears little> resemblance > to the application delivered. Ben Hechter Vancouver BC bhechter at yahoo.com> _________________________________________________________________> Windows Live Hotmail and Microsoft Office Outlook ? together at last. Get it now.> http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/outlook/HA102225181033.aspx?pid=CL100626971033_______________________________________________> > > You are currently subscribed to Framers as lhs_emf at pacbell.net.> > Send list messages to framers at lists.frameusers.com.> > To unsubscribe send a blank email to > framers-unsubscribe at lists.frameusers.com> or visit http://lists.frameusers.com/mailman/options/framers/lhs_emf%40pacbell.net> > Send administrative questions to listadmin at frameusers.com. Visit> http://www.frameusers.com/ for more resources and info.> Boo! Scare away worms, viruses and so much more! Try Windows Live OneCare! Try now! _________________________________________________________________ Boo! Scare away worms, viruses and so much more! Try Windows Live OneCare! http://onecare.live.com/standard/en-us/purchase/trial.aspx?s_cid=wl_hotmailnews_______________________________________________ You are currently subscribed to Framers as rinnie1 at yahoo.com. 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