Bad Office Organization

Subject: Bad Office Organization
From: David Loveless <daveloveless -at- gmail -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Wed, 15 Jun 2005 13:23:21 -0600

I work in an office that is attempting to revamp the technical writing
department. The (the management, none of which are tech writers) have
decided on a couple basic changes that will dramatically hurt our
ability to document and provide services.

The office deals with three major projects. Since we have three
writers, they have decided that the best way to organize the tech
writers would be to have one writer per project. There will be no
cross-communication or work. Understand that these projects are highly
related to eachother, use the same SMEs, the same style guides, same
templates, etc. The projects also require differing amounts of time
commitment. One project could easily use up 60-80 hours a week, one
30-40, and the third only 20 hours. In the past, we would all have
combined efforts and seen this as a single block of around 120 hours.
Now, we are unable to assist other tech writers and, if you are on the
short end of the stick, well... tough. We are also each assigned to a
different manager. In the short time we've been doing this, our style
guides have collapsed, training has failed, and there are so many
inconsistencies and redundancies that our documentation has become
burdensome and useless.

I have been working with managers for the last 6 months trying to get
these decisions reversed, but I have been unable to persuade them.
Basically it comes down to the simple fact that we work in an
educational environment, my managers have PhD's, and I'm an undergrad.
As most tech writers quickly learn, the value of education pales in
comparison to actual experience. My experience, my instinct, and my
education all says this will fail, but until I can back up my words
with the words of other PhD's, I can't "communicate" on their level.
This is where you come in.

Does anyone know of any studies, texts, anything that documents failed
writing projects directly related to a division of labor. Without
actual evidence to back up my arguments, I will never have the proof I
need to garner support for my changes. Anything's appreciated.

Either way, help or no help, this is sounding like the beginnings of a
decent Master's thesis.

Dave L.


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