TechWhirl (TECHWR-L) is a resource for technical writing and technical communications professionals of all experience levels and in all industries to share their experiences and acquire information.
For two decades, technical communicators have turned to TechWhirl to ask and answer questions about the always-changing world of technical communications, such as tools, skills, career paths, methodologies, and emerging industries. The TechWhirl Archives and magazine, created for, by and about technical writers, offer a wealth of knowledge to everyone with an interest in any aspect of technical communications.
My boss and I would like some advice on motivating development personnel to
provide the necessary information to create documentation.
Has your boss confirmed that the developer's boss wants the original
writing to be done by the developers, not by you? If so, the
motivation can not come from you. If you work for the same boss as
the developers, what's the problem? Just give the developers the time
off from their design duties and ask them to write down what you need.
To which almost any boss would say: NO WAY, you do the writing or find
someone who can learn the design and write whatever is needed.
EXPLANATION: Our company create high-end engineering software for structural
analysis, aeroelastic analysis, etc. Because of the complexities of these
topics, we have always had a developer (or other qualified company expert)
write the book and receive author credit on the cover, which is always a nice
feather in the professional cap. (We provide word processing support and edit
the books for grammar, format, etc.) Our formula has been very sucessful, and
our clients really like our books.
Recently, our company acquired two other companies that develops pre- and
postprocessers for our products. At these companies, the books have
traditionally been written by the documentation staff with very grudging
contributions from development. The documentation personnel at these two
companies are very discouraged by the lack of support and their inability to
get the information they need to create the documentation. They doubt that
anyone on their development staffs would agree to author a book, even for
credit on the title page.
We are supposed to be technical writers, not engineering writers -
right? So why should they expect us to learn their subject and do the
writing for them? On the other hand, they are developers not writers
and why should they be expected to do the writing?
What other incentives/motivators have been used successfully? A cash bonus to
development personnel who contribute to a book has been suggested.
SUGGESTION: Give us the cash bonus in our paychecks and we will
become engineering writers. We would love to work for the same pay!!!
Vince Putman | Eschew Gratuitous Obfuscation
putmv -at- mail -dot- syntron -dot- com | OR
713-647-7139 Houston, TX | Avoid Free Confusion