Working in a Documentation Team

In contrast to the single writer scenario, the numbers of writers in a documentation group usually range from 2 to 20 and even more. In India, the documentation team usually consists of technical writers, some of them doubling up as editors and illustrators as and when required. Every working scenario has its own advantages and disadvantages.

Advantages

The advantages of working in a documentation team outweighs the disadvantages. On a parallel comparison, the disadvantages of working as a lone writer translate into advantages of working in a team and the vice-versa. The advantages of being a part of the documentation team are:

  • Opportunities
    • The writers get opportunity to work on different technologies products, tools, and domains.
    • Tasks, projects, and assorted responsibilities can be interchanged or can be worked on in rotation. Writers can choose and work on their areas of interest (editing, graphics, training, etc.). This reduces monotony.
    • Writers can get involved in peer editing, reviewing, and proofreading.
    • Team members are available for peer reviews, peer edits, process and/or tool innovation, knowledge sharing, etc.
  • Uniform standards and processes
    • You can follow a streamlined documentation process in the team.
    • Writers get involved in decision making activities regarding the processes and stylistic issues.
    • It is possible to enforce a formal technical review process.
  • Growth and progression
    • The hierarchy in a team clearly defines roles and responsibilities and allows career growth.
    • It creates an environment for helping and mentoring. Senior writers will be able to take up more responsible roles.
    • Writers have an identity which greatly improves their self-esteem and in turn, their efficiency and productivity.
    • Projects can be allocated based on the expertise and experience of the writers.
    • Team work provides a nurturing environment which is required for logical and professional progression.
  • Knowledge sharing
    • The writers can share knowledge which allows them to stay connected and are up-to-date and consistent in the job skills.
    • It allows interaction with other writers, giving an opportunity to share information, knowledge, and expertise with team members.
    • Writers get the opportunity to share opinions about writing, process, usability, content organization, and presentation.
    • This increases not only the product and domain knowledge, technical writing skills, and knowledge about various tools.
  • Support from the documentation manager
    • The documentation managers can judge the skills and performance of a technical writer better than a product and/or project manager. Product or project managers may overrate or underrate the writers.
    • Managers or team leaders will try to ensure that a writer gets due recognition.
    • They can create opportunities for promotions and recognition. This way, technical writers can also attain a well-deserved professional status and identity in the organization.
    • They can help facilitate training and performance recognition.
    • They help in participation in events that involve local and international peer groups, such as STC.
    • In case of an issue (slipped deadline, personal tiffs, ego clashes, etc.), the manager has the authority to take the necessary/corrective action.

Advantages

The disadvantages of being a part of a documentation team are:

  • Some managers may enforce projects on technical writers without taking their opinion about it. So, there is a risk that the writers might not like the projects assigned to them.
  • Sometimes there can be ego hassles and clashes between the team members.
  • Favouritism can also occur (this can happen in any work environment) thereby hampering the future prospects of eligible and talented writers.
  • Team work requires strong interpersonal skills and team spirit. So self-cantered individuals will find it difficult to work in such environment. They may also make the other lives miserable.

 A big documentation group is lead by a documentation manager and each project or product line is lead by a team leader or a project leader. If the documentation group is small or if it is a part of another group, then the team leader or the project leader may lead the group. On the whole, having a documentation team is beneficial. Minor disadvantages can easily be overcome.

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