The gentle art of project documentation control

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Managing project documents can be an underappreciated art in some organizations. It’s an area where a technical writer should take charge. I’ve seen document control of all stripes throughout my career. Document control that works. Document control that didn’t work. Even document control that caused a near staff rebellion. I’ve even seen no formal document control practices.
While compliance programs like COSO and Sarbanes Oxley require document control over project documents, it also makes good business sense.
Here are some tips for implementing document control within your project team or organization:

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6 ways to sabotage your technical documentation

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Every job hunt and even unsolicited discussions with recruiters during the past few years brought me more tales of organizations continuing to have issues producing and maintaining technical documentation. It is not isolated in one sector, and I keep hearing the same problems repeatedly. This has been a real disappointment for me over the years I was a contract technical writer and now that I have a staff technical writer job.
 
Developing technical documentation isn’t fun. Otherwise, it wouldn’t be such an afterthought. Things aren’t made any easier with a technical writing profession that is fragmented on the actual role of the technical writer.
 
Here are some ways organizations sabotage their technical documentation:
 

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Part-time freelancing: An alternative perspective

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So much is written about the part-time writer or freelancer being the one who complicates part-time working arrangements – they do this, they do that, part-time freelancing during your off hours is going to melt your brain and turn you into a hermit and so forth. These articles only tell half the story and actually do a disservice to writers and potential clients.

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Random and recent thoughts about revisions

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Unlike some writers, I’m OK with being asked for revisions whether it be an article, blog post, or technical documentation I’m writing. Writing and publishing is a team effort.
I’ve had the blessing of working with some amazing editors in the course of my writing career. Unfortunately, I’ve also worked with some organizations that could never factor in the importance of reviews into their document cycle.

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The case for paid projects, not free writing tests

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I first want to state that I’m not averse to writing tests for full-time or contract positions. Yet, in today’s economy, my time at the keyboard is tied to billable work. A request to take a writing test came to me once from a company. Looking at the information they sent me, they could submit my output from this test to their client as a deliverable. All the while, I could be out time and money for the effort, and the company has gotten the work done for free.

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