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documentation

For the next month or two at work, I should be a well-paid technical writer.  It is a daunting task, but a necessary one.

It is by far not the first attempt at documentation.  But the attempts so far have been hindered by assumptions that documentation is a one-off process that can be done by someone who is hired off the street (we once received an intern to do our documentation), that all documentation is the same and you don't need to understand how it will be used before writing it, and once done it is somehow magically self-maintaining.  This...irks...me.

I've looked at our many needs, who the audiences are, how we will use it, how we could maintain it, etc.  There will be 3 main documents:  the technical details of how each item in the system works (a mostly internal document), information on functionality and the options for approaching a new project (outward-facing documentation that should be accessible to our business partners), and gathering excels (a means of documenting the details that we must implement - yes, currently there's no official, standardized process for keeping track of how we just altered the system).  I've mapped out a process for updating these 3 whenever a new project goes to prod.  We also need to stay in the loop when the-consultants-who-sold-us-this-pile make a change that impacts us.

Currently, the information exists mostly in outdated HLDs from the consultants, hundreds of abandoned post-conversion project docs, and emails - if it exists at all.  The only plus - such as it is - is that there are no existing documents or processes I need to accommodate:  I am free to invent our entire documentation system from scratch.

Every item I try to understand and document spawns a new mini-project or two, for things that are wrong and should be fixed.

A month or two might be enough to get sufficient momentum, but this will always be at least a part-time job.  Boss is helping to clear my schedule for now, but making the case for being a 50% programmer/analyst (mostly analyst) for the rest of my days and 50% tech writer...we need this, but historically it's been a very hard sell at this company.  I had to go against my old boss just to write oncall documentation, but I was tired of re-inventing the wheel at 3am every few weeks.
Friending welcome, but lurking is fine too.

Constructive criticism is also welcome - whatever it is, trust me, I've heard worse.

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