One challenge facing freelance technical writers is working with developers who make it difficult to obtain the necessary information to document the process flow. The reasons are usually innocuous, and often are due to incorrect perceptions or misinformation inside the organization about the ITIL implementation. If your organization has not yet implemented ITIL, then making plans to do as such sooner rather than later will create less pain when considering the extrapolation of information from your developers. Here are some common reasons why your software developers might not offer all the information needed to complete a thorough ITIL implementation.
Reasons Developers May Not Divulge Info
- Too busy – The developer is so busy the he/she cannot find the time to sit down with the technical writer.
- Fear of losing their job – If the developer hasn’t been informed that he/she will be interviewed by a technical writer, the developer might misunderstand the situation and think they are being assessed for job performance and potentially replaced.
- Protecting their baby – The developer is afraid they will no longer be an asset to the company if they give away too much information about the application.
- Doesn’t understand the payback reward – If the developer doesn’t understand ITIL, nor the organization’s need to implement it, then he/she may not realize how the ITIL documentation can actually make their job easier.
- Language barriers – If a developer is not a native speaker of your language, this of course can hamper communication. If the barrier is too great, your organization may need to hire bi-lingual technical writer or in extreme cases a translator.
How to Get the Developer to Divulge
- Educate the Developer – Have your developer read up on ITIL so they understand what it is and how their role in providing information is crucial.
- Implement ITIL from the start – Have your programmers and developers work directly with a technical writer from the beginning of the project if at all possible. This way there is no break in their operation and they are used to providing the information as part of their daily or weekly process.
- Implement SCRUM or the like – This goes with the above bullet point and will further help place the importance of the process documentation in the forefront of the entire department. Daily and weekly meetings should include your technical writer(s) and should touch on the latest updates by both the writer and the programmers.
- Clear up the developer schedule – Help your developer schedule time to work with the technical writer. This includes your support to push back on other employees who might interrupt their time for his/her assistance. You might have to reassign duties to other developers to help facilitate the freeing up with the developer’s schedule.
- Assure the developer that their job isn’t at stake – Make sure the developer knows that the technical writer isn’t there to assess their performance.
- Reassure the developer – Give the developer a sense of continued ownership of the project and that the documentation isn’t there to give their duties to other people or departments.
- Bring on another developer – If none of the above methods work, it may become necessary to bring in another developer who can both learn the application and divulge the necessary information to the tech writer. Of course you will want to qualify this next developer as one that will not have the same communication issues as the current one.
How to Find a Technical Writer Who Can Get a Developer to Divulge
In order to get information from someone who is hesitant to provide it, you need a technical writer who has skills beyond writing and process mapping. This means your technical writer needs to be proactive, assertive and have project management skills as well. In my experience, all of my clients have had developers fit every point I touched above. This found me working both with management to help me effectively massage the information needed out of the hesitant developer as well as using my own techniques to set meetings and hold the developer accountable for the information they give me.
When you have problems getting all the information from the developers or development team, contact me and I can help you work with your team to start your ITIL implementation or to fill in the gaps in your current implementation. I have the skills to pin down your developer and extract all the possible info I can and then work with the stakeholders to find effective ways to plug in the gaps until the implementation is complete.
Drop me a line & let’s discuss how I can help your business writing needs.