Quality in Technical Writing

In the twenty-five years we’ve been in business, most of our clients have been easy to work with.  They mostly appreciate the work we deliver and seek our advice, what you’d expect from consulting.  There are exceptions, of course, but given all the companies we’ve touched over the years, there have been few that we’ve regretted ever having met.

Until now.  We currently have a very difficult client.  The people we are working with are not mean.  Their intent is not to do the wrong thing.  I believe they truly want this project to succeed.  So why the difficulty?

Without access to this client’s personnel psychological files, it’s hard to know what these people are thinking.  Every time there’s an opportunity to make the project better, easier, they put roadblocks in place that make it almost impossible to get the project done.  If it weren’t so painful, it would be truly remarkable.

The most pressing issue, however, and the one that gives us the most concern is the effect they are having on our people.  We approach every project with a simple and straightforward plan: Deliver the best possible product in the least amount of time.  We take pride in producing world-class documentation and satisfaction that our clients continue to use us.  For one of our larger client companies, we have been doing all of their documentation for over 25 years.  As I like to say, “and it’s not just because I take them out to lunch.”  Our clients like our work: it’s thorough, it’s easy-to-use, and it looks good.

The problem we are having with this latest client is that if we follow their instructions, we can’t possibly produce documentation that has any value.  And while we get paid either way, it rubs us the wrong way and we have to continually fight for what we know is right.  Unfortunately, with this client, we’re losing the battle.

We have to remind ourselves that this particular project cannot determine how we operate going forward, that with the next project we can produce something we can be proud of.  For now, we just have to suffer, never a good message to have to deliver to the troops.

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