RE: Documentation Plan Template

Subject: RE: Documentation Plan Template
From: "Backer, Corinne" <CBacker -at- glhec -dot- org>
To: "'TECHWR-L'" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Mon, 24 Jan 2000 16:53:56 -0600

We have for some projects, but not as often as I'd like (always under the
gun, you know). We adapted the plan Hackos laid out and added some
requirements applicable to our company, then made the Info Plan and Content
Spec each a form in Word. For each project, the writer works on these with
the main client, then gets signoff and distributes to all key players. I
find it's useful for several reasons:

1 - it helps the writer focus. Even (especially?) experienced writers
sometimes dive in without taking a hard look at the goal, and the resulting
time wasted on backtracking is usually more than what would have been needed
for a good plan.
2 - it makes the user think about what THEY'RE really trying to accomplish
with a manual. Our users are departments in a large company, all responsible
to auditors, and we sometimes get requests like "We need a procedure manual
to satisfy a checkpoint on our audit." The forms make the client think about
what info would actually be useful to their staff, rather than just
generating 200 pages to satisfy the auditor. Also, with the buzz about
online documentation, we have clients asking us for a procedure manual on
our intranet because they read in TIME that it's the wave of the future -
but didn't consider the fact that most of their employees don't have PCs. :)
3 - the forms help us and the user set a reasonable deadline and stick to
it. When a client signs off, it indicates a certain level of agreement to
helping us hit the deadline. Then, when the next 15 projects come down the
line, we have some documentation on why we have to either say No or get
additional staff.
4 - it's a great way to show your VP (or whoever pays the bills) what you
and your staff are actually doing all day. Many clients here didn't
understand why the manuals "took so long" until they went through this
process of planning; then, when they ended up with a good product on time,
they were much more supportive of the whole idea the next time around.

I can send you the templates we use, if anyone wants them. (I don't think
attachments come over the listserve.)

-----Original Message-----
From: Paul Hanson [mailto:PHanson -at- Quintrex -dot- com]
I'm looking at my copy now. There is a very detailed plan outline in
Appendix A. I got my copy for Christmas from my wife and am just now
starting to look it over. How many of you have implemented the suggested
Information Planning document in your development cycle? Paul

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