Number of steps per procedure

Subject: Number of steps per procedure
From: Tara English-Sweeney <tesweeney -at- novadigm -dot- com>
To: TECHWR-L <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Wed, 18 Oct 2000 15:55:02 -0400

I come from the school of thought that says you should limit the number of
steps in a procedure. The old rule of 7 +/- 2 is usually comfortable to me.
I'm flexible - and am ok going up to as many as 10 or 12 steps. However, in
my current project, there are 20+ steps to complete some of the procedures.
The one that prompted this email is actually 19 steps.

The procedure is done in a wizard-like environment. I know some will say
that I shouldn't need to document a wizard :) But, it really is NOT a
wizard. The similarity is that you navigate through the windows from start
to end, complete many fields along the way. Due to poor design (which is
supposed to evolve), you really can't jump out in the middle of the
procedure, nor can you successfully pick up from where you left off.

I've condensed the number of steps as much as possible. For example,

6. Complete the fields as shown in the figure below.
- In the XXX field, type a name for XXX.
- In the XXX drop-down list, select XXX.
- In the XXX field, type a XXX of the XXX.
- In the XXX field, type a XXX.

{screen capture/figure here}

7. Click Next.

Normally, I would try to break things up into smaller procedures. For
example, break steps 1 - 5 into one procedure and so on. In this particular
situation, that just doesn't make sense to me.

My questions to all of you TECHWHIRLERs are:
- What do you think about a procedure that has 19 steps?
- Do you limit the number of steps in a procedure?
- If so, how do you handle it in a situation that seems unavoidable?
- And, any other thoughts on this situation.

Just curious :)

PS I searched the archives and found a slightly similar discussion. But, it
still left me wondering...

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