RE: Round #4263 with the Client From Hell

Subject: RE: Round #4263 with the Client From Hell
From: "David Knopf" <david -at- knopf -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Mon, 7 Jan 2002 07:32:03 -0800

Andrew Plato wrote:

| --- David Knopf <david -at- knopf -dot- com> wrote:
| > I am curious to understand just how this would work. Please explain
| > which of Elna's 7 steps should she omit in order to adapt
| the process to
| > meet the client's work patterns. Should she skip the
| outline? Not create
| > a schedule? Avoid writing a first draft and instead proceed
| directly to
| > the second? Not ask the client to review the interim drafts?
| >
| > Elna's 7 steps are not some weird, wacked-out, zany, process-crazy
| > nonsense. They are the generally accepted steps in creating
| a quality
| > documntation or user assistance product.
| Oh, I totally agree. I even said that in a different post.
| The steps seem
| totally normal. But just because you have steps doesn't mean
| the client
| will follow them.
| There is no need to omit any steps.

Excellent. So we can agree that these 7 steps should probably figure
into most documentation projects? Perhaps even that they form the core
of a "process" that documentation developers should use, occasionally
adapting it to meet the needs of a particular project? That sounds right
to me, and it sounds as if you agree, as well.

| But when the client
| starts changing
| the landscape, you have to be prepared to respond to that. That may
| include scrapping those steps

Again, Andrew, specifically which of the seven steps could be scrapped?
I thought you said there was no need to omit any of the steps.

| and adopting new ones or highly modified
| ones, or having no process whatsoever,

And what would that look like--"having no process whatsoever"? I'm
trying to picture it, and I guess I'm suffering from a failure of
imagination. What specifically would it look like to develop 5 user
manuals over 6 weeks using "no process whatsoever"? Do the writers all
stand around a cauldron chanting and occasionally tossing in a small
rodent? ;-)

| or establishing a
| process as you
| go. The point is, you read the client and adapt to them vs. trying to
| adapt the client to your process.

OK. So how would you handle it, Andrew? You've entered into a fixed
price contract to develop 5 user manuals over 6 weeks. You and your
client have agreed that for $x, you will produce 23 specific
deliverables. Five weeks into the project, your client tells you they
will not accept anything less than 42 deliverables, which will take you
substantially more time and resources to complete, and they will not
agree to pay one penny more or to extend the schedule by even one day.
What "highly modified" processes do you adopt? How you adapt to the
client? How do you solve the problem? Do you agree to do the extra work
for free, or do you have some magic way of adjusting the process so that
you can do all the extra work within your original budget?

Inquiring minds want to know ...


David Knopf (mailto:david -at- knopf -dot- com)
Knopf Online (
Tel: 415.550.8367

RoboHelp MVP & Certified RoboHelp Instructor
WebWorks Publisher Certified Trainer
Member, JavaHelp 2.0 Expert Group
Member, RoboHelp Community Advisory Board
Co-moderator, HATT & wwp-users


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RE: Round #4263 with the Client From Hell: From: Andrew Plato

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