RE: Pricing Documentation and Estimating Timeline

Subject: RE: Pricing Documentation and Estimating Timeline
From: Steven Schwarzman <StevenS -at- amdocs -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Tue, 12 Feb 2002 14:02:18 -0600

(Kathleen Jay asks for help in pricing and building a timeline for documentation)

Kathleen, if you know how to estimate, schedule, and price training, I think you're practically there already for documentation. I use essentially the same formulas for both, with just a few changes due to different units of measure. (In training, the unit is lessons; in documentation, it's tasks; in help, it's topics.) See the archives for my post last June 5 about estimating projects. The basic idea is break up the job into all its bits and pieces, count 'em up, and apply a metric (multiplier) to estimate how long the whole thing will take, based preferably on past experience or, if you have no statistics, industry standards. Once you get experience doing this, you can adjust up or down based on various factors that you know will affect the project.

Now, if you want to go beyond an estimate into a schedule, a copy of MS Project or similar tool will help nicely: plug in the effort (that's from the estimate you just made) and resources for each task, mix in any constraints (like vacations, holidays, partial availability of resources due to other projects, whatever), and you'll get the expected duration.

Finally, as to pricing, why not bill your writer out at the same rate as the programmers in your software company? We do. If this is going to be fixed-price, take your estimates and add a nice contingency (maybe 25%) to cover the added risk.

Steve Schwarzman

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