Re: tracking writer progress on tight deadline?

Subject: Re: tracking writer progress on tight deadline?
From: Stan Schwartz <stanz -at- cam -dot- org>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Wed, 20 Mar 2002 20:08:53 -0500


I have a tight deadline coming up (12 working days) in which to coordinate
4 inexperienced writers (they are technical experts, not writers, but are
writing due to the time constraint).

Do any of you have recommendations on how I can make sure I get the
documentation from these "writers" in time for me to format and edit the
data? (And run it past reviewers and update it.)

Ask for a dry run to check all the practical 'system' things like file compatibility, file transfers, formatting, software versions, fonts, preferences, naming conventions, etc.

I suggested they set a schedule like 4 topics a day to write, but they
seemed amused by this. :(

Can they submit an outline of their content?
(That'll help them organize and articulate their thoughts and for you to estimate where their heads are at.)

Each apprentice might have a preference for delivery. One might prefer your idea of 4 topics a day while another might prefer to deliver it complete. If you can be flexible, great. Frequent meetings for such a short intense project might be a good idea - if you have meetings, make them early and break them up before work starts each morning so that meetings are short and don't eat into writing time.

Their boss has already made it clear that I need their info by an earlier
date to make the final delivery date.

This is true. This is good. Their boss might also be able to suggest a feasible deadline for each one of them based on how they do things normally. Compensate if the person normally procrastinates. Factor in another 15% for whatever. (The 15% extra might be the first thing to get tossed when time is tight, but, you'll need it anyway just for the 'search with replace'.)

Work backwards from your deadline to establish the ones for your apprentices. Set deadlines for first thing in the morning if further work is necessary and at 5:00 (or 15 min before the FedEx arrives) if they are to be sent somewhere. Use style sheets to aid formatting. Examples are good too. Have you a sample that you can provide that your group can emulate.

Perhaps I need to do nothing but wait until a couple days before my
deadline for incorporating their data and pester them that their docs are
due to me in 2 days?

Start gentle reminders the day before you need their input to allow for _their_ freakout.

I could also set specific due dates for each topic (randomly), but I doubt
that would work, since some procedures are probably dependent on others.

The answer here could just be to trust my co-workers to get their work
done on time.

Trust everyone but cut the cards.

Of course, what do I do if they *don't* get their work to me on time, and
my deliverable doesn't meet the deadline. :(

You plan for the worst and hope for the best. Sounds like a challenge. Enjoy yourself. This is the stuff of great stories. Best,

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tracking writer progress on tight deadline?: From: julie brodeur

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