Re: tracking writer progress on tight deadline?

Subject: Re: tracking writer progress on tight deadline?
From: Michael Oboryshko <obie1121 -at- yahoo -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Thu, 21 Mar 2002 06:59:59 -0800 (PST)

julie brodeur wrote:
> 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).

The responses so far sound good, and they might work. But they
mostly depend on persuading 4 other people to behave in a
certain way. Unfortunately, the only person who can compel their
behavior is the person who can fire them, and maybe not even
then. So in the spirit of personal accountability, I usually try
to focus only on things I can control, which are (1) my own time
management, and (2) the document itself.

If George hasn't given you material for his topics, put a
datestamped tag right in the document, where his topic should
go... "George will provide info for this topic (3/21)." Update
and circulate the draft every day. Make sure George and George's
boss get a copy.

Then immediately announce that a "content freeze" will occur 48
hours before the due date (or 24 hours if you prefer). On the
freeze date, gather up all the content and take it offsite.
Turn off your telephone, and return at the appointed time with a
finished manual (as finished as you can make it). Then sleep.

Oh, and it goes without saying, first make sure you have
exhausted all possibilities of getting the information yourself,
without waiting for some SME to deliver a draft.

And try to set up a post-mortem discussion to figure out how you
got into this situation. Your boss probably thinks this is an
excellent example of teamwork pulling together in the final two
weeks. But I suspect it was probably caused by some *failure* of
teamwork much earlier. If you pull this off successfully, he or
she is likely to make it happen again.

Good luck...

Mike O.

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