Single-Sores

Subject: Single-Sores
From: Andrew Plato <gilliankitty -at- yahoo -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Mon, 12 Aug 2002 10:01:55 -0700 (PDT)



"Sean Brierley" <sbri -at- haestad -dot- com> wrote

> I can measure and demonstrate at least a 40-hour savings per-project and
> an improvement in the accuracy of documentation using single sourcing,
> and I can better meet the needs of software design that continues to
> change up until the ship date. These things I can measure and have done,
> this is not theory.

One positive results does not make a trend, Sean. Of course you saved time, you
controlled it and were consumed with making it work. That does not mean everybody
else will have the same results you had.

There is a grave assumption in this that using a single-source system will
produce quality results in less time then other methods. Well, what are those
"other methods." I see a lot of people throwing out case studies and examples of
how they cut down their process by x% using a new single-sourcing system, but
there isn't much interesting discussion of what was done before? And if there is
any mention of previous systems, it is painted as a archetypal "everything was a
mess" scenario where ANY improvement would be a step in the right direction.

Furthermore, time savings is a far more complex equation than merely shortening
the turn-over rate or the "repurposing rate." Most single-source folks fail to
mention the tremendous amount of time it takes them to set up, manage, and
maintain this system.

> I'd say, in many cases, if you are not single sourcing you are wasting
> time and your employer's money; imagine that, Andrew Plato, fondling
> fonts!

And you may be right. However, I also know that people LOVE to "reclassify"
themselves into "fun" jobs and ignore the job they were hired to do. We have
proven that in the "Like Long Hours" thread where one of my uncontested
conclusions was that people were happy to work overtime on work they enjoy
(setting up single sourcing systems) but were not happy to work over time on work
they did not enjoy (and were hired to do, presumably.)

You may very well build a better mousetrap, but if while you were constructing
your mousetrap, the mice ate all the grain - your new mousetrap is kind of moot.

> In fact, when I refer to lots of overtime, I am talking about the task
> of getting _content_ documented, not setting up single sourcing, messing
> with fonts, or playing with templates. (And, remember, single sourcing
> only has to be set up once, it's not something you'd adjust on every
> project.)

There is an assumption in that. That once something is set up it will be
universally adopted, embraced, and recognized. Since this is rarely the case in
many organizations, then you might not be "setting it up once." You may be
constantly tweaking and changing it, hence losing whatever benefit you might have
earned.

Andrew Plato



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