Re: Early contracting experiences

Subject: Re: Early contracting experiences
From: Bruce Johnson <bhjohnson -at- pacbell -dot- net>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Thu, 29 Aug 2002 20:36:24 -0700

sclarke -at- nucleus -dot- com wrote:
> I'm wondering if some of you would share your early contracting
> experiences? The good news is: I'm working and many are not but *what* a
> way to learn. My goodness. I'm contemplating writing a survival manual for
> new tech writing contractors. This is my first contract.
> I have been working without a scope of agreement
> All they knew was 1) they had to start 2) they had to get technical
> content in place and 3) they had to finish by X date. Beyond that they
> were clue-less. I have endeavoured to fill in the blanks for them -about
> what needs to happen in between. My immediate manager truly refuses to
> believe how long it takes to produce this documentation-he thinks he know
> everything better than every body else.
My company does contract documentation, et. al, for large companies. Our typical scenario is similar to this; the prospective client just doesn't know how long it takes to develop some of this stuff. We've been in the "business" for over 14 years, so we have a pretty good grasp of how to estimate. Our typical scenario is that the client has X to document by Y time, frequently in response to some regulatory requirement. Just as a casual estimate, we can tell them we would need to start by Z date with Q people. Then, the client drags his feet, hems, haws, runs some stuff by the budget people, and then says, "Well, we need to do some other stuff." By the time they've done that, the Z date has already passed a month or so ago.

Note that even if you threw Q + M people at it, it couldn't get finished anywhere near time.

I'd say the moral of the story is to CYA real good if you accept anything with a client like this. In securities (Stock Market stuff), this is know as a "Best Effort", which means you'll do everything you can to deliver all, but there are no guarantees.

The main cause for delays we've had on projects over the past 14+ years is the client review; they just drag their feet.

Bruce H. Johnson
Glendale, California
bhjohnson -at- pacbell -dot- net
#include <std_disclaimer>

Bruce H. Johnson
Glendale, California
bhjohnson -at- pacbell -dot- net
#include <std_disclaimer>

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