RE: Advice for writing a user manual/documenting business process

Subject: RE: Advice for writing a user manual/documenting business process
From: "Lisa Wright" <liwright -at- earthlink -dot- net>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Thu, 17 Apr 2003 10:16:13 -0700

This can be a very neat project. I had to do a couple of these on my
last assignment. They were not of the scope or scale you have to manage,
but they involved much more than just documenting software.

I don't think I can help with the estimating part, but I do have some
thoughts on the general process and interviewing the users. This is
where you really get to be a detective. The folks you are interviewing
probably know their jobs so well that they don't think about and can't
articulate everything that they do. You will have to pay very close
attention! Ask a lot of "why" questions."

You may run into people who are content to do their jobs without
questioning them. Those are the hardest ones to interview because they
lack curiosity and understanding. It can feel like running into a blank
wall when it happens. You ask "why" and they just shrug. But there are
usually ways to get the information. Ask questions in a different way.
Or if they don't know why they do a particular thing, go ask someone
whose procedure touches theirs at that point.

Okay I lied, I do have a suggestion about the estimating! If you really
don't have a good handle on the scale of the project, it's going to be
impossible to do an estimate. Ask your boss for some time to identify
the people and procedures first. You may still find some things later,
but at least you will have identified most of the work.

You need time in your plan to conduct interviews, process the
information and draft it, then go back and ask more questions.

For organizing the document, identify up front all the systems and roles
involved. And definitely use flowcharts! :-)

Good luck!


-----Original Message-----
From: bounce-techwr-l-53104 -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com
[mailto:bounce-techwr-l-53104 -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com] On Behalf Of Kelly
Sent: Thursday, April 17, 2003 8:23 AM
Subject: Advice for writing a user manual/documenting business process

Hi all,

I have been asked to write a user manual and document the business
processes associated with receiving and tracking packages at a
pharmaceutical company. They receive everything from ordinary packages,
to specimens, to live animals. This system is not used to receive any
active ingredients or pharmaceuticals, so there are no GMP or FDA
worries that I am aware of.


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Advice for writing a user manual/documenting business process: From: Kelly Smith

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