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

Subject: RE: Advice for writing a user manual/documenting business process
From: Rose -dot- Wilcox -at- pinnaclewest -dot- com
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Thu, 17 Apr 2003 10:39:25 -0700

Hi, Kelly,
In terms of estimating, I agree with Lisa, identify the people and procedures first. Then you can come up with a more realistic estimate. In addition, I saw a "red flag" in what you wrote in your post:
"They are all strangers to me, but they have asked for this book, so I assume they will be willing to help. They are in
various locations, but all are local to me, so I can meet with them in person if I have to"

In my experience this type of assumption "they asked for it, there for they will help me" doesn't always pan out across the board. Some of the managers and users may be willing, but others might not care or even be hostile to the idea. In addition, even some of the willing managers and users may be very busy people and might not put your manual on high priority in their schedules. Build in some delay for working with users. If you get resistence from your boss in building in the delay, schedule the project as if you were going to get super 100% cooperation from your list of people, but document the risk. And as you go about trying to make your schedule keep copies of emails, appointments, phone calls, etc. to document any possible problems.

If you have good sponsorship for the project, the managers who asked for the manual will help you find alternative sources of information or other solutions to any roadblocks that occur due to busy-ness or lack of cooperation.

Do also build production time into your schedule. Definitely talk to the production people up front about how long it will take to produce the books. I see you have a good handle on that, though so that is fun.

And if you want to find John's posts from the past, you could go on the Techwr-l website and look in the archives. I can't save all the Techwr-l posts I need either, but I don't fret, because I know the archives are there to search.

The only other tip I have is that although it can be time-consuming and somewhat boring, sometimes the only way to get a handle on a process is to "shadow" the person doing it.

Rose A. Wilcox
CHQ, 17th Floor
Tranz1 QA/Documentation
Rose -dot- Wilcox -at- PinnacleWest -dot- com

I'm always ready to learn, although I do not always like being taught.
- Winston Churchill

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