Re: Tracking document complexity

Subject: Re: Tracking document complexity
From: David Neeley <dbneeley -at- oddpost -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Wed, 19 Nov 2003 15:02:55 -0800 (PST)

Don't you think the problem is not at all in stressing performance metrics but in knowing what the most meaningful metrics might be? While a "pages per day" metric might be nearly meaningless, a measure of decreased support activity might be (or might not be, depending...).

I think no one should argue that writing, whether technical or otherwise, is easily capable of being objectively measured, neither do I believe that no metrics are possible. In fact, as I have opined before in this forum, I think that meaningful metrics can and should be used.

For instance, let us assume you have built a project plan for a documentation set that gives various deadline goals for the entire project. Even the page-per-day metrics in that context can be very useful as a yardstick to measure progress toward those deadlines. Since release schedules are often fairly inflexible, knowing you're on plan is an incredibly useful--even necessary--bit of information!

Of course, in my experience, a measure of "raw" pages (unedited) is not enough. The editing step should also be included so that the measure is of pages of finished quality. If a team produces, say, ten pages per day but with a high error rate, that ten page measure is relatively meaningless.

Business fads abound, and mediocre managers do also. A mediocre manager implements the latest fad in a rote manner--often producing meaningless results. In the hands of management that clearly understands the tasks to be performed and the methods by which they can best be accomplished, meaningful metrics are often a worthwhile part of their tool chest.

In the hands of an incompetent, metrics are often simply "one more cross to bear".


-----Original Message from Michael Schiesl <michael -at- michaelwriting -dot- com>-----

> This is backwards. Writers should be working to complete deliverables
> that are accounted for in a project plan.

Amen. Some companies have gone too far by 'metricizing' everything. Metrics,
6-sigma, DMAIC, etc. was a great innovation for optimizing industrial
processes (i.e. optimizing the output of a production line which is making millions of
widgets per day). It's not a very effective way to improve manual production though.



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Re: Tracking document complexity: From: Michael Schiesl

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