Re: Tracking document complexity

Subject: Re: Tracking document complexity
From: Dick Margulis <margulis -at- fiam -dot- net>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Fri, 21 Nov 2003 13:51:03 -0500

Anameier, Christine A - Eagan, MN wrote:

What I *did* suggest in my post was that the easiest ways to quantify
tech writer output--number of words, number of pages, hours per
page--are also the most meaningless.

Yes, those are the most meaningless. And customer satisfaction is the most meaningful, as you suggest--IF the documents are actually used by customers to find answer to things they would otherwise be calling customer support for..

However, that's a minority of the overall document collection for most product development organizations. And it may even be a minority of the documents produced by tech writers. I still maintain that from the point of view of managing a product development pipeline, document quality is secondary to timely completion. Yes, if customers start returning their DVD players because they can't figure out how to plug them in, document quality is important. And if they start returning them because the design spec omitted the On/Off button and they were manufactured without one, document quality is important. Otherwise, management mostly wants to know that adequate documents were done on time throughout the development lifecycle--that there were no bottlenecks, in other words, that could be blamed on a tech writer.

Reiterating what I said the other day (actually, this is the first time I've repeated it, so maybe I'm just iterating for the first time and not really reiterating), a metric that looks at document completion date relative to the anticipated completion date can be used to adjust the anticipated cycle time for similar documents in future projects, or it can be used to detect a pattern of slowness on the part of one group of writers relative to another group of writers. The goal is to have a project template that embodies realistic predictions about how long stuff actually takes and to have writers who can meet those realistic deadlines pretty consistently.

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Re: Tracking document complexity: From: Anameier, Christine A - Eagan, MN

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