Estimation of the number of pages to be written per day?

Subject: Estimation of the number of pages to be written per day?
From: Geoff Hart <ghart -at- videotron -dot- ca>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Wed, 22 Dec 2004 09:51:49 -0500

Abhijit Sinha wondered: <<1. How do you estimate the optimum number of pages that a technical writer may write per day with all information available using MS Word, RoboHelp, and Framemaker so as to generate minimum re-work after review?>>

How? You ask each writer to track their writing productivity for 6 months to 1 year*, taking care to distinguish between the different types of writing they do: record separate times for reference material (e.g., reporting the values permitted for a field), explanatory material (e.g., explaining the metaphor for an interface or the context for a procedure), and procedural material (numbered steps), as well as for any other types of writing you expect to produce (e.g., hazard warnings, jokes, screenshots). Estimate the mean plus or minus standard deviation so you know both how long something typically takes and the worst-case scenario (i.e., a productivity equal to the mean minus 1-2 standard deviations).

* This period is entirely arbitrary, but it does give you a long enough period to capture most of the variability you can expect. Since you probably don't have 6 months in which to collect this data, start collecting it right now: At the end of day 1 of your work, you have a crude estimate of your productivity. Use that to predict your schedule. Tomorrow, collect more data and add that to day 1's data to create a slightly more realistic average. Readjust your schedule based on that average. Repeat these steps until you have 6 months of data, or until your mean and standard deviation stop changing. A spreadsheet is an essential tool for this kind of work.

Next, you carefully estimate the number of items of reference, explanatory, and procedural material (plus others) that you're responsible for creating: count the number of fields in dialog boxes, the number of explanations required, and the number of steps in all the procedures (plus any other types of material), and multiply this by your average productivity for that type of writing. Add in a factor to account for "unexpected delays": this equals 1-2 standard deviations, depending on how unpredictable your work environment will be.

Don't forget to add in time for rewriting material after it has been reviewed by subject-matter experts and editors. How long? Follow the same approach.

<<2. Can u please let me know if there are any standards, methods, links that provides u such standard measurements or estimations to plan work for your team?>>

There are no useful standards, because any such standard represents a wide range of writing skills, subject matters, and difficulty levels. The more your situation differs from the situation used to generate the standard, the less relationship the standard bears to the productivity you can expect in your situation.

--Geoff Hart ghart -at- videotron -dot- ca
(try geoffhart -at- mac -dot- com if you don't get a reply)



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Estimation of the number of pages to be written per day: From: Abhijit Sinha

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