Productivity (was Re: Striving To Increase The Page Count) Was: Estimation of the number of pages...

Subject: Productivity (was Re: Striving To Increase The Page Count) Was: Estimation of the number of pages...
From: Ned Bedinger <doc -at- edwordsmith -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Mon, 03 Jan 2005 02:56:04 +0000


Suzanne -dot- Cole -at- pattersondental -dot- com wrote:

Clear, concise, navigable and carefully illustrated documents are more
likely to be read and used, thus meeting the reader's need. That's the
entire purpose of our documentation; we don't provide it as a "CYA"


Your comment about CYA is the bullseye, thank you for bringing it out.

I tried using page count once as CYA, though perhaps you wouldn't agree that it was CYA. It was like this:

In an annual review, a manager once evaluated my 'productivity'. We had no established criteria for evaluating productivity--none had been explained, discussed, or agreed to before the review period. No explanation was provided even when I asked for an explanation during the review. So I asked my HR rep to clue me on any corporate 'productivity' standards or criteria, but there were none for tech writers.

Whoa! I do not ever like to be rated (especially where bonuses are affected by my rating), on any subjective terms like this. Why should there be any abstraction that can't be put into clear criteria? What manager is so good that they can be trusted to "just know" about tech writer productivity, without establishing the sort of criteria or goals that tech writers can incorporate into goals?

I felt that if my productivity was being evaluated, the evaluation should obviously somehow reflect what I had produced during the review period.

So, I assembled my body of work for the review period (including source material, reviewed drafts and completed docs, all of my weekly reports to management, all project-related correspondence), and created a summary, itemized according to the standards I myself use (new pages, edited pages, and new conceptual work like diagrams), and reported back to the manager, who then claimed to have "not the slightest idea" whether my output, in the terms I presented it, was normal or above/below normal. Yet I was rated on 'productivity'. Grrr! Go figure.

I would expect any assessment of tech writer productivity to be accounted for in some quantifiable terms. I am a nose-to-the-stone hard worker (if I'm on the clock, I definitely am doing something closely related to manuscript work), so I'm not afraid of what such a summary accounting would reveal, and I think the notion of page count productivity is apt for this sort of assessment.

Of course, there are other considerations that might influence the way page count is interpreted, but I want to suggest that some sort of quantization (and I think page count fills the bill) should be well represented whenever it becomes necessary to talk about tech writer productivity. And of course, whatever is to be quantified should be established and agreed to beforehand.


Med Bedinger

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References:
Re: Striving To Increase The Page Count Was: Estimation of the number of pages...: From: Suzanne . Cole
Re: Striving To Increase The Page Count Was: Estimation of the number of pages...: From: Dick Margulis

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