Re: Avoiding documentation bottlenecks while maintaining quality

Subject: Re: Avoiding documentation bottlenecks while maintaining quality
From: Abby Klemmer <aklemmer -at- factset -dot- com>
To: techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
Date: Mon, 24 Sep 2007 13:27:48 -0400

Sylvia wrote:

> What is the best way to meet the deadlines (management-wise) without
> sacrificing quality or contents and without being a slave driver? How do
> avoid bottlenecks and get the work done well and efficiently?

Sylvia - many of the replies you've already received have been spot-on
(i.e., variations on the "Good/Fast/Cheap - pick two" principle;
prioritizing the must-haves vs. the nice-to-have deliverables.)

I just wanted to add my two cents (having worked both in TWing and in TW
management over the years) -

1. Perfection is the enemy of progress. Sometimes "Good Enough" is, well,
good enough. This is not an excuse for putting lousy docs out there, but
often there is a lot of value in providing a deliverable on-time that's
95% of "where you'd like it to be" vs. delaying a release in order to get
that last 5%. (Of course, it's the manager's job to find this balance and
negotiate it, especially if there are people in the equation who are
hell-bent on progress [upper mgmt] or perfection [TWers].)

2. Use the Internet for its strengths; keep any "works in progress"
available online. For example, if you absolutely need a printed User Guide
to go out with the product release, get that done; then, continue work on
less-immediate needs -- for example, flesh out an FAQ section that's
available on your company website - you can continuously add to this as
your customer support department fields questions.

3. (This may seem kind of out-of-left-field, but it can really simplify
things in a time crunch.) USE STANDARD, "PLAIN JANE" EVERYTHING - For
fonts, use Arial or Times New Roman. For page sizes, use 8.5x11 (I'm
assuming you're in the U.S.) Don't use the Univers Condensed font family
on a custom-sized paper with bleed-tabs that must print to the edge of the
paper, custom Wingdings instead of plain bullet-points, yadda yadda yadda.
Yes, it looks really cool but if you anticipate time-crunches, all this
stuff is just not worth it - it's virutally guaranteed to cause headaches
and delays, just at the precise moment when you really need to rush....
i.e., at the 11th hour, someone in QA finds a typo; your assistant fixes
it in the document and re-PDFs everything without realizing that he/she
doesn't have the special fonts installed on his/her PC; and madness ensues
when the printer delivers 25,000 manuals that look like a preschooler with
Quark Xpress authored them. Stick to the basics - it will simplify your
life considerably.

Abby Klemmer
Knowledge Specialist
FactSet Research Systems Inc.
* aklemmer -at- factset -dot- com


Create HTML or Microsoft Word content and convert to Help file formats or
printed documentation. Features include support for Windows Vista & 2007
Microsoft Office, team authoring, plus more.

True single source, conditional content, PDF export, modular help.
Help & Manual is the most powerful authoring tool for technical
documentation. Boost your productivity!

You are currently subscribed to TECHWR-L as archive -at- web -dot- techwr-l -dot- com -dot-

To unsubscribe send a blank email to
techwr-l-unsubscribe -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
or visit

To subscribe, send a blank email to techwr-l-join -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com

Send administrative questions to admin -at- techwr-l -dot- com -dot- Visit for more resources and info.


Previous by Author: Re: Re: Camtasia, Captivate, and other commercial or freebies
Next by Author: Microsoft Word Questions
Previous by Thread: RE: Avoiding documentation bottlenecks while maintaining quality
Next by Thread: Avoiding documentation bottlenecks while maintaining quality? (take II)

What this post helpful? Share it with friends and colleagues:

Sponsored Ads