Re: MS Word 2003 - Working without a template

Subject: Re: MS Word 2003 - Working without a template
From: "Jonathan West" <jwest -at- mvps -dot- org>
To: TECHWR-L <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Sun, 13 Jan 2008 23:53:56 +0000

> What is a complete and incomplete template?

A complete template is one with all the features you decide you need.
An incomplete template is one with only some of them.

> It looked like it was a
> never-ending project. He did a lot of "nice to have" VBA things. He is a
> programmer in his previous career and he likes that kind of stuff but I
> can't afford investing time in this.

Doesn't matter. If he is producing extra productivity for himself as a
result of the template, you are not in a position to complain. If you
do complain, then he will soon be brushing up his resume and you will
be falling even further behind because you have lost half your writing

> I don't see productivity improvements thanks the the template.

Have you actually made any attempt to look? Have you made any attempt
at all to ask him what he was trying to achieve by it? By the sounds
of it, you have already decided that what he has been doing is a waste
of time.

It is perfectly possible that he has been overdoing it with regard to
VBA features. But not necessarily. I do a lot of templates for
companies, and I have a library of nearly 8000 lines of VBA code used
for template features. Simple letter templates of course don't use all
of that, but complex report or structured document templates with
multiple sections, numbered headings, tables, bulleted and numbered
lists, cover page, landscape & portrait pages etc use just about all
of it.

> How
> productive can you possibly be when the requirements never stop, the
> development keeps growing, and the features too? I mean, there is still so
> much we can do. How do you know when it is too much?

If you want to get control over the process you have to engage with
him. If you continue your hardline and frankly misguided opposition to
templates, one of two things will happen. Either he will find time to
continue private development which only he benefits from, or he will
leave and find another job with a more enlightened boss.

If you decide you are going to engage with him over the template, you
can gain the benefits and you can gain control of the development
process and decide on its priorities. I promise you the benefits exist
if you are prepared to invest a little time and effort. Your choice.

> I am still racing like crazy. I don't mind applying the template and
> learning how to use it.

That is a start. Have you said that to the contractor?

Here is what I suggest. Take the phones off the hook for 2 hours, and
have him demonstrate what the template does. Have him show you what
productivity improvements he has achieved with it. Run a comparative
test - you formatting 10 pages of document without the template and
him formatting the same 10 pages with it, and compare times.

If he isn't faster than you, then you can with perfect justification
tell him to stop working on the template.

If he is faster than you,. then he deserves to be listened to
carefully. After all, if you are ever going to get on top of stuff,
you need every productivity improvement that is available. You want
that productivity improvement for both of you. As his boss, you are
entitled to set priorities as to what additional features should be
added to the template, when they should be added and in what order.
Each feature added should be based on an agreed justification, in
terms either of productivity increase or quality improvement (i.e in
terms of document consistency)

> How do you measure what is reasonable for one writer to do in a certain
> amount of time?

You don't measure what is reasonable. You measure what is being
achieved. You decide what is reasonable. There is plenty in the
techwrl archives on writer productivity, I shan't rehash it all.

Jonathan West

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!

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MS Word 2003 - Working without a template: From: SB
Re: MS Word 2003 - Working without a template: From: Jonathan West

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