TechWhirl (TECHWR-L) is a resource for technical writing and technical communications professionals of all experience levels and in all industries to share their experiences and acquire information.
For two decades, technical communicators have turned to TechWhirl to ask and answer questions about the always-changing world of technical communications, such as tools, skills, career paths, methodologies, and emerging industries. The TechWhirl Archives and magazine, created for, by and about technical writers, offer a wealth of knowledge to everyone with an interest in any aspect of technical communications.
I don't think it is so unreasonable to use the dev.time as a basis for
estimating doc. time.
As per your example:
>1. Require a definition of the number of changed/added
> user interface screens/menus from the devl. group.
Let's say 10 added/modified screens/menus,
>2. Multiply that count by two for the number of total
> work days.
10x2=20 work days
>3. Add a day for each eight hours of estimated time for
> the devl. effort for a final "multiplier".
Let's say it took 30 days to develop these 10 screens/menus. I'm now up to
50 work days to document 10 screens/menus? At 5 days/week that gives me 2.5
months! I don't want to seem harsh here, but that's insane.
I just updated a manual where 57 windows have been modified/added (not
counting dialogs, message boxes, print preview windows), all in 101.75 hours
(that's just over 12 work days). That included learning the software (since
it was just move to our dept.), a major restructuring of the document,
adding index entries as the previous TW didn't have any, as well as
step-by-step instructions on how to perform tasks.
We don't currently estimate our doc. time based on dev. time. We just make a
wild guess based on previous projects.
Where I worked previously, my boss used to work for a major consulting firm,
and he said that they always allotted 30% of the development time for
documentation. So when I had to develop and document a software, I used that
scheme (just to test it), and it was right on the spot. ;-)
Josee Sevigny Technical Writer
M3i Systems Inc., Longueuil, QC
e-m joseey -at- m3isystems -dot- qc -dot- ca
Tel (514) 928-4600
Fax (514) 328-8785