You Want it When?

Subject: You Want it When?
From: Scott Goodhue <goodhue -at- SMTPGATE -dot- DISCLOSURE -dot- COM>
Date: Wed, 18 Oct 1995 15:54:39 EST


I have often run across threads relating to project management for
documentation and they have been informative. I've also flipped
through recent years' past Annual STC Conference papers. However, my
specific subinterest of late concerns turnaround estimation.
Certainly the variables change from project to project, however, I'm
looking for a proven formula(e) to back my projections.

One paper in the STC Proceedings abstract mentioned Rand Corporation's
Wideband Delphi. It's mentioned but not explained. Is anyone
familiar with it? I also encountered one regarding Martin Marietta's
findings for proposal writing. They found an average time of 4.2
hrs/pg, using the averages of editing/art/layout/print.

I'm unsure how reflective proposal page estimates are of user manual
page estimates. The threads I've seen on online rate it as taking
longer, comparing a topic to a hardcopy page.

The type of material to be written/edited must also play a factor.
How familiar you are with the subject can be a variable as well,
especially if you are reliant on other sources of expertise to answer
your uncertainties.

Estimation formula(e) can serve to determine whether a request is
reasonable and justify the amount of production time required. A
drawback can be establishing an expected rate that other writers have
trouble matching or find easy surpassing. An outside consultancy, for
example, gave an estimate for a help system that I had to throw
together at breakneck in about a fourth of their bid time <scowl>. Of
course, they probably had to factor in other clients.

Also, if project managers see that the amount of time projected
compared to actual time is consecutively beaten, the estimations will
start to look overblown. Put in continuous process improvement and
you could have a Demingesque nightmare -- Karoshi (sp.?) -- death by

Any suggestions for a happy medium? If you don't have a particular
formula, how about projections of a reasonable daily max of
pages/online topics?

Scott Goodhue
Disclosure (the company, not the movie!)
sgoodhue -at- disclosure -dot- com

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