Re: $ per word - quantifying TW

Subject: Re: $ per word - quantifying TW
From: "Dennis Hays/The Burden Lake Group, Ltd." <dlhays -at- IX -dot- NETCOM -dot- COM>
Date: Wed, 17 Jan 1996 19:44:06 -0500

At 10:01 AM 01/17/1996 PST, Dick Dimock wrote:
>The Second Tech Writer asks:

>> WHAT do we DO to quantify our production?????.....

>Second TW, old buddy, this quantification question
>has bugged me for 20 years. I have tried to quantify
>TWing as Pubs Manager, and have tried to quantify
>TWing as Writer.

>I have tried:
>page count,
>counting revisions,
>counting review comments,
>counting illustrations,
>counting times I question SMEs,
>counting inches of hardcopy stack,
>number of copies distributed,
>number of requests for information,
>milestone bonus points for reviews and publishing,

>and occasionally, counting words and keystrokes.

>I am not satisfied with any of them, and only somewhat
>satisfied with combinations of them. The right counts can
>give valuable insights as to what slows production, what
>speeds production, what should be pushed faster, what
>should be kicked out of the way.

>This is genuinely a Billion-Dollar question! And NOBODY
>NOTICES! We tippy-toe around this issue.

>It seems that if we measure each of the smaller actions going
>into doing a book, the resulting count *should* reflect the ??
>work?? effort?? time?? value?? effectiveness (

>There must be a composite of measurements that indicate
>REAL production, REAL effectiveness. And By Gosh/Goshess
>this group is the right group to figger it out!

>If we don't, we are stuck with the time-worn Final Pages
>Per Day, with all the problems it entails.

>There's GOT to be a useful way. I wonder what Joanne
>Hackos would say if she were asked? What do you other
>sage techwr-lers have to say?

>THIS is the key**, gang! This is how we get our professional
>recognition! Bottom Line Effectiveness - how do we quantify,
>how do we improve?

>Arlan, you typed before about our contribution to the
>company/client Bottom Line profitability. Any thoughts?

>Others have mentioned it too. The Intel / HTML study IS
>this topic.

>Sorry I didn't have time to make this more concise, but
>I HAD to jump in here. This is vital**.

How do you measure the effort put forth in endless meetings,
the numerous drafts,
the red ink,
the politics,
the change orders,
the re-writes,
the number of cups of coffee,
the sleepless nights,
the stacks of reference material,
the missed meals...

There's no method I know to quantify a writer's work. The only fair way,
IMO, is to pay the writer for the time he/she devotes to the project. Now,
the question is, "how much per hour/day/week/month; or how about flat rate
(not me!).

I'll chargel by the word, but I'll also charge for the time listening to the
engineers discuss whether the "Close" button goes to left or right of the
"Save" button.

Bottom line: it's not fair to the writer or the employer to trade word for
dollars. Either one or the other feels they haven't got their money's worth
at the end of any day. It's never worked for me. Nor has flat
rate--especially with the amount of change orders I need to document.

Just some of my thoughts...

-------------> Dennis Hays, The Burden Lake Group, Ltd.
-------------> Voice: 518/477-6388 Fax: 518/477-5006
-------------> E-Mail: dlhays -at- ix -dot- netcom -dot- com
------------->"God doesn't want you to be certain.
That's why He gave you a brain."

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