docs to development ratio

Subject: docs to development ratio
From: Helen Hegelheimer <hxh -at- FORMTEK -dot- COM>
Date: Thu, 28 Mar 1996 16:53:34 -0500

Dennis Hays asked:

> >For instance, if it's estimated that an enhancement to a given software
> >system is going to take 1,000 man hours to design and code; can we estimate
> >how many hours to budget for a user manual (user only; no technical
> >reference or system admin manuals)?

Richard Mateosian replied in part:

> There's no way to determine this information from the number of programming
> hours. ...RM

I disagree with Richard. It is difficult to estimate
a project, especially at the beginning. Technical Communicators must
develop estimating formulas if we are ever to achieve any status within
our organizations. The formulas can be honed to your particular products
and based on prior experience. For example, our product uses customized
widgets that differ from customer to customer. Through experience, we have
determined that documenting these customized widget takes 3-5 hours
depending on the detail of the widget.

As a rule, my boss and I estimate doc's effort to be half of the
development hours (and only the development hours). Estimating projects is
an extremely important part of our profession. And in my opinion, is the
key to achieving the corporate respect that seems to allude us all too often.

Helen Hegelheimer
hxh -at- formtek -dot- com

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