works in progress

Subject: works in progress
From: Miki Magyar <miki -dot- d -dot- magyar -at- BANGATE1 -dot- TEK -dot- COM>
Date: Wed, 17 Apr 1996 11:33:01 MDT

KEG writes:
<What I am trying to do is write based on what the developer of the module
is telling me will be there and how it will work. This seems like a lot of
wasted effort and frustration to me, but I have been told to start
documenting the system now.>

It all hinges on what you mean by `documenting the system' - think of it as
a process rather than a product, and it makes all the difference.

As Bonni Graham correctly pointed out, you can use this preliminary scoping
phase to work on tasks like audience analysis. You can also use it to
educate your non-TW co-workers as to what's involved in `documenting the
system'. To do this, you will need to keep track of each revision, showing
what work was done, how long it took, etc. This is called document control
or revision control. It may not be necessary to get sign-off on all the
changes, but it is certainly in your best interest to note who said to do
it!Save the pieces - it pays, IMHO.

If you don't have a formal process for new product development in place,
now is the time to start one. It should show critical dependencies - like I
can't document the features until they are there! - and drop dead dates for
production. JoAnn Hackos' book will give you some good ideas.

And finally, take your own good advice - if it seems like a waste of time,
don't do it. Instead, look for ways to document the process and do the
high-level organizational tasks until the content is fixed. If possible,
get the SMEs to agree to format and organization ahead of time. Point out
that it's easier for them to fill in the blanks than create from scratch.

Good luck! Sounds like you're working for the organizationally impaired.
Think of it as a learning experience <grin>.

Miki Magyar
Technical Communications Department (that's me)
<insert usual disclaimers and cryptic quote>
Miki -dot- D -dot- Magyar -at- Tek -dot- com

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