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.
Subject:Re: Estimating time From:John Ahlstrom <jahlstro -at- CISCO -dot- COM> Date:Thu, 30 Jan 1997 08:54:50 -0800
Robert Plamondon wrote:
>>Does anyone have any methods of estimating the time required for a
>>documentationproject, for both Winhelp and paper manuals? I've
>>always been good at doing a thumbnail estimate of time requirements,
>>but want to put a little more, ahem, timeinto it.
>My method is extremely straightforward: I use past history when estimating
>future results. For example, I can divide the total number of hours I spent
>on a project by its page length, and this gives me the number of hours
>per page. With a few projects of different types, I end up with a catalog
>of completion rates. These are reasonably accurate most of the time.
>It's important to keep in mind that these estimates are just estimates,
>and the only way to meet these estimates right on the money is to fine-tune
>the definition of the job -- adding or removing work in order to match
You have to have comparable projects. Averages across all
projects are dangerous to your health, welfare and your
Would you ask a chef the average time to prepare a dish? If you
got a number, say 1 hour, would that help you estimate the time
to prepare scrambled eggs for breakfast or roast turkey for
Would you ask a surgeon the average time to do an operation? If
you got a number, say 3 hours, would that help you estimate
the time for an appendectomy, a 3-way heart bypass, as heart
You can keep averages, but please keep them by project type.
jahlstrom -at- cisco -dot- com
Paranoia means having all the facts.
-- Wm Burroughs