Re: Estimating Time

Subject: Re: Estimating Time
From: Robert Plamondon <robert -at- PLAMONDON -dot- COM>
Date: Fri, 31 Jan 1997 07:07:42 PST

Gina writes:

>I was recently asked to to an estimate for a new manual for our company (I
>am the lone tech writer, but I have many other projects than just our docs).
>We are currently porting our mapping software from DOS to NT 4.0 - big jump,
>no? Well, there were NO portions of the GUI ready before last week, and the
>release is April 30. The manual is currently 300 pages. (We are also
>including on-line help for the first time ever!) I tried to come up with
>estimates based on "Industry Standards", halved them, and still came up with
>times that kept me working until July. (I was also informed that since we
>were WAY over budget on recent renovations, a contractor was completely out
>of the question.) So I came back to the developers and said - "I'll work
>until the release and get as much as possible done." A crappy situation, but
>very real world.

It's a "real-world" situation only in badly managed companies. In well-
managed companies, the managers actually manage, and would either pony
up more resources for you, slip the project schedule to match reality,
or decide consciously to ship inadequate documentation, and then plan
to have the BEST inadequate documentation possible, given the limited
resources (plus some kind of plan to anticipate the problems and cover
them in a subsequent release or through technical support). Simply
exhorting people to do the impossibly by the deadline isn't management,
it's cheerleading. Not very good cheerleading, either.

-- Robert
Robert Plamondon, High-Tech Technical Writing, Inc.
36475 Norton Creek Road * Blodgett * Oregon * 97326
robert -at- plamondon -dot- com * (541) 453-5841 * Fax: (541) 453-4139

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