Re: Managing Help Files

Subject: Re: Managing Help Files
From: Mitch Berg <mberg -at- IS -dot- COM>
Date: Thu, 10 Apr 1997 11:51:57 -0500

> I am currently working on a Help system for a very complex piece
of
> software.
>
> There have been two basic problems in the production schedule:
> first, I was given roughly one tenth of the time the project actually
would
> require (given its scope), and secondly, my project leader keeps changing
my
> ... I will be in the middle of setting up the browse sequences, or
> key words on one module when I am ordered to drop that and make something
> more up to date that 'will do' for almost immediate release. I will be
> proofing instructions against the current version of the software, when I
am
> informed that the new version will have entirely different menus, or that
> the base modules of the system have changed. (and so on, and so on
.........)

Three basic options:
1) Tangueray and Tonics. Lots of 'em. Dip into your 401K, if necessary.
2) Hollowpoints.
3) Start hiring more physically intimidating Help developers

Seriously - Such situations indicate of project management run amok, or an
extremely low value being placed on your job, sanity and working
conditions.

Not knowing how much organizational clout you have, I'd suggest a few
things:
* If you have minimal clout, I'd suggest trying to complete any relatively
stable chunks of the system as "standalone" help files, that can be
recombined into different projects as the exigencies of the moment
dictate. It's a kludge, but it may save SOME of your sanity... If you
have more than one person, perhaps put one person on finishing
the most stable pieces available, and the other on meeting fire
drills in the best manner possible. BTW, until you have
a relatively stable system, I'd disable browse sequences.
* If you have much clout (say, are a child of the CEO or a known
Mafia don), write the help, and make the developers code to
it. The Help will serve as the specification. Hey; it COULD
work...
>
> I am finding myself having to go over the same ground over and
over
> again as I'm am ordered to switch from one task to another, willy-nilly.
I
> also find myself loosing track of where I am.

This is typical in projects run in this manner. There IS no easy answer.

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