Technical/Development Documentation

Subject: Technical/Development Documentation
From: Penn Brumm <penn -at- HEALTHEON -dot- COM>
Date: Tue, 24 Mar 1998 14:56:58 -0800

Michael Collier wrote:
...I'd like to hear experiences from others who are working or have worked on projects in the early stages of
development, and how they have used requirements and other development docs in producing user documentation and help. Any experiences, caveats, other things I should be considering are appreciated....

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

If you have requirements, plus high-level and low-level documentation, consider yourself in Seventh Heaven!  The company where I now work is the first one in almost 20 years who does things the "right way" even though there is an agressively short schedule here for everything.

Here's some suggesions:

1. Use the requirements document to establish a matrix of "what's wanted;" list the items in the left column.  Not every project will incorporate each and every item in the requirements; however, you can later use what becomes a "coverage document."  If you show you can produce a coherent coverage document, you will probably find yourself being considered a valued resource.

2. Next, take the high-level document(s) and list all the feature-function to be produced across the top of the matrix.

3. Go down the left-hand list (the requirements) and place some check in the box under the feature/function if there is a match.

4. Go through the low-level documents.  Do the same cross-referencing as in step #3.

5. Give a copy of your coverage document to:
        your manager
        the development manager
        the project manager
        the tech lead

6. Indicate on your copy of the coverage doc which current hardcopy and which current helps need to be updated.  Also indicate which aspects needs new information.  This gives you a good feel for the amount of work that needs to be done.

Following these steps give you a headstart as to what will-be/should-be in the user documentation and in the helps.  If your manager requests a schedule, you build one for him/her, based on what you have.  If you are new on the job, ask your manager for assistance in planning time for the work that needs to be done.  Managers are often underutilized resources for employees.

If I can help any more, please let me know.

Penn Brumm

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