Concurrent writing and revision

Subject: Concurrent writing and revision
From: Tom Campbell <tcampbell -at- WEATHER -dot- COM>
Date: Thu, 30 Jul 1998 09:32:03 -0400

I agree wholeheartedly with Geoff Hart's comments on the perils of unlimited revisions. I once managed a 2-person desktop publishing operation for a company of 150 people. We were using Interleaf to do almost all of the "typesetting" & layout of numerous newsletters, brochures, booklets, books, flyers, etc. We had some users who would give us massive headaches with endless revisions.

My first hurdle was trying to convince our users of the difference between revisions and corrections. I had to harp on this constantly before it began to sink in.

I also published a flow chart showing all the steps that went into the production of a document at that company (about 15 boxes, as I recall). With the support of my boss, we ultimately got buy-in from everybody that we would allow two scheduled revision steps on each job, and that we would correct any of our mistakes with no impact to the schedule. Additional revisions beyond the two scheduled steps could jeapordize the deadline.

This is even more lenient than the practice of most "real" printers, who charge the customer for *any* changes other than those that can be proven to be "printer's errors" (which are marked PE on proofs).

Unfortunately, in the company where I tried to make all this work, we had a very political environment. Some users would whine to their division vice president, who would whine to my division vice president, who then sheepishly cajole my boss into making me put other jobs on the back burner to get the whiner's ninth revision done. Of course, I took all the heat for any ensuing problems.

Somehow I stuck it out for 5 years; what was I thinking??

Anyway, my advice is this: get an agreement about the general schedule that all jobs should follow, and get ironclad buy-in from everybody that this is the way things will work, or you're going to be faced with the nightmares that I endured in that job.

Tom Campbell

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