Productivity Formulas

Subject: Productivity Formulas
From: Susan Peradze <susan -dot- peradze -at- PERI -dot- COM>
Date: Thu, 10 Dec 1998 11:11:53 -0500

Many thanks to all of you who took the time to respond to my posting
requesting feedback about determining tech writing productivity by page
count. I was asked to summarize the responses, and will gladly oblige.

Most respondants felt that determining productivity by page count was an
inaccurate, useless, and (as one writer put it) basically sadistic
exercise. A number of you agreed that productivity, measured by the
quantity of anything, is not appropriate for technical writers as
individuals nor as a group. One self-proclaimed cynic recommended that,
if we are forced to justify our existence using productivity formulas,
we should make sure to use formulas that will make our group look very
productive! Most of you felt that productivity should be viewed in terms
of quality rather than quantity. Almost all of you recommended the JoAnn
Hackos book, "Managing Documentation Projects". A couple of pragmatists
recognized that we are sometimes forced to comply with upper
management's views of productivity, regardless of what our own opinions
are about these views. Sometimes, at the higher levels, where knowledge
of our subject matter is low and the need to rush through decisions is
high, the bottom line (numbers and dollars) is the only thing even
considered. It's page count or nothing!

Our group plans on developing some new ways of defining our productivity
next year. We hope to influence the managers closest to us to see the
value in changing the way "productivity" in technical writing is viewed
in our organization. I'll keep you posted on any new developments.

Sue Peradze

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