Re: Need input

Subject: Re: Need input
From: Sharon Burton-Hardin <sharonburton -at- EMAIL -dot- MSN -dot- COM>
Date: Sun, 9 May 1999 21:00:10 -0700

Sadly, this project has been unfocused and unplanned since the beginning.
And curve balls keep getting thrown. We had a project plan and a doc plan. I
forced that level of planning, hoping it might help. These were all agreed
to and the cavaets and dependencies agreed upon - things like you must have
a stable front end for us to write 450 pages of doc in 90 days for a project
that has no design or features spec. They agreed and told us 3 times that
now the UI was stable and the engineers would document any changes. Then the
CEO would see it and throw a fit. Or the achetecture they agreed upon didn't
work because they forgot something that meant the front end had to...
Redesign time and no one logging changes for anything. We quit writing for 6
weeks at the beginning of the year cause things were changing too fast. We
still don't have a stable UI for 2 com objects and they want to ship this
thing this month. I cannot make it clear to them that this has all cost them
money. Re-writing chapters several times, AFTER you tell the writers it is
stable, costs money.

We threw quality and accuracy out the door about a month ago. We all agreed
that this was not possible, given the state of the product and the massive
changes. Just something at this point is all they want. They want the help
to be accurate and on time but that is not possible at this point, either.
They do not have the time to meet with the docs group to talk about this
until we release the second beta sometime in the next few weeks. Maybe then
they can sit down and look at it.

However, it does take about 6 hours to go from a bunch of chapters in a book
file with the wrong graphics and incorrect page numbers, incorrect chapters
numbers, etc to a clean looking PDF. I can show several years of this
process for this client and the hours it takes. Abotu 6 hours. This need a
manual at the drop of a hat is new and was not planned for. Needless to say,
when they couldn't get it with no warning late Friday afternoon, they were
not happy. Nor am I. I can do a PDF every 2 days but they had to tell me
that the plan had changed. Now that I know, I will make sure that they have
a PDF every other day, ready to go.

I am really tired of this project and just want it to be over. I have
rearranged my life several times to be ready for betas that never happened,
releases that didn't occur, builds that weren't. Everyone on the project -
enginners, writers, everyone - is so tired of the whole thing.


Sharon Burton-Hardin
President of the Inland Empire chapter of the STC
Anthrobytes Consulting
Home of RoboNEWS(tm), the unofficial RoboHELP newsletter
Check out!

----- Original Message -----
From: Andrew Plato <intrepid_es -at- YAHOO -dot- COM>
To: <TECHWR-L -at- LISTSERV -dot- OKSTATE -dot- EDU>
Sent: Sunday, 09 May, 1999 1:27 PM
Subject: Re: Need input

| I feel your pain Sharon. I have clients that pull this crap all the time.
| Even the good ones. I usually have the same answer: time and money.
| "Time and money can solve anything. However, since time is running out as
| money, we must find a compromise. Here are my suggestions for solving this
| dilemma:"
| I think they have a valid point about having a doc ready at any moment.
| many of my clients, prior to FCS, they'll often need beta copies or copies
| give to big customers. Naturally, they also want to show them that there
| documentation being done.
| So I agree with them that there should always be a doc ready to go out the
| - even if it is incomplete. With my clients, when deadlines are close, I
| doing drops every few days of the material. If they want a current
| there is always one that, at worst, is a few days old. You might want to
| generating PDFs of the docs every few days, or at meaningful intervals.
| If it is taking a day or more to publish a doc, you need to find a way to
| shorten the turn around time. If not for this project then for the next.
I am
| doing a 1000+ page doc set with one other writer for a client right now .
| can make a drop in about an hour. Our docs are all in Word and we do PDFs
| well. It is important to have an established build procedure.

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