Re: Estimating Quality Documentation?

Subject: Re: Estimating Quality Documentation?
From: "Anthony Markatos" <tonymar -at- hotmail -dot- com>
To: SteveFJong -at- aol -dot- com, techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com
Date: Tue, 14 Sep 1999 15:23:42 PDT

Anthony Markatos <tonymar -at- hotmail -dot- com> asked:

[I]f quality documentation takes time and has a minimum number of pages, why do all the Technical Writing experts advocate estimating techniques based upon page count?

Steven Jong responded:

At one level this is simply a flawed syllogism. The measure of document quality is not size, either short or long.

Tony Markatos responds:

Quality documents have a minimum number of pages irregardless of whether the required minimum is 5000 pages or 5 pages.

Steve Jong said:

In our profession, the output is pages (or their e-equivalent). I can hardly imagine any other way to estimate how long a project will take or how many people it will require (which are process questions).

Tony Markatos:

I have found that the correlation between page count and quality & time to be low. Often very low. There are much better estimating methods (i.e., methods that better fit within the tenants of the Capability Maturity Model). My approach is as follows:

1.) I create data flow diagrams to "flush-out" all essential tasks and their interrelationships. (Often, I find that proper scoping-out of the project is the most important thing that has to be done in creating estimates.)

Note: A task oriented analysis approach is very easily translated into a very task oriented organization for the manual -- the best type of orgainzation.

2.) Through multiple iterrations, I re-partion the data flow diagrams until each task is "chunked" to require about a page of written procedure -- giving me the total number of pages required.

3.) I know from past experience about how long it takes to create a page of text.

3.) Presto! Through a very rigorous engineering approach, (not a touchy-feely guess based upon past experience), I have an estimate that I feel very confident with.

Tony Markatos
(tonymar -at- hotmail -dot- com)

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