Building a documentation program requires scoping all elements of a writing project just before you begin the actual writing.
If you steer clear of this step, you run the danger of missing a important deliverable, or assuming that an additional group will jump in at the final minute and help you in finishing the documentation. This might perform in a smaller enterprise exactly where factors are additional versatile but if you perform in a approach-driven perform atmosphere, this is unlikely to take place.
Also, if you perform as a freelance writer or consultant, you will need to get these assumptions clarified just before you begin. Otherwise this might be disagreements among what the client expects of you and what you assumed of them. Get it all down on paper!
Inexperienced writers make the error of beginning their writing without having any organizing. Pretty quickly they loose their bearings and miss deadlines.
Let’s appear at how a documentation program, also recognized as a writing program, can support you handle writing projects, specially these that span many months and demand input from diverse writers, editors, reviewers and so forth.
Why organizing is so vital
Use the documentation program to outline YOUR specifications and the dangers that might arise if these are not met. Highlight the contingencies for each and every danger.
Right here are some standard specifications:
- three copies of Madcap Flare for writing On the web Assist
- Testers to test the final documents
- Graphic designer to prepare the imagery
- Safety clearance and authorization to go to the enterprise HQ
Other factors to contemplate might incorporate: access to physical buildings travel arrangements if the project requires travel.
Unless these are stated up front, your project runs the danger of missing deliverables, coming in late, generating invalid documents or requiring further sources to be completed on time.
Poor organizing will not inspire self-confidence in your manager and reflect poorly on you as a specialist writer.
Beginning a writing project
Just before beginning a huge-scale project, guarantee that your documentation program covers the following locations:
1. Communications – describe how you will inform the Project Manager, Group Leads and other parties on the status of each and every documentation deliverable. Failure to communicate project challenges early might lead to your, and other, deliverables missing their due dates.
Also, by pro-actively communicating the status of your project, such as what ever dangers/challenges that might arise, your colleagues will really feel that you are in manage of this project and have effectively managed each and every deadline.
2. Schedule – this element of the documentation program effects other departments. In right here you outline the quantity of days (man-hours) essential to comprehensive this project. This figure will be applied to prepare fees and project estimates.
Illustrate this by displaying the quantity of days for each and every writer by week, month and deliverable.
For instance, show that you will need Jane Royce for 90 perform days 30 days for each and every User, Admin and Set up guide. If vital, illustrate exactly where your project overlaps with an additional project and the contingencies you have recommended as a workaround. This might arise if your enterprise shares writers (and other causes) among projects.
3. Deliverables – supply precise specifics of the actual deliverables. It is not sufficient to say “we’re writing the guides for the subsequent three months”, you will need to break out each and every guide by formal title estimated web page count, word count, graphics web page size, tools, and delivery format.
Some documents might be delivered in Word, other people will be supplied as PDF, XML and On the web Assist. Make confident YOU realize precisely what is essential and program accordingly.
For instance: The final deliverables for the release of the Option two. are a Technique Admin Guide, On the web Assist, Datasheets, and a Rapid Begin Guide. These will be delivered in US English in PDF and On the web Assist format.
As soon as you have ready your documentation program, circulate it to all reviewers. Request that they overview it by a certain date – otherwise they might just ignore it.
4. Roles and Responsibilities – make it pretty clear what you anticipate from each and every group member through the course of a writing project. This indicates ALL contributors, not just your writing group.
Recognize what you anticipate from the testers, developers, designers, and most importantly, these who will overview the final documents. They have to agree to this just before the documentation program is signed off, otherwise your project is currently at danger.
5. Resource – outline all the sources you demand this incorporates human (writers and so on), application, hardware and other people as vital. For instance, you might will need Adobe Framemaker for writing extended documents. If so, what are the licensing fees? Can the spending budget afford this? You can not proceed unless you have received confirmation that funds will be allocated. Otherwise, you will need to appear at options.
Obtaining it signed off
Examine the feedback you get back and talk about what ever challenges that have arisen.
Confirm with them that they realize what is anticipated of them, specially if they are new to the enterprise and might be applied to diverse perform practices.
As soon as all are in agreement, update the final program and circulate it. You might want to publish it to the Intranet so it is quick to access.
Lastly, often leave some contingency for things you might have overlooked. No one particular will be upset if you come in just before schedule but there will be small sympathy if you come in late.
Give your project just about every possibility to good results.