Managing documentation projects in nearly any environment


Published on

Your documentation projects need to be successful. Success doesn't happen accidentally, it happens from planning and managing. And in the 21st Century, the ways to plan and manage projects is changing. We have to change, too.
So, what do we need to think about? Agile? Waterfall? User-generated content? Wikis? How can we update the way we've historically managed our projects to help us in this new century? How do we manage projects when the definition of "user content" is changing under our feet?
This talk discusses some answers to these and other challenges.

Published in: Technology
  • Be the first to comment

  • Be the first to like this

No Downloads
Total views
On SlideShare
From Embeds
Number of Embeds
Embeds 0
No embeds

No notes for slide

Managing documentation projects in nearly any environment

  1. 1. Managingdocumentationprojects in nearly anyenvironment Sharon Burton 951-369-8590 Twitter: sharonburton
  2. 2. Thank you for having me!▪ Sharon Burton▪ Been in the Communication industry for 20 years▪ Solve business content and social media problems ▪ Content strategy consultant ▪ Teach communication at various universities▪ New book 8 Steps to Amazing Webinars ▪ XML Press and STC! ▪ Available from Amazon and Barnes and Noble as ebook and hard copy
  3. 3. What is “User Content”?And the definition is probably changing as wetalk
  4. 4. User content▪ Content created to face the customer ▪ May be content your team or company is creating ▪ Maybe content your customers are creating ▪ Social media ▪ User forums ▪ Blogs ▪ Wikis ▪ Notes passed around the office ▪ More ▪ I sometimes call this content “ad hoc”
  5. 5. You may or may not have controlover this content Control Place Y/N? User forums you host Y User forums you don’t host N (LinkedIn, for example) Your wiki Y Someone else’s wiki N Online help (including comments) Y Community blogs N Corporate blogs ? And so on
  6. 6. Because we don’t have enough to do▪ We are increasingly being asked to be responsible for user generated content in some manner ▪ That which we have control over, we can ▪ But if we don’t have control…▪ If you don’t have control, then stop looking at it ▪ It just makes you frustrated▪ Customers are willing for “ad hoc” content be messy and ugly ▪ Or wrong▪ Our content is the official content
  7. 7. What is Success?To have a “successful” project, we need todefine what that means
  8. 8. Setting expectations▪ When you say “successful project”, what do you mean? ▪ On time ▪ Within budget ▪ The content you said you would deliver ▪ Accurate ▪ Reduces support costs ▪ High quality ▪ Other▪ These can all be how you define success ▪ Or some of these ▪ Or none of these
  9. 9. Your management has a definition▪ At least for other projects in the company▪ Use that definition ▪ Extend it to include what you mean, too▪ It’s going to change over time▪ It may change per deliverable ▪ Social media content may have a different metric than internally created content ▪ English content may be different than localized content
  10. 10. After you define it, evangelize it▪ Now that you have a definition for success ▪ Evangelize that definition▪ Not everyone will get on board ▪ But you can point to it ▪ “I understand you want X, but we have decided Y.”▪ People need to know what success looks like for docs and how that happens ▪ How docs happens in a mystery for most organizations
  11. 11. Ways to evangelize▪ Status reports▪ Project reports▪ Staff meetings▪ Corporate newsletter▪ Planning documents▪ Chatting in the lunchroom▪ Soliciting opinions from others ▪ Ignoring the ones you don’t like or are stupid
  12. 12. Planning is still planningYou already know part of the way there
  13. 13. Create a quality metric▪ Set up the basic characteristics for 3 or more quality levels for your publications projects▪ Level 1 (Minimal): No index, no examples, spell- checked only▪ Level 2 (Good): Verified against the software, indexed, spell-checked, copyedited▪ Level 3 (Best): Optimized for readability, comprehensibility, and localization
  14. 14. Hours per page metric still works▪ When developing a standard work per page estimate for publications in your organization, remember to include the time it takes to: ▪ Manage the project ▪ Research and interview ▪ Write/edit ▪ Illustrate ▪ Proofread ▪ Translate ▪ Prepare for publication/Publish to multiple targets ▪ Attend project meetings ▪ Attend review sessions
  15. 15. Example average hours per ?Information Type Hours per unitUser guide 5 hours per pageTraining Guide 30 hrs per 1 training hoursContent Sensitive help 3 hours per topicContent to multi-publish 4 hours per topicClean up community generated 1 hour per 500 wordscontent
  16. 16. Common estimating errors▪ First non-zero probability - The first possible date that the project could be completed▪ Guess factor - An optimistic time plus some added factor▪ Devoutly desired results - A guess that makes everyone happy
  17. 17. Evaluating complexity▪ External factors ▪ Internal factors▪ Product stability ▪ Technical experience▪ Information ▪ Writing and document availability design experience▪ Prototype availability ▪ Audience understanding▪ SME availability ▪ Team experience▪ Effectiveness of reviews
  18. 18. Product development environments▪ Waterfall ▪ Iterative, lots of planning ▪ Phases of projects ▪ Typically in government and hardware ▪ More stable but slower▪ Agile ▪ Customer stories drive development ▪ Little planning – called sprints ▪ Typically in software ▪ Less stable and fast▪ Mix of both ▪ Pick the attributes you like best from each and go
  19. 19. Regardless of the environment▪ Do some planning▪ Agile can be tougher but manage content by sprint ▪ What are the customer stories? ▪ What content do the customers need in that story?▪ I have an Agile client ▪ Docs runs one agile release behind ▪ It keeps us sane ▪ Many times, we deliver up to date content ▪ But we have the expectation…
  20. 20. Deliverables, they area’changin’It’s a whole new world
  21. 21. Deliverables▪ Hard copy ▪ Multiple languages▪ PDF ▪ Device-sniffing content▪ Online help ▪ Write once, reuse many▪ Offline help ▪ And so much more▪ eBooks ▪ It’s a very exciting time!▪ Smart phones/devices▪ Tablets▪ HTML 5
  22. 22. The way we were▪ Doesn’t work any more▪ We don’t even call it “single-sourcing” anymore▪ It’s called “multi-channel publishing”▪ Creating content in a book metaphor is getting more and more expensive▪ It locks content into files ▪ You can’t reuse what you can’t get to▪ Perhaps it’s time to consider about new tools/technology
  23. 23. Thank you for your timeThoughts? Questions? Sharon Burton 951-369-8590 Twitter: sharonburton