Managing documentation projects in nearly any environment

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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.


  • 1. Managingdocumentationprojects in nearly anyenvironmentSharon Burton951-369-8590Twitter:

2. Thank you for having me! Sharon Burton Been in the Communication industryfor 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. What is User Content?And the definition is probably changing as wetalk 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. You may or may not have controlover this content ControlPlaceY/N?User forums you host YUser forums you dont host N(LinkedIn, for example)Your wikiYSomeone elses wikiNOnline help (including comments) YCommunity blogsNCorporate blogs?And so on 6. Because we dont have enough to do We are increasingly being asked to be responsiblefor user generated content in some manner That which we have control over, we can But if we dont have control If you dont have control, then stop looking at it It just makes you frustrated Customers are willing for ad hoc content bemessy and ugly Or wrong Our content is the official content 7. What is Success?To have a successful project, we need todefine what that means 8. Setting expectations When you say successful project, what do youmean? 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. Your management has a definition At least for other projects in the company Use that definition Extend it to include what you mean, too Its 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. 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 fordocs and how that happens How docs happens in a mystery for most organizations 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 dont like or are stupid 12. Planning is still planningYou already know part of the way there 13. Create a quality metric Set up the basic characteristics for 3 or morequality 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. Hours per page metric still works When developing a standard work per pageestimate 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. 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. Common estimating errors First non-zero probability - The first possible datethat the project could be completed Guess factor - An optimistic time plus some addedfactor Devoutly desired results - A guess that makeseveryone happy 17. Evaluating complexity External factors Internal factors Product stability Technical experience Information Writing and documentavailability design experience Prototype availability Audience understanding SME availability Team experience Effectiveness ofreviews 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. 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. Deliverables, they areachanginIts a whole new world 21. Deliverables Hard copy Multiple languages PDF Device-sniffing content Online help Write once, reuse many Offline help And so much more eBooks Its a very exciting time! Smart phones/devices Tablets HTML 5 22. The way we were Doesnt work any more We dont even call it single-sourcing anymore Its called multi-channel publishing Creating content in a book metaphor is gettingmore and more expensive It locks content into files You cant reuse what you cant get to Perhaps its time to consider about newtools/technology 23. Thank you for your timeThoughts? Questions?Sharon Burton951-369-8590Twitter:


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