Information-Development Project Estimating: Study Guide
Use this study guide to learn about project estimating and either perform your own.
At least one person in your team will have read something about project estimating. Ask that person to indicate which summary focuses on project estimating.
See the reserved-reading list for a particularly good item on project estimating.
You certainly needn't buy all these books or even read them all for what they have to say on this topic. Visit a library; search online.
- JoAnn T. Hackos. Managing Your Documentation Projects. Wiley. This book probably has all the information you need to do a project estimate. Don't forget; it's on reserve.
- JoAnn T. Hackos. Information Development: Managing Your Documentation Projects, Portfolio, and People. Wiley. A dozen years later, this book also has project-estimating material, perhaps with a new perspective.
- Peter Kent. Making Money in Technical Writing. Read about project estimating from a freelance perspective.
- Jonathan Price, Henry Korman. How to Communicate Technical Information: A Handbook of Software and Hardware Documentation. Benjamin Cummings. Some material on project hours.
- R. Stanley Dicks. Management Principles and Practices for Technical Communicators. Several chapters in this stern book.
- EServer Technical Communication Library. Search on project estimating in this collection.
- TECHWR-L. Similarly, search in TECHWR-L's articles and listserv archives for project estimating.
- Carolyn Rude. Technical Editing. Longman. This book has material on estimating hours of different types of information-development work.
- Sun Technical Pubs. Read Me First!. Prentice Hall. See Appendix A.
- Alan S. Pringle, Sarah S. O'Keefe. Technical Writing 101: A Real-World Guide to Planning and Writing Technical Documentation. Scriptorum. Minimal coverage.
Estimate hours or days to complete the tasks involved in this entire project. Because the tasks in this course are much abbreviated compared to the equivalent "real-world" tasks, it's difficult to apply what you read in Hackos and others. Just give it a shot, make good entries in your timesheet throughout the project, and, in your team's post mortem, compare your estimates to actuals. Save this information: you will put it in the information plan, which is one of the next assignments.
Here are my best guesses at the tasks you'd make estimates for. Remember that your estimates must take into account the entire project, not just the actual tasks.
- documentation proposal
- composition of each of the topics (each team member's assigned task to document)
- style and format planning and documenting in the team blog
- templates and prototypes
- documentation plan
- formatting and editing of the drafts of the tasks
- integration of the documented tasks into a complete, standalone documents (i.e., tables of contents, menus)
- post mortem
Obviously, organizing the team, establishing team rules, and setting up the team blog would be outside of an actual project. For some of these estimates, you may feel that you haven't a clue. Just give it a shot; you will find it very interesting to compare these estimates to the actuals!
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