Continuity of Business Effort

Writing projects require some management by the technical writer.  Implementing the document life cycle can ensure continuity of effort and more successful writing projects.

 

Freelance writers need to help their clients understand this process prior to starting projects. SMEs (Subject Matter Experts) and other necessary resources should be identified and ready when the technical writer is hired. Sometimes we find the other resources were never identified thus making the continuity of effort more difficult. Of course, there are ways to handle these issues but the more issues that can be avoided the happier the writers and the clients.

 

For example, systems development documentation may require that the technical writer be involved during the time the system is being developed.  Our manufacturing clients have found that having our technical writers involved during the development process improves their bottom line since our writers can work closely with engineers on-site or remotely. If the writer isn’t included during the development phase alternative document life cycles can be implemented. But, of course, like with many things, knowledge is power, so the initial meetings held prior to contracting should discuss these issues.

 

Depending on the document life cycle needed to ensure continuity of business effort a client can determine if the technical writing should be done in-house or utilizing a freelance methodology that suits their documentation needs.  

 

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The Sixth Phase of the Project

Every project must have an ending rather it is good or bad. For our four week project that should have been six months we now have an unacceptable deliverable but something to start with.

 

Now, it is time to reward the people that didn’t participate in the project. That’s right, this is the reward the non-participant phase.

 

Everyone smart enough or lucky enough not to get involved in the negative aspects of this project will receive a reward. Promotions are in order and celebrations parties are scheduled and work goes on as usual.

 

Hopefully, something is learned from this process and the value of the industry experts will be considered relevant to the project’s success.

Fifth Phase of the Project – Punishment of the Innocent

The guilty have been identified. Management has taken the appropriate action to address employees or vendors that contributed to the demise of this project.

 

The deadline is approaching and management is feverishly meeting with the remaining project team to see what can be done by the deadline date.

 

As long as management continues to take action regarding any issues that impede the project deadline, the better it is for management. No one can mention the mistake that lead to this demise out of fear of being identified as one of the guilty.

 

In addition, management begins to solicit advice and information from people outside of the project team. The objective is to tap every resource available as the deadline approaches. The project is far from perfect but something is always better than nothing.

The Fourth Phase of the Project

Search for the Guilty!

It has become evident that the project is now in jeopardy. Everyone is beginning to see why the project was projected to be six months instead of four weeks. Management is aware that they must now take action to address the issues that will arise from missing the deadline date.

 

The witch hunt begins and the managers spin the bottle.

 

Round, and round, and round it goes, where it will stop, nobody knows.

 

Will the bottle point to you or maybe you over there?  We must identify the guilty parties. Those chosen by management will take the blame, somebody has to.

The Third Phase of the Project – Panic

The rumors are circulating.

 

Promised due dates for early deliverables have not been met and talk of mandatory overtime are abound as employees mill about in conspiratorial whispering at familiar locations.

 

Key technical employees have resigned in a huff, leaving critical staff openings while irreplaceable talent walks out the door, passing an in-stream flow of independent consultants on their way in.

 

Panic has gripped the departments and careers are hanging by an untenable thread as flurries of meetings are conducted much the same way as a military inquisition.

 

The copying machines are now going into overdrive as resumes take priority over project and status reports. Absences are at an all-time high and morale is inversely lower.

Vacations are placed on hold, if not canceled altogether. There is a standing joke among the ranks that simply states: An optimist is a person who brings their lunch to work!