September 24, 2012

Time Estimation Method For Technical Writing Projects

How To Estimate  Time For Technical Writing Projects?

Estimating  time for technical writing project is an art or craft that I do not know but surely it is one of the significant and core skill, yet most of the technical communicator find it one of the most daunting task because it relies on many conflicting, delicate and external factors.

Why to estimate time

Either you are a freelance or permanent employee if you can effectively estimate the time commitment required to complete a project, you can safely meet your clients’ needs while maintaining balance in your schedule. If you can’t do this you won’t know how much to charge for your work or how to best schedule your time and wind up costing you time and money.
Unfortunately, it is difficult but essential.

With the spirit of sharing, I thought to post few tips on what to consider while estimating time for the technical writing project. Nothing revolutionary. There are many sites and resources available, but it is difficult to say what is the exact method, probably that’s why it is an estimation. End of the day, it will be your experience which will make you the guru of this gyan.

Pre Kick off meeting preparation time is important for freelancers to take into consideration. You can also consider the time required in preparing of the quote, MOU, negotiation time, preparation of the agreement. 

Know what you have to estimate before estimating you should be familiar for what you are giving estimation because sometimes documenting one menu may take one hour and sometimes it may run in many hours. Knowing the scope is most vital part of the estimation.So do not forget to allot time for meetings to evaluation of project details.

To conduct information-gathering meeting is essential for estimating, raise questions until you are sure you understand the application. It should be a red flag if a client or developer is not willing to define the project for you.

Try to understand the difficulty of the project during your research. Have you worked in this domain earlier? Is it a simple topic or complicated? Do you know and have the knowledge of the tools which are required to complete the project. Give yourself permission to have a greater learning curve than for projects similar to your past work.

Check the availability of the finished project, specification requirement docs and other information availability? 

Also find any existing document you have to update or you have to do it from scratch, Are templates ready or you have to create?

These are the small things you should consider before estimating actual writing time.

Guestimate time for actual work-After understanding the complexity of project and knowing the real number of windows and menu option make a high-level view of topics now you can guesstimate the actual time you will take to write.

Keep in the mind apart of the actual flow you have to write an index, appendices and many definition and introduction. Also keep time for graphics, formatting, editing and self-proofreading and generating output.

Revision-Make it clear in advance with the client about number of revisions client keeps changing his or her mind or code allot time for each round. This avoids the endless cycle of minute detail changes that end up adding hours and hours to your total time commitment

Buffer-This time cushion you when unknown problem suddenly emerges like delay in getting feedback, hardware or software problem or your guesstimate deviate from the path,

Extraneous Hours-This time is important when you have very demanding client who needs you to revolve around them answering call writing emails remember all these takes time

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