August 8, 2014

TOC- A tool to Plan Documentation Project

One of my friend ask me the importance of preparing TOC before writing.My answer was it is like restaurant without menu.Jokes apart, below is the reason.

The table of contents — is technical writer's best tool for organizing the document,planning  and project scoping. Your proposed table of contents not only shows your stakeholder or project manager that you have understand  the material well enough to know how to organize it into effective sections, but it also gives them  a chance to test whether or not you've included every important aspect of the project/product.

Table of contents is considered to be a fluid document. That's because new information that arises during the research and writing phases may result in sections being added to cover the new material. Your stakeholder may decide on a different focus for the project after viewing your initial drafts. You may later realize that additional subheads are needed to explain something within the context of the document itself rather than relegating that information to an appendix.Truely agile!!!

A proposed table of contents should contain your outline of the numbered chapters, parts, or sections and the heads and subheads within those parts. Depending on the style guide provided for submitting your table of contents, by help of TOC you can also estimate approx total page or word counts.

In short, your planned table of contents is the concrete face for your vision on how the document should be organized and what it will say. This also save you from any further dispute.

P.S-You can always take reference of previous or existing document,definitely this will ease your life.

August 1, 2014

Planning stage of document development lifecycle

This checklist can be used for planning stage  of document development lifecycle.You can customize it according to your need.
Not all the subjects will be included in plans at every stage. Some may be added in the later stages.
Collect all the relevant documents available, such as:
• Previous version of the Documentation Plan, Documents
• Product Specifications
• Requirements documents
• Documentation Proposal
• Quality Plan

Decide the standards and conventions to be followed (Style guide and Templates)
Plan the version and change control procedures 
Develop Backup plan
Plan provision of human resource
Plan provision of tools/software/hardware
Assign responsibilities for aspects of the documentation
Plan the prototypes
Plan the system tests
Plan the user tests
Plan the localisation
Plan the customisation
Plan the approval mechanism for the documentation
Decide how to handle updates and future developments
Plan the reproduction method for the printed documentation
Agree on the form of the deliverable to be handed over for release
Finally write the Documentation Plan:-)