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Doc Plan schman: Teacher response to homework #5

Business Keeping

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Doc Plans Are a Must Because Documentation Is a Lot of Messy Work

You may be wondering why technical communicators use doc plans when you have already created several forms of documentation without them. And the answer is: it’s because of complexity. The documentation we’ve created in this class is just a small piece of what technical communicators do out in the world. Some of their documentation is hundreds or even thousands of pages long! I’ve heard of help forums with 10,000 individually-moderated pages. With that much content, you need a plan or you will quickly get lost in the process.

The purpose of these types of documents is to provide a schedule for the deliverables, including their management, development, and creation. Estimating needed human resources and creating timeline are some of the tasks completed at the beginning of a documentation project. It is project managers who complete these documents rather than technical writers. It is way of making needs explicit at the beginning of a project. – Gergana

Project Management Is a Highly Underrated Skill

The further along I get in my career, the more I value project management. I happen to be really good at project managment, but, in my experience, most people are not. And I have worked with plenty of people in the corporate world as well. Most people seem to apply to “putting out fires” approach to project management which involves running around trying to accomplish daily tasks with no discernible plan. This is a great way to get stuck with little responsibility and a lot of menial tasks in an organization. Organizations don’t like to promote people who can’t manage their projects because there will be even more consequences if bigger projects fail!

The definition of project management seems self-explanatory on the surface. It seems like it would just be managing the how and when of a project getting done. It’s actually much more complex because in a professional or business setting, it involves managing all the details of what goes in to completing a project. The article “Project Management and the Technical Communicator” states that project management includes “acquiring and leading the resources (money, materials, staff, facilities) necessary to accomplish the project goal successfully, on time, and on (or below) budget” (Leahy 2018). Communication and organization are probably the most useful project management skills for a technical communicator. Project managers and technical communicators need to be able to communicate with their customers, teammates, and subject matter experts. Organization is a necessary skill for technical writers because their deliverables rely on being organized, concise, and coherent. Any skills gained from project management are easily transferrable to technical communication. – Tamara

Agile Is a Key Workflow to Know About in the Technology Sector

To understand modern tech comm, you also need to understand Agile. Modern projects are not linear, they are iterative, which means they change with each development cycle. Back in the day, before Agile, you could just wait for the product specifications and then create your documentation completely divorced from the development process. Now, if you do that, your documentation will be hopelessly out of date by the time the product launches.

This is why technical communicators are almost always part of cross-fucntional teams now. They need to change and adapt their documentation as product specifications change and adapt during the development cycle so that by the time the product launches, the documentation matches it perfectly.

Agile product development is a collaborative approach to product development in which the scope of work is constantly adjusting to ensure the most important tasks and deliverables are completed first. A project is divided into iterations,which focus on the most important tasks/deliverable from the backlog and once an iteration is completed, the list then updates to what is most important based on work already completed (the list does not change during an iteration, only in between). The agile method allows for adjustments to be made to timelines if necessary,with the backlog updating accordingly to show what deliverable is most importan tbased on these changes. Cross-functional teams will complete multiple iterations of the project before it is completed, until a market-ready product is produced. – Gabriella

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