Documentation plans–Schedule

The schedule section answers the “When?” questions.

Enter the project schedule here. Have as many benchmarks as possible. You may take this down to the “Chapter 1 out for 1st review/Chapter 1 back from 1st review/Chapter 1 out for 2nd review…” level if you wish, but in my experience, it’s not desirable to be that detailed because any time there’s a single slip, you have to recalculate everything. On the other hand, if you’re doing something with multiple contributors, it’s a very good idea to track the individual pieces they’re doing so they don’t get lost in the shuffle. (In a case like that, I might suggest having a medium-detailed schedule here and then use a spreadsheet during the project to track the specifics for each person.)

For the purposes of a documentation plan, though, a two-column or three-column table of phases and dates is quite adequate. Be sure to include the project start, the production dates, printing dates, and the like in the schedule. You may have other benchmarks for an ebook, a print-on-demand book, or a CD/DVD that’s included with the book, such as preparation of master files, approvals, reviews, and release to the duplicator or distributor.

If you have no other dates lined up, you might use the following list as a baseline and take it from there as the project requires:

  • Writing start
  • Handoff of initial TOC and first chapter.
  • 25% ms. complete mark.
  • 50% ms. complete mark.
  • 75% ms. complete mark.
  • 100% ms. complete mark.
  • Production and page proofs complete; book to printer.

At the end of the schedule, always include the following statement: it’s a good, general-purpose escape clause.

Note: This schedule assumes that the scope, purpose, and outline in this documentation plan are substantially correct, and that no time will be lost due to sickness or other delays. Any changes to these assumptions will result in a comparable, day-for-day extension of the schedule.

In other words, if they’re late, you’ll be late, too; it’s not your job to make up the slack for their lack of process. If you manage to sell this to management effectively, be sure to tell me how you did it.

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