To give you a rough idea, and to help with your initial planning, we would expect an 'Average' handbook of 120 pages to take about 12 days of effort, from kick-off meeting to publication. This will vary according to complexity and assumes a few things including good availability of source information and feedback, but it is a reasonable ball-park figure. To give you an example of the writing process, On-Line Consultants usually approach a documentation task in the following way:
- Initial meeting to discuss your requirements and to define the scope of the document(s)
- We give you a written proposal, including costs and timescales
- Commence task:
- contact your subject matter experts to gather information
- receive any existing specification/source material from you
- Produce and deliver a first draft
- we resolve any detailed queries with your subject matter experts as work progresses (email/phone/visits as required)
- we highlight any areas which are deficient due to lack of information
- You review the document(s), provide detailed comments, and attempt to resolve deficiencies
- We produce additional drafts which should contain all required information
- You review and feed back any last-minute changes
- We deliver 'Issue Status' soft-copy for publishing
- We can arrange to have the handbooks printed if you require hard-copy delivery.
The above describes a 'typical' process of a handbook – other formats require a slightly different approach. We try throughout to make as few demands as possible on your subject matter experts. Although we work mainly at our own premises, we have written documentation very successfully for UK-based clients as well as many based in USA, Canada, Sweden, Ireland, Brazil, Mexico and many more.
On-Line Consultants are highly scalable and can provide a complete or supplementary solution to your internal and customer-facing documentation, with the flexibility to fit in with your organisation. We can:
- Serve as an additional resource to an existing Technical Publications Group;
- Handle complete technical documentation tasks which you can outsource entirely.
Additional resource to existing Technical Publications Group
For example, Nortel Networks used us continuously for twelve years as a significant extension to their in-house Technical Documentation Group – other household name companies have too. We use our own premises and equipment, bringing cost benefits to our client. We gather our own information from engineering/marketing sources, arrange progress meetings with our ultimate client within the organisation, and therefore exert the minimum strain on supervisory resources. We always keep our client up-to-date with regular draft deliveries and are used to complying with the most stringent deadlines.
Outsource a complete technical documentation task
If technical documentation is not your core activity, it is an ideal activity to contract out. On-Line Consultants are very comfortable managing the entire documentation requirements for some or all of your products. We can plan document deliveries according to your project plans and will report progress according to your Quality Standards. We have managed projects with up to 50 handbooks very successfully (starting from scratch). We have reported to all levels within an Organisation, from Field Service Managers to Director level and have always been very aware that we must deliver first class documents on time - every time.