Technical Writing Exercise – Project Management

The best way to begin the task of describing a process is to break the total process down into smaller, more manageable steps or phases. In this week’s exercise, that’s what you’ll do. But, instead of describing a process, you’ll apply the basic idea of the article to the process of managing a project.

Here’s the situation: You’re asked to be part of a team writing a manual for the new locker room manager for the hockey team. This manual will describe the process of managing the locker room during a home game.

You’re given three resources:

  • a three-person team of experienced tech writers; Max, Erma, and you
  • a file folder stuffed with sheets of typed, re-copied, and hand-written documents with various elements of the process written down, in no particular order
  • two SMEs; the current team manager and one of the players

Before you can write the manual, you have to decide how you’re going to manage the project. How you will organize:

  • the writing team
  • the hard-copy data
  • the SMEs

The Task:

Briefly, in the order in which the functions will be performed, outline how you will:

1. Divide the process into manageable pieces

2. Organize the writers’ responsibilities

3. Organize the documentation

4. Layout the content of the manual

5. Use the SMEs most efficiently

Not everyone will approach the task in exactly the same way, but your approach to managing the project should look pretty close to our answer.

When you’re done, check the solution below.

Exercise Answer

You’ve been asked to be part of a team writing a manual for the new locker room manager for the hockey team. This manual will describe the process of managing the locker room during a home game.

Not everyone will approach the task in exactly the same way, but here is one possible way to manage the project efficiently.

Step 1

The first thing you do is break the total process of managing the locker room into smaller, more manageable phases. The three phases suggested in the article will work for this task, too.

A logical breakdown of the process:

  • Phase One: actions taken before a game
  • Phase Two: actions taken during a game
  • Phase Three: actions taken after a game

Step 2

Next, you organize the writers’ responsibilities. There are many ways to do this, depending on the size of the project and the subject matter. For this project, it makes sense to follow the break down in Step 1.

Since there are three of you writing the manual, you divide the job up, giving each writer one part of the process. You take Phase One: Actions taken before a game. Max takes Phase Two: Actions taken during the game. Erma takes Phase Three: Actions taken after the game.

Step 3

To make the best use of the documentation, it needs to be divided up according to which phase it’s related to. Your team, with the help of the SMEs, sorts the papers into three parts; one for each phase.

Step 4

With the documentation sorted according to phases, the team develops a content outline for the manual. Each writer will follow the outline so the three pieces of the manual will fit together when it’s finished.

Step 5

Since you all will need to interview both the current manager and the team member, you have to develop a plan to use the writers’ time and the SMEs’ time efficiently.

A possible sequence of interviews, to use everyone’s time efficiently would look like this:

1. You interview the manager

Max interviews the player

Erma studies documents relevant to her part of the manual and develops an outline for her phase of the process

2. Max interviews the manager

Erma interviews the player

You study documents relevant to your part of the manual and develop an outline for her phase of the process

3. Erma interviews the manager

You interview the player

Max studies documents relevant to his part of the manual and develops an outline for her phase of the process

At this point, you all are able to take the relevant documentation and apply it to your content outline based on input from the SMEs. It’s likely that you’ll need to talk to the SMEs again, and you’ll need to meet regularly with your team to keep the project coordinated. But, with this 5-step project management process clearly laid out, you should have no problem completing the task.

Source by Bryan S. Adar

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