This week Week of Jan 13, 2023) is the UC Riverside Writer’s Week 2023. It’s a free writer’s festival with a lot of wonderful authors including Vanessa Hua, Courtney Cook, David Tromblay, Tom Lutz, Jan Beatty, and more! What’s wonderful is that it’s free as well and you can either attend virtually or in person. I’ll be there both virtually and otherwise. Tip: Online is hosted via Crowdcast.
The Importance of Scope on a Documentation Project
According to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK), the scope of a project is the work to be done on that project. The scope of a project is generally defined using a work breakdown structure (WBS) allowing the user to set goals, objectives, priorities, and deadlines making a project manageable. Knowing the exact scope provides the ability to create detailed cost estimation.
Defining the scope of a project so that all aspects of the project are determined and tracked to completion is not only important to make sure the project is on time and on budget, but also that all changes are properly managed. Change management can make or break a project as it can affect costs, schedule, and the deliverable itself. This may sound like a lot of work, but on large projects with extensive resources, tracking a project makes all the difference in how successful the result is.
What does this have to do with technical writing? All documentation projects need project scope clearly defined. A clear and detailed definition of the deliverable, especially larger projects such as extensive manuals, websites, and long-term documentation changes can help eliminate project overages and decrease project failure risk. What does that mean?
Scope creep and Project Completion Risk – Even Small Projects Can Suffer
If a documentation project, especially a larger one, isn’t clearly defined and tracked, it can lead to scope creep. According to the PMBOK, scope creep means adding features/functionality (to the project scope) without addressing the effects on time, costs, and resources. Scope creep can lead to project failure. If expectations for the project owner and all stakeholders are clearly agreed upon, stakeholders will know what they are getting upon project completion, which means it is easier to keep a project on time and within budget.
What should a technical writer watch out for? Lack of planning. Problematic project definitions such as incomplete requirements, lack of communication between stakeholders, lack of resources, failure to reach project milestones, schedule issues, lack of change management, quality control issues, indecision regarding the deliverables, and unrealistic expectations increase project completion risk.
Defining project scope is important on any scale documentation project because it provides a clearly defined baseline plan of project objectives, schedule targets, and budget estimates negotiated at the start of a project. Preventing scope creep on documentation projects, or preventing your projects from going over budget and overtime without controls, helps you achieve your goals of completing the project as agreed. Once a documentation project scope is determined, get sign-off on the written scope statement from the primary stakeholders. Follow up by staying on top of changes, schedule, budget, and resources.
Larson, R. & Larson, E. (2009). Top five causes of scope creep … and what to do about them. Paper presented at PMI® Global Congress 2009—North America, Orlando, FL. Newtown Square, PA: Project Management Institute.
Lu Kondor has worked as a technical writer for more than 20 years for major corporations. She has a Doctorate in Business Management and has worked in a large variety of organizations including entertainment, software, electric utility, manufacturing, oil and gas, chemical, and nuclear process industries. She is an adjunct lecturer in Advanced Technical Writing as well as Information Design for more than 14 years.
Lu Kondor received recognition and a certificate for her selection and participation in UCLA’s Master Class in Fiction for novel writing. Only eight people are chosen each year to participate in the year long novel writing class. Lu has also participated in the Master Class 2.
Lu Kondor is nominated for the James Kirkwood Literary Prize 2019.
In Kirkwood’s memory, his friends and admirers established the James Kirkwood Literary Prize to honor new generations of fiction writers for their literary achievements. The competition is hosted by the UCLA Extension Writers’ Program.
This year I attended the LA Working Writer’s Retreat in September generously run by SCBWI. Lots of one-on-one work and I found some great new friends. I highly recommend this retreat if you have something written and want feedback or just general improvement in your writing in either picture book, middle grade, or young adult. This year Stephanie Guerdan (Knight Literary Agency), Nephele Tempest (Assistant Editor at Harper Collins) and Victoria Wells Arms (Wells Arms Literary) provided incredible input and dicussion. Thanks for all the crits and warm feedback. Slots fill up very quickly so if you plan on attending next year, be ready to apply. If your not a member of SCBWI, join!
Do you like to write and would love to do it for a living? Try technical writing. No need to be a ‘techie’ or scientific guru. With practice, you can find out how technical writing is a great tool in a writers tool box.
Students who want to take the Advanced Technical Communication course so they can get right to creating portfolio pieces (before they take the Introduction course) are welcome to do that. The class is immersive. I teach the Advanced course and we focus on creating a portfolio of pieces (which is normally requested by potential clients and employers) and are a great way to learn how to write even if you want writing as your secret weapon in your job. We write a lot.
Some of the things I cover in the advanced class include presentations, reports, proposals, and step-by-step instructions. Check out my FAQ page for answers to the most asked questions I get in the course. The class is totally online and you will come away with several portfolio pieces. I’ve had students get jobs before they finish the program.
For more detailed info, check out California State University Dominguez Hills’ web site at:
I attended the SCBWI Writer’s Conference last week. Awesome had wonderful discussions with so many people including Kristin Nelson & Emma Dryden. All the wonderful illustrators I met too! I’ll miss it but it provided much needed friendships and inspiration to keep on writing.