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A postmortem analysis of any technical writing project is a crucial part of the whole project. It’s the closure that reveals the strengths and weaknesses. After we finish a project we should make a habit of analyzing what went wrong during the project and what didn’t, and how we can improve our delivery next time around. This is the kind of questioning that can be done either as a group activity or on our own if we are the sole writer on the project.
Here are some of the questions you might ask during such a reckoning session:
- How did this specific project fit into your overall documentation and income goals?
- Was the project delivered on time? Did you make enough money on it? If not, how will you improve the situation?
- Was the initial time estimate realistic? How would you improve your time estimates?
- How did the Documentation Plan hold up? Which parts proved to be unrealistic? Should the Documentation Plan have been written differently?
- Which resources turned out to be insufficient? Time? Money? Availability of writers? Travel allowance? Training?
- Was the review cycle handled well? If you were to plan it again, would you plan it the same way?
- What were the surprise factors that handicapped the project?
- How did you measure customer satisfaction? Was there any feedback?
- Are you satisfied with the communication you’ve established with the client? With other members of the writing team?
- How do you rate the cooperation of SMEs (Subject matter Experts)? What could you have done differently to elicit better SME response?
- Is there a need to modify your style sheets and guidelines?
- Did you have any issues with the images, screen shots, and graphics? How would you handle such issues better in your next project?
- Did your editing tools prove to be sufficient? Do you think you need to upgrade your software or hardware?
- Did you have any problem with the printing (or web posting) phase of the project? What were the issues and how are you planning to avoid them in your next project?
- Do you think you need to change the way you market your services? In what way?