Production is like planning an elegant dinner; timing is everything.
The Production Phase of your project is your last opportunity to ensure quality. A successful Production Phase begins with your project plan, in which you determine what final deliverables are required and when they have to be completed so that they are available to customers in a timely manner.
When I wrote Managing your Documentation Projects in 1994, delivering printed manuals was the overwhelming standard. Help systems were still relatively new and the web was unknown to the general public. As a result, I suggested that project managers allot 20% of total project time to preparing final deliverables. That often resulted in calendar time of six to eight weeks, if not a full quarter (13 weeks) before completed information would be available to customers. The result was reduced quality to the customers; the information was often out of date before it was published.
Since then, information-development organizations have come to depend much more heavily on electronic delivery, primarily through help systems and websites, although handheld devices like cell phones and personal digital assistants are increasingly included in the deliverables planning. Even when you decide to print and ship paper to customers, the methods you now have to handle print content require ...