User Documentation Plan

Quick Summary
A checklist for planning the creation of the user and support documentation for a product. Examples of this documentation include user and service manuals, labeling text, box inserts, training manuals, etc.

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MS Word, 177kb

What this is

A plan for the creation of the user documentation for a product, application, or service. Examples of this documentation might include:

  • Use guides, installation guides, and troubleshooting manuals
  • Box inserts
  • Training manuals and presentation
  • Online help

The checklist helps to ensure that this documentation is planned early in the project, all work involved in creating the documentation is identified, and ownership of both technical writing and development team input tasks is established. Some sample documentation items are shown in the checklist.

Why it's useful

All too often, the tasks for user documentation are not incorporated early into the work breakdown and schedule of a project. This lack of early warning to the group responsible for such publications puts a strain on their technical writer resource planning. Lack of early planning also hides the work that the team itself must contribute to the documentation effort. This can result in an either an expensive delay to getting to market or poor quality documentation that is rushed at the last minute.

How to use it

Create these elements of a full User Documentation Plan as you move through your project:

Documentation Overview (Section 1 of this template): Write a rough high-level version of the plan during the Initiation/Planning phase of the project, to help identify the scope of user documentation required to support the product, application, or service being created. This can be as simple as creating the Documentation Overview Table discussed on pages 2 and 3.

Content Plan (Section 2 of this template): Create a Content Plan during the project to further define the scope and design of the needed user documentation. Section 2 shows how to create a more detailed outline of the major sections of all the publications.

Development Timeline and Estimates (Section 3 of this template): Provide first rough estimates of staffing and financial resources required to develop that documentation to the project manager as part of early project planning and budgeting. Update your estimates and refine the document creation schedule as your understanding of the documents' content and length is worked out.

Download this template
MS Word, 177kb

Related Templates
User Manual Planning WBS and Schedule
As any technical writer can tell you, there's no such thing as "just" writing a user manual. This work breakdown in MS Project format includes notes on task estimates and resource allocation, and incorporates cross-functional tasks you could easily overlook.

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