More for less

Its a bit strange. Some time ago I thought, the work which can be done by a team is almost constant after a while. And if you take away some members then, the others have to take over their work.

The work to be done should stay constant or be a bit less (because of course less team members).

Instead it seems that the less people we are in the team, the more we have to do in whole.

I've been chosen to take over the configuration and release management from a team member which was pulled to that other project some time ago. Until now he almost everytime had some minutes left if we needed him for something but now his stress has reached a level where he can't do that much things at once anymore.

And the documentation stuff also bites back again. We've got some assistance by a technical writer, but it's quite a hard time to explain him why we can't deliver documentation of the level he requests. It would require too much detail and would take several weeks to write it. Time we don't have, the documentation should be delivered tomorrow.

I think the difficulties with documentation also have to do something with our current approach to make it.
There are some corporate templates in Word-format and the documentation has to be delivered in .doc but we (developers) have some difficulties with that. Many of us have a Linux computer, and OpenOffice is not a solution for these templates. We are much more used to textfiles, manpages or HTML-pages.

The technical writer also has much work with Word-files. He has to send them out to every developer, then every developer makes changes in the file and sends it back to the TW. The TW then has to review ALL documents again and merge them into a single file again. This process has quite an overhead, don't you think?

So I've offered to make a proposal to perhaps switch our whole documentation system to TWiki, a system which is already in use some time internal for different purposes and has been quite handy there.

Currently I'm thinking about pros and cons for both the old (Word-) way and my new approach to write documentation to perhaps switch to TWiki some time in the future. Although we would loose some comfort and formatting possibilities, we surely can improve and speed up the documentation process because all people work on the same collection of topics at the same time without disturbing each other.

With the TWiki-skins and different TWiki-plugins we can generate documentation in almost any format the customer wishes, just faster and less error-prone than now.

When I think over it, it seems to me that I spend a good time of my work on doing things for projects or processes I invented in spare time which I crotched from project-worktime. Now the tools have proven to be useful and I should improve them... It's odd.
For example TaskZilla, All-In-One Demo Center Live CD or this internal tool which I initially wrote to find errors in our other product.

And I'm currently thinking again of a tool to aid me with my new job of configuration and release management. I In my head, the UI has taken quite concrete shapes meanwhile, but when do I find the time to write it? And does it generate more work again, if others get aware of it?


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