Session 14: Adding Steps to the Task List

Session 13: Incorporating Milestones
Session 15: Rewriting Phase 2, Step 3

Howdy and welcome to this session of the “How to Make Guides” project where I am creating an instruction manual for users who wish to make their own guides. In the previous session, I incorporated milestones into the overview of each phase of the guide and in each phase of the task list. In this session, I plan on adding the steps into the task list. If, for some reason, this is a quick endeavor then I’ll also rewrite the instructions for Step 3 in Phase 2 of the guide.

Here goes…

Adding Steps to the Task List

To start, I’ll place a current list of steps next to the current task list for each phase:

Guide StepsTask List Phases
Step 1: Identify the needs you are trying to solve.
Step 2: Describe the ideal solution if obstacles didn’t exist.
Step 3: Identify your target audience and their needs.
Step 4: Explore the scope.
1.1. Milestone: Project Needs Identified
1.2. Milestone: Ideal Solution Fabricated
1.3. Milestone: Target Audience Identified
1.4. Milestone: Scope Identified
Step 1: Define the project goal.
Step 2: List out the objectives for this project.
Step 3: Create a project task list to provide a pathway toward launch.
2.1. Milestone: Project Goal Identified
2.2. Milestone: Objectives Identified
2.3. Milestone: Task List Established
2.4. Milestone: Project Document Created
Step 1: Research the necessary topics for your product.
Step 2: Revisit the project objectives and scope.
Step 3: Draft the outline for your product.
Step 4: Determine the presentation format for your product.
3.1. Milestone: Research Conducted
3.2. Milestone: Outline Drafted
3.3. Milestone: Presentation Format Determined
Step 1: Conduct sessions to work on your outline items.
Step 2: Conduct an internal review and make edits.
Step 3: Perform one or more self tests.
4.1. Milestone: First Draft Created
4.2. Milestone: First Draft Reviewed Internally
4.3. Self-test Conducted
Step 1: Research your target audience and how to reach them.
Step 2: Prepare the drafted work for external review.
Step 3: Send the drafted work for confidant review.
Step 4: Edit the work and send out for second-draft review.
5.1. Milestone: Second Draft Created
5.2. Milestone: Second Draft Peer-Reviewed
Step 1: Analyze your prototype.
Step 2: Build your prototype.
Step 3: Perform prototype testing.
6.1. Milestone: Prototype Created
6.2. Milestone: Prototype Tested
Step 1: Create final draft.
Step 2: Implement the final draft into the presentation medium.
Step 3: Assess the need-analysis based on the final version of the product.
Step 4: Create marketing materials to present the product to the target audience.
Step 5: Launch to the target audience.
7.1. Milestone: Final Version Created
7.2. Milestone: Communications Planned
7.3. Communications Prepared
7.4. Final Product Launched
Step 1: Review the life of the project.
Step 2: Group all notes about what went wrong as a list of issues.
Step 3: Analyze why each issue happened.
Step 4: Record action items to mitigate the issues from happening again in the future.
Step 5: Identify any loose ends.
Step 6: Tie up loose ends and close the project.
8.1. Milestone: Retrospective Created
8.2. Loose Ends Tied Up

Okay… so this is a bit of a mess. There are lots of things to unpack here – from some major ideas discovered among the steps that I missed in the milestones (looking at you “external review”) to completely not planning for some milestones and steps being the exact same (and therefore redundant).

For most decisions, I’ll keep referring to visionary concepts worked out in Session 12: Revisiting Milestones, Steps, and Tasks. I’ll start from phase one and work my way down.

Phase 1: Exploring Your Vision

The main issue here is the milestones and the steps are a like-for-like match. They aren’t written the same in the two documents but that’s okay. So the question is what to do about the task list. If milestones are written in a past tense “checklist” format and steps are written in a present tense instructional format and I don’t want to repeat words then – oh. Maybe the task list should all be written in past tense form?

According to the vision worked out for the task list, it’s supposed to be a flexible document for users to add known and unknown tasks in order to actively plan their path. I was under the impression that since the user was documenting tasks for the future, then they should be written in an instructional “do this” format. However, if it was written in a past “this was complete” format, then the idea is that tasks only get checked off once their statement is true.

For example…

  1. Created red note.
  2. Created blue structure.
  3. Researched green hue transformer.

…is still a checklist that denotes what has or has not yet been completed.

I think this is a solid solution but if milestones can be steps then should milestones be highlighted in each phase of the task list? According to the vision, milestones represent a significant snapshot of the project; so “yes”.

How should milestones be highlighted as such? My instinct says to “Put a star somewhere, anywhere! A STARRRRR!” but I don’t think that’s easy for everyone to easily implement – though another symbol might suffice. Maybe a simple capital M in brackets could work: <M>.

  1. Created red note. <M>
  2. Created blue structure. <M>
  3. Researched green hue transformer.

I think that works. So here are the first phase milestones:

  1. Project Needs Identified <M>
  2. Ideal Solution Fabricated <M>
  3. Target Audience Identified <M>
  4. Scope Identified <M>

Phase 2: Planning Your Project

This is an odd one because there are more task list items than there are steps. The next session will address specifically address the problem here as it involves rewriting the third step – which ties into the extra milestone. I’ll add an Action Item to add a note to that task about this.

Assuming things stay the milestones all remain, here is the new list:

  1. Project Goal Identified<M>
  2. Objectives Identified<M>
  3. Task List Established <M>
  4. Project Document Created<M>

Phase 3: Planning Your Product

The number of milestones and steps also mismatch here but in reverse – there are more more steps than tasks. That’s not bad – all that means is that the extra step isn’t a milestone, which was originally planned. Here is the new list of tasks:

  1. Research Conducted <M>
  2. Objectives and Scope Revisited
  3. Outline Drafted <M>
  4. Presentation Format Determined <M>

Phase 4: Producing Your Product

This is pretty straightforward:

  1. First Draft Created <M>
  2. First Draft Reviewed Internally <M>
  3. Self-test Conducted <M>

Phase 5: Reviewing Your Product Content

Looks like there’s an opportunity to add a milestone here – which means the summary should be reviewed as well (it’s always something… ha).

Here are the tasks / milestones:

  1. Confidant Draft Created <M>
  2. Confidant Draft Reviewed <M>
  3. Second Draft Created <M>
  4. Second Draft Peer-Reviewed <M>

Here is the new overview:

By the end of this phase you will have updated the content with updated versions reviewed by confidants then by a “second-draft” group.

I think that works.

Phase 6: Testing Your Product

I think this one is pretty straightforward though I want to change “Analyzing Your Prototype” to “Planning Your Prototype”. I’m not going to consider this a milestone to highlight just how “basic” this version of the product should be. Might be a mistake but the reasoning makes sense at the moment.

  1. Prototype Planned
  2. Prototype Created <M>
  3. Prototype Tested <M>

A thing to look at is the name of the steps. In previous phases, the step names were instructive sentences. These are more like bullets.

Step 1: Analyze your prototype.Step 1: Plan your basic prototype – just the essentials for testing.
Step 2: Build your prototype.Step 2: Conduct sessions to build your prototype.
Step 3: Perform prototype testing.Step 3: Reach out to testers to conduct trials.

Okay. That’s good. Moving on…

Phase 7, 8 and Beyooooooond!

These phases have not been worked on yet so I’m just going to skip these for now as they will be overhauled when I get to them in the task list.

That’s pretty much it for this session. The last thing I’ll do is update the task lists and any steps/overviews addressed above and add that Action Item to the Issue Log and task list. (That issue log is becoming a pain to edit and use – I may need to upgrade that to an advanced table using a plugin. I’ll add this to the Action Items.)

Okay! That’s it for this session. In the next session I will tackle that third step of phase 2 and iron out all the kinks associated with that. See you there!

Action Items

  1. Add a note for the “Rewrite the instructions in Step 3 of Phase 2” task to revisit the milestones associated with this step. – I just did this, no need to add to issue log.
  2. Upgrade Issue Log to an advanced table.
Session 13: Incorporating Milestones
Session 15: Rewriting Phase 2, Step 3