Re: Checking for technical accuracy

Subject: Re: Checking for technical accuracy
From: Tom Murrell <trmurrell -at- yahoo -dot- com>
To: TECHWR-L <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Thu, 29 Jun 2000 07:22:38 -0700 (PDT)

--- Sona Mehta <sona -dot- mehta -at- haysmt -dot- co -dot- uk> wrote:
> Hello Everybody,
> I was wondering what do most of you do to ensure that the documents
> you produce are technically accurate.
> Technical review by the developers is one way I know of but in the real
> world, the developer you want is no longer with your company or has now
> assumed some other role. What helps you to write a technically accurate
> document ( Eg Programmer's Manual) in the first place?
> Is a sign off the most common way of saying that
> > the document has now been completed?

It has been said here many times, but no doubt bears repeating, that the best
way to ensure the technical accuracy of your documentation is to know what you
are documenting. Yes, technical reviews are important. Regrettably there are
often factors that prevent the writer from knowing enough to be an expert.
Expertise takes time, but if you are moving rapidly from job to job, project to
project, and company to company the kind of in-depth knowledge you need to be
an expert cannot be developed. Still, you can do what you can.

Getting your Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) to review your documentation is the
best work-around available when you haven't developed some independent
expertise, but you can't always rely on that, either. SMEs are as overworked
and harrassed as you are; all of them won't do the quality job of reviewing and
commenting that you need. In short, nothing is fool-proof. Use as much of
every approach available to you as you can. Do the best job you can, and refuse
to be paralyzed by the roadblocks that loom.

And, yes, sign-offs--when you can get them--are probably still the accepted
method of indicating that a project is completed. All sign-offs do is spread
the responsibility by identifying the people who were involved. But as you
point out, people move on and aren't always around to clean up the messes they
may have made.

Tom Murrell
Senior Technical Writer
Alliance Data Systems
Columbus, Ohio
mailto:trmurrell -at- yahoo -dot- com

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