Re: Quality assurance procedures for technical writing?

Subject: Re: Quality assurance procedures for technical writing?
From: Damien Braniff <dbraniff -at- amphion -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Wed, 24 Jan 2001 15:09:17 +0000

Generally speaking (at least for ISO 9000), no matter what you do 'performing
QA' means you are audited against your procedures and it's up to you to
determine what the procedures are. When I did quality at college I was taught
that when a lot of companies go down the quality route they don't document what
they do but rather what they thinbk they should be doing. This is not the way
to do it - people don't meet procedures, get disheartened etc and generally
become 'down' on whatever quality being worked to.

What you should do is document what you do. For manual production this may
include, audience analysis, documentation plan, review cycle etc. This then is
what you should follow for every manual. May have a separate procedure for
datasheets etc. The number of procedures created very much depends on how
formal the quality system is, type/breadth/level of documentation and so on.

Once the procedures are in place (and they're being followed) you're then
looking at setting targets for the documentation (or at least some form of
measurement) - this could be cutting down the number of calls to tech support,
etc. You then look at the documentation and see how it can be amended to
achieve this (maybe more audience analysis, incorporating user feedback ...) and
amend your procedures accordingly. The it's more of the same - measure, amend
and so on.

Of course as we all produce perfect docs <g> it's all a bit superfluous!

Damien Braniff (MIQA)
Damien Braniff
Technical Author
Amphion Semiconductor Ltd. Tel: +44 28 90 50 4000
50 Malone Road Fax: +44 28 90 50 4001
Belfast BT9 5BS Web:

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