Re: onscreen review

Subject: Re: onscreen review
From: "Bill Hall" <bill -dot- hall -at- hotkey -dot- net -dot- au>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Tue, 25 Jun 2002 20:12:05 +1000

In defence technical writing, where users of the equipment we document are
dealing with heavy, complex and dangerous hardware and related software, our
workflow is:

o peer review (the peer(s) cannot be anyone that is already familiar
with the same document). As others have said it is far too easy to pass
over your own previous mistakes.

o author rework. The original author fixes problems identified by the peer
reviewer(s), and probably finds more problems both missed in the first

o QA/supervisor review. Another look for anomalies and to check off all
identified by peer reviewers have been addressed. Any remaining problems
knocked back to the author, or the document is signed off if all is OK.

o client review. Client is given the opportunity to review and annotate

o final QA signoff (or more rework depending on client reviews). Final
sends the document to release for publication.

By working with structured (i.e., SGML) documents in an electronic workflow
environment we are able to complete this onscreen review process in 0.1 or
0.01 the time it used to take us when we were working in a paper-based word
processing environment - when reviews often weren't done at all or were
glossed over. Work in the electronic workflow environment is completely
traceable, and our content management system's annotation capabilities tell
authors what they need to do and identify later exactly who changed what and

The content management system was expensive to implement but we recouped the
cost within a year of going live with it, to say nothing of greatly changing
our customer's attitude towards our documentation capabilities - which
assures us of a lot of continuing work we otherwise were at risk of losing.

Bill Hall
Documentation Systems Analyst
Strategy and Development
Tenix Defence
Nelson House, Nelson Place
Williamstown, Vic. 3016
mailto:bill -dot- hall -at- tenix -dot- com
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