Re: Documentation review

Subject: Re: Documentation review
From: doc -at- edwordsmith -dot- com
To: techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
Date: Wed, 28 Dec 2005 17:19:14 -0800

On Tuesday 27 December 2005 09:09, Lucero, Peggy wrote:
> I've worked and worked on writing the documentation review schedule.
> Given the number of documents to be reviewed and the short time frame to
> get them through the reviewing process, I can't concoct a schedule that
> does not contain any overlap.
> Any suggestions/recommendations are most appreciated.

In the first place, if your mid-April deadline is hard and won't slip, then
the overlap problem is a distraction--my thought is to get the material
matched to qualified reviewers, and try to put it all out there in review
asap. Consider the following, maybe your manager would allow it.

Create a list of topics for each document, circulate the master list to all
potential/appropriate reviewers, and ask them to sign up to review only the
sections they are best qualified to review (more if additional time
commitment is not a hardship). If your project team is exceptionally solid,
you'll get everyone from the architect to the janitor signing up for review
responsibilities. If you find you're having to wheedle and cajole to get
reviewers for specific topics, tell some managers and let them find someone
good (and not overloaded) for you.

If your client wants to review at the same time as your in-house review
(instead of waiting for the reviewed draft), send them the drafts and suggest
they assign the documents or sections to qualified reviewers. Some clients
are very well integrated from project inception and acquainted with the dev
team, and so would be welcomed as a part of the in-house review. But if your
client is not privy to your behind-the-scenes processes, then just determine
what (if any) part of your in-house review is appropriate fare for client
consumption, and exclude them from the rest.

Distrtibute review copies as soon as you have reviewers for them. Ask for
written comments, and mention that you _might_ need face time (a roundtable
session or two) to hammer out any topics with problem areas. Plan to
summarize all review comments, and send them back to reviewers, especially if
you're going to be asking them to sit down together to discuss--everything
you can do to provide the direction and focus for your reviewers' energies
will pay off in time saved.

In a perfect world, each reviewer would then have a limited range of material
to vet, so the reviewers' workload would be manageable while the reviews of
the entire project proceed concurrently. The idea is similar to submitting
chapters for review as you complete them. Unfortunately, in this case, you
don't appear to be the among the beneficiaries of this planning against
burn-out, but next time....

Good luck!

Ned Bedinger
Ed Wordsmith Technical Communications
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References:
Documentation review: From: Lucero, Peggy

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