Re: Do Document Reviews Provide Significant Feedback?

Subject: Re: Do Document Reviews Provide Significant Feedback?
From: Al Geist <al -dot- geist -at- geistassociates -dot- com>
To: techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
Date: Thu, 29 Dec 2005 12:53:53 -0500

Sharon Burton wrote:

A review as late in the game as the one under discussion should never result
in a reorg. The doc should have been planned and approved before writing
started. Everyone should have been aware of what was going in the manual and
in what order long before the writing started. This should be the technical
review for accuracy.

It all depends on the amount of control you have over a project, or the phase in which you entered the documentation effort. At my last company, it took me nearly a year to get the documentation effort organized and reviews accomplished and that only happened when customer feedback recognized that they were finally getting usable documentation with their products (and customer service realized that their chaotic workload was reduced to a manageable workload). The problem was an overworked marketing staff which placed documentation at a very low priority. In an effort to reduce development time, sections were often lifted from previous documents and entered without adequate review. The manuals looked pretty and had lots of pages, but more often than not, they described non-existent products.

At my current gig, I was tasked to clean up a document written in three weeks by a group of developers, none of which had any technical writing or manual development experience. The result is constant reorganization as I uncover undocumented features, or discover that the documented features are three or four program revisions old. What is really ironic is that they hired me as a short-term contractor to clean things up and as a result, they've discovered a tremendous amount of duplication, bugs and other problems that could have been avoided and would have save considerable development costs.

I think the situations I've faced over the last couple of years are, unfortunately, endemic to many industries. If they would follow Sharon's path, a lot of wasted effort could be avoided. Then again, maybe its a concerted effort by those other industries to drive those of us in our industry batty.

I still can't believe I gave up a life of drugs, alcohol and debauchery for this......

--

Al Geist, Geist Associates
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See also:
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RE: Do Document Reviews Provide Significant Feedback?: From: Sharon Burton

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