RE: Do Document Reviews Provide Significant Feedback?

Subject: RE: Do Document Reviews Provide Significant Feedback?
From: "Sharon Burton" <sharon -at- anthrobytes -dot- com>
To: "Al Geist" <al -dot- geist -at- geistassociates -dot- com>, <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Thu, 29 Dec 2005 10:47:48 -0800

What you are describing is exactly the situation my group is in. Management
at the C level was hearing from customers that the docs are a mess. The
reason they are a mess is that there was 1 professional in the group and she
works remotely from 2k miles away. She did a good job but there's only so
much you can do at that distance. The other writers had no idea because most
of them were in their first tech writing job. There were little to no
standards or process in how one developed documents. They knew nothing about
the audience and didn't know how to find out, or even that they should!

I've seen manuals that had large sections cut and pasted right from the
functional spec. My clues were the future tense, third person, passive voice
endless descriptions of how a menu bar works in the middle of a chapter. The
writer didn't touch the text. I've seen detailed discussions of features we
haven't had for several years. QA dictating what goes in the manuals, as tho
they understand task flow and how the users use the products. This is a

So I'm having fun putting together a group that uses processes and standards
to write world class documentation. And changing the company culture in how
this all works. I'm having a great time!


Sharon Burton
CEO, Anthrobytes Consulting
Immediate Past President of IESTC

Then Al Geist goes...
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.


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Re: Do Document Reviews Provide Significant Feedback?: From: Al Geist

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