RE: Developing a Methodology

Subject: RE: Developing a Methodology
From: "Johnson, Tom" <TJohnson -at- starcutter -dot- com>
To: "Nuckols, Kenneth M" <Kenneth -dot- Nuckols -at- mybrighthouse -dot- com>, "John Posada" <jposada01 -at- yahoo -dot- com>, "Zuercher, Darrell" <dzuerche -at- tva -dot- gov>, <eric -dot- dunn -at- ca -dot- transport -dot- bombardier -dot- com>
Date: Fri, 26 May 2006 09:05:01 -0400

That's really the question: What constitutes a defect?

I went through a Six Sigma course way back in its infancy (circa 1989) and at that time there were no standards regarding documentation defects. We threw around some ideas, but we never applied Six Sigma to our manuals. It was much easier to see how the program applied to electronic components and assemblies.

So, to expand and Kenneth's question:
Do grammatical mistakes count as defects? How about spelling? Does the seriousness of the defect matter? Does an error that can cause an injury matter more than a neglected step that doesn't really matter?

Another question is how do you quantify the number of defects. Surely it isn't from reader-reported defects. I think that's where John's post threw me. If I'm remembering correctly, Six Sigma says the defects are there and the defects will affect this percentage of the people that read the manual. How do you come up with the sigma level for documentation?

Tom Johnson
Technical Writer
tjohnson -at- starcutter -dot- com

-----Original Message-----
Nuckols, Kenneth wrote:

I'm not sure what constitutes a "documentation defect" in Six Sigma
parlance, and I'm wondering if someone can elaborate:

Would a defect be the fact that a person misused a comma that violated
some obscure and arcane (but still valid) rule, and only 1 reader out of
250,000 was savvy enough to think "Gee, that might be wrong, but I'm not
completely sure about it"?

Or would a defect be leaving out a step in a process that is so rarely
used that only 1 in 250,000 readers would actually go through it and
would figure out there was an error, but would still be able to find a
work-around based on the other information you provided in the document?

Or would both the above be considered a defect?

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