RE: Avoiding documentation bottlenecks while maintaining quality

Subject: RE: Avoiding documentation bottlenecks while maintaining quality
From: "Dori Green" <dgreen -at- associatedbrands -dot- com>
To: <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Mon, 24 Sep 2007 09:24:21 -0400

I have never found the writing to be the source of a bottleneck.

Access to SMEs
Timely return of review copies

Now _those_ are bottleneck points.

Somebody at the VP level or higher has to make it very clear to
everybody involved that when you ask for access to SMEs, you are
speaking with their voice and this has high priority. And they will be
informed if you do not get the access you require. And they will take
action about it. And they will not be pleased so nobody else will be
happy either. There are more tactful ways to express this, of course,
but this is the message that must be conveyed.

My boss just signed off on a standard cover letter to go with all review
copies. From this moment forward, reviewers have 3 business days to
send back their comments. Otherwise their review will be logged "no
response" and I am authorized to print another copy, attach a new review
sheet, and send it on to the next reviewer. The non-responsive reviewer
can suggest revisions at a later date, of course, but essentially they
will have relinquished their right to a pre-release review. Everybody
has been informed by my boss (top guy at this plant) that a high number
of "no response to review request" checks in the database is not what
they want at their next performance review. Do note that most of the
documents going out for review are between 1 and 6 pages in size. When
I am accused of pulling the information out of my left ear and putting
it on paper just to fill a hole in a process flow chart ("we need a work
instruction here") -- well, that's why it was delivered to you for
review, Homer ("D'oh").

Signoffs used to be a bottleneck. We have two signers. I sent
documents to them one at a time. Folders sat buried on desks. Folders
were lost. I now hand-carry folders to each of them and stand there
while they look over the document (they've seen it before, in the review
process). They sign, I say thank you, take it back to my desk, log it
into the database as "Approved", and put it in the locked file cabinet.

Cumbersom? Yes. Downright Luddite? You bet. Vast improvement over
the previous "shelfware" system (words on paper, in that book over
there, watch out for the spiders if you open it).

It's called transformation. Ya gotta start someplace. Momentum is
increasing as people begin to see that organized, accurate documents
really are making some processes easier, safer, and more efficient. And
what a surprise, when quality starts to become manageable because of
good documentation -- instead of continuing to try to inspect quality
into the product at the end of the process -- at some point the
documentation process might even get some credit.

They still refer to the complicated process of information management
and rewrite and presentation as "making it look pretty", though. Sigh.

Dori Green


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Avoiding documentation bottlenecks while maintaining quality: From: SB

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