RE: Peer Review Process/Best Practices

Subject: RE: Peer Review Process/Best Practices
From: "Lippincott, Richard" <RLippincott -at- as-e -dot- com>
To: <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Thu, 28 Feb 2008 09:48:27 -0500

Chiming in late, but...

Jill Mohan asked:

>Is there anybody out there using a slightly formalized process for getting
>documents reviewed prior to delivery? If you are, can you share some best

There are actually a lot of companies that are doing a formalized document review process, but from what I've gathered from years of being on this list is that most of the writers from those companies aren't on techw-l.

Defense contractors are required to follow a rigid process of documentation review prior to shipping tech manuals. The process is called "validation and verification," and there are some extensive regs on the process. For example, the methodology the USAF uses is outlined in an Air Force document that goes by the number TO 00-5-3, and it's available here:

The relevant info is in sections 9.5 and 9.6.

Commercial companies generally haven't discovered this process, although a few years back I was able to convince my employer to institute the practice. What that meant was that they had to create a position in the QA department, an individual with the dedicated responsibility of reviewing the documentation. (That person turned out to be me.)

A few years back at the Dallas STC conference I did a presentation on this process, if anybody's interested e-mail me here and I'll send you a PDF of the paper. (Or, if you've got the 2004 conference CD handy, it's on there. Just do a search for my last name and it should pop right up.)

By the way, my favorite example of how seriously the Defense Department takes this process is a true story from the 1980s. At the time, the USAF was buying the then-new B-1 bomber.

The first airplane off the assembly line went into flight test.

The second airplane off the assembly line (valued at about $500 million) was immediately turned over to the tech writers so they could validate all of the aircraft maintenance manuals.

Rick Lippincott
Technical Writer
American Science & Engineering
829 Middlesex Turnpike
Billerica, MA  01821-3907
978-262-8807 (direct)
978-495-2335 (mobile)
978-262-8702 (fax)

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