Re: What is quality?

Subject: Re: What is quality?
From: Johanna Manning <johannam -at- COAT -dot- COM>
Date: Wed, 29 Dec 1993 10:36:34 -0500

Hi! I can tell you how we fixed some of these problems. We
created a review cycle (similar to a product cycle) that outlines three review
meetings for the following areas:
Initial review - request for information
Second review - first review of preliminary documentation
Final review - We have incorporated your changes and you sign off that we did.

We also added a beta test environment for those highly contested issues by
distributing the document to 5 customers and asked them to use it and tell
us what they think about it.

It is a slow process to change people's beliefs, but the budget savings were
sufficient to convince higher powers to back us.

On Wed, 29 Dec 1993, BURGAMW1 wrote:

> I'm willing to jump in and start another discussion about quality. Our
> problem, where I work, is defining it. We don't produce manuals of any kind.
> Our products are scientific documents: reports, journal articles, books,
> presentations.
> What constitutes a quality document? One that has no typos? That is
> easily readable, elegantly formatted, internally consistent, technically
> correct? The only definition we could come up with is one that meets the
> of the customer (i.e., engineer or scientist).
> The problem is that the customer doesn't always know what he or she needs.
> "A light edit, please," says the customer. (This means essentially a
> copyedit.) However, the manuscript turns out to be totally unreadable, badly
> organized, with unnecessary figures, data presented in tables that would be
> more effective if turned into graphs, etc. We try to persuade the author to
> let us do a substantive edit, but he persists in wanting only a copyedit. We
> give him what he wants. The finished product certainly isn't what WE would
> consider a "quality" document, but the customer's happy.
> The other extreme is the customer who wants "the works." We usually like
> to work on this type of document because it satisfies our need for perfection
> (or as close as we can get). However, sometimes the customer is also a
> perfectionist, who is constantly revising, rewriting, and reorganizing as
> working on her document. The deadline draws near and she's still changing
> things. Finally, we remind her about the deadline. "One more little change,"
> she says. The document's not done on time. The customer's not happy, but she
> got a "quality" document.
> I'd be interested in other people's definitions of a quality document.

> Murrie Burgan, JHU Applied Physics Laboratory

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