TechWhirl (TECHWR-L) is a resource for technical writing and technical communications professionals of all experience levels and in all industries to share their experiences and acquire information.
For two decades, technical communicators have turned to TechWhirl to ask and answer questions about the always-changing world of technical communications, such as tools, skills, career paths, methodologies, and emerging industries. The TechWhirl Archives and magazine, created for, by and about technical writers, offer a wealth of knowledge to everyone with an interest in any aspect of technical communications.
Steve Ino asks:
>I'd like to hear from others who have taken their review process online. Our
>development tools are pretty simple: Word Perfect for Windows and COREL
>Draw. Are there dedicated reviewing software packages or other usable tools
>that will run on a Windows PC?
I don't know if this falls into the category of a "dedicated reviewing software
package," but we've been using Lotus Notes to review documents on-line for
several years with great success.
All of our documents are drafted and reviewed within a Lotus Notes database.
Each document is associated with an Author (responsible for drafting the
document and entering any major content changes), a panel of Reviewers
(responsible for reviewing and approving/suggesting changes to the document),
an Executive (responsible for approving the document's publication) and a
Communicator (responsible for minor content changes, spelling, grammar,
publishing, going out for coffee ;-). The only people who can alter the
document itself are the Author and the Communicator; everyone else offers
feedback by composing a response form to the original document.
A document goes through several phases of development: Draft, Review, Approval,
and Publication/Storage. At any point in the process, anyone from our group
can see (1) the current text of the document, (2) the document's current phase,
(3) the names of the people currently responsible for doing something to the
document, (4) the proposed date for completing the current phase of the
process, and (5) all feedback offered on the document to date. For example,
the menu for a document in the Review phase might appear as:
Title Status Responsible Deadline
ISO 9000 & You Review C. Bukowski 10-31-94
* Replace "bourbon" with "technical architecture"
* What about process quality?
(The two feedback documents, marked by *, contain more detailed comments on the
document's text than their titles indicate.)
Finally, since Lotus Notes word processing functions are practically
nonexistent, I usually port the document into Word 6.0 for publishing. We also
keep the Lotus Notes copy handy for electronic distribution.
There's a bit more to the process than this, but that's the 10 cent tour. I
can't say enough about how much easier Notes has made our review process --
having everyone on the same page WRT a document's content is invaluable, and
minimizes the risk of miscommunication between authors, reviewers and
If you have any questions, feel free to drop me a line.
Communication Specialist cfisher -at- andersen -dot- com
"'The question is,' said Alice, 'whether you _can_ make words
mean so many different things.' 'The question is,' said Humpty
Dumpty, 'which is to be master--that's all.'" --Lewis Carroll