Re: Reviews

Subject: Re: Reviews
From: Tim Altom <taltom -at- IQUEST -dot- NET>
Date: Fri, 21 Jun 1996 10:29:00 EST

At 09:22 AM 6/21/96 CDT, you wrote:
>I am looking for ideas/suggestions on getting useful and thorough reviews of
>documents from developers and engineers. Our review process could stand some
>improvement, but the reviewers don't take it seriously or seem to
understand the
>importance of it. Currently, they are each given a copy of the document and
>to mark their comments. No group meetings take place to discuss reviews,
and the
>reviewers do not schedule their time to include this process. I have been
>looking for information regarding this without much luck and would appreciate
>any suggestions or sources you all might have.

>Thanks for your help,
>Karen Serenil
>Ft. Worth, TX
>kserenil -at- teknekron -dot- com

I've had success both ways, with isolated reviewers and with meetings.
However, even with the isolated cases I'd sometimes have to call review
meetings to reconcile differences. I accomplished that by pointing out that
it would take many times as long to reconcile reviewer A with reviewer B if
they were separated geographically.

There's no software or publication that'll help. I'm afraid that you'll have
to be irritatingly proactive. You'll have to slowly wean them away from
fragmented reviewing and into a fixed cycle. It helps to remind reviewers
that there's a deadline and if their comments aren't back, then it's going
to be published as is.

But what helps the most is politics. No kidding. And that means making
friends with department managers, reviewers, your boss, and everybody else
in the process. It means scheduling, coordinating and facilitating review
meetings. That's no simple feat until they get used to the drill. But you'll
have to be smilingly pushy and not take "No" for an answer. If you're
stymied, back up and try another tack. But get your review meetings. One
word of caution...people in organizations trust those who don't let them
down. In your review meetings, YOU chair the thing and move it along. Do
everything, and I mean EVERYTHING you can, to prepare for the meeting and
not waste the reviewers' time. They appreciate it and they'll start coming
to trust you. Be crisp and organized. Have a specific list of questions
ready and circulate it beforehand. If somebody can't come, see if a deputy
can. Or hold the meeting in the offices of the most-pressed member. I've
found that such gestures go a long, long way toward convincing them that
you're not just whining, that you're a serious professional with a damned
serious job to do.

If you're new to this process, you can buy any number of books on
adminstrative meeting protocol. Take a seminar on meeting facilitation. You
can also find somebody in your company to champion your cause. That'll be
easier if you have dollars to save him/her. Everybody wants to look good.

Other suggestions: a too-big review copy is intimidating and may need to be
broken into digestible bites. Then meet only to review the bite. This takes
much less time and seems less like work. And always tell the attendees how
long the meeting will last, so they know it won't go on all afternoon. And
make it clear that the reviewers aren't being held responsible for language,
but for technical accuracy.

Tim Altom
Vice President, Simply Written, Inc.
317.899.5882 (voice) 317.899.5987 (fax)
FrameMaker support ForeHelp support

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