Re: We All Get Third Party Books

Subject: Re: We All Get Third Party Books
From: Chuck Melikian <chuckm -at- MDHOST -dot- CSE -dot- TEK -dot- COM>
Date: Wed, 6 Nov 1996 16:50:46 -0800

Bob Morrisette wrote in response to another writer:

# >The users will find that level of detail gets in the way of
# >using the documentation, rather than helping it, but the
# >customer is the company management, who may consider that
# >getting ISO9000/BS5750 has be a higher priority than having
# >clear, concise user documentation.

# I'm wondering about the implication that documentation for
# ISO 9000 organizations is not clear, concise user documentation.
# If you do not produce high-quality documentation in an ISO
# environment, you are doing something wrong.

# Bob Morrisette
# writer -at- sabu -dot- EBay -dot- sun -dot- com

I agree with Bob. I fail to understand why people think ISO certification
gets in the way of quality documentation. It might add a little paperwork,
but that is all.

Achieving ISO certification means that you have demonstrated to an auditing
organization that you have processes in place that ensure you produce a
quality product. Our company has achieved ISO 9000 certification. What this
has meant to our documentation department is that we have put formal
processes in place of informal processes. We are doing jobs the same way
now that we did them before, we just document them better. :-)

In general, we do not allow just anybody to work on manuals. We specify in
our policy that only people authorized by management may work on manuals.
In turn, management only authorizes technical writers to write manuals.
Strictly speaking, the technical writers authorize our illustrators to
work on the illustrations. Other production personnel are authorized to work
on the manuals as needed. This means that engineers are not allowed to work
on manuals. Service personnel are not allowed to work on manuals. Marketing
personnel are not allowed to work on manuals.

We have a process in place to ensure manuals are corrected when we receive
feedback about errors in the manuals.

We maintain "Verifiable and Objective Evidence" that we follow the
processes we have put in place.

We will not change a manual, except for errors, unless we have an approved
"Engineering Change Order" that describes what is changing in the product.
Once we have an ECO or an approved New Product Introducton, we write a
Documentation Plan that details what we will produce, when we will produce
it, who will review the document, and what support we require from various
organizations. However, I must emphaze here that we used Documentation
Plans for years before we achieved ISO certification.

Manuals are not shipped until they are approved by Engineering, Marketing,
Product Safety, and Service. While we want feedback about the technical
accuracy of the manuals we produce, we maintain that we are the experts
on the manuals and that we have final say about what gets printed.

All of this is defined, in very general terms, in our Documentation Policy,
which is required by the ISO 9000 standards. But, there is nothing in the
policy about *how* the manual is written. We do have a Documentation
Standards book that details the organization and content of our manuals.
But, that standard was in place long before we began working for ISO 9000

The way we structure our documents to meet the needs of the customer is not
defined in our ISO policies. And we have achieved ISO certification. There
is nothing in the ISO standard that says "thou shall write lousy manuals."

Our documentation policy requires as little paperwork as possible to
provide evidence that we follow our defined procedures. The only paperwork
we keep indefinitely is the documentation plan and the signed-off review
forms. Every other review copy or piece of paperwork is recycled after
three months.

Chuck Melikian
Tektronix, Inc.

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