Re: Ddoc Control Ideas

Subject: Re: Ddoc Control Ideas
From: Jean Weber <100241 -dot- 2123 -at- COMPUSERVE -dot- COM>
Date: Fri, 20 Dec 1996 15:12:57 -0500

Mike Lohnes said,

>> My supervisor wants all company documents (technical
manuals, training manuals, test procedures, marketing
materials, HTML documents, Web pages, and ISO 9000
procedures) to pass through a central editor who will
check for style, content, and technical accuracy.
<snip... snip>
>>Any suggestions? What does your company do in this regard?

For example, right or wrong, I'm envisioning an automated
system like the following:
<snip>
--writers create or revise documents
--documents are approved by the respective department heads
--writers notify editor or document control administrator
that documents are complete (or the system does this
automatically)
--editor prioritizes documents
--editor checks out and edits documents <<

I can't help with automated systems (there are many around,
but I haven't used them), but I can comment on the role of
the editor. She should be involved MUCH earlier in the
process. Ideally she should be involved during the planning
of the document, to pick up major structural or stylistic
problems BEFORE the writer has spent a lot of time writing
the draft.

If your supervisor balks at this, AT A BARE MINIMUM the
editor needs to be informed that documents are coming
through the pipeline, what sort they are, how long they
may be, etc, so she can plan and prioritize her own workload
BEFORE the docs arrive in her in-queue. If this is not done,
it almost guarantees delays that will make everybody think
editors are a bottleneck rather than a value-added service.
If the editor knows in advance that she is likely to have
several major, urgent documents arrive the same week, she
has a chance of negotiating priorities, or perhaps getting
some assistance during peak periods.

>>I can see such a system working for hardcopy documents,
but we also have HTML documents and items on our intranet
and Internet site that require editing. Do we simply print
out the pages and send them through the same
system, sending them back to the writers to make changes?<<

The same system should be used for both hardcopy and online
materials. However, although printing out the pages of
online materials can be helpful (for marking up changes),
it is absolutely not sufficient for effective editing.

I could go on for some length, but I won't do so here. Mike,
if you or anyone else on this list wishes to contact me
directly, I can pass on more info from my experience as a
technical editor with IBM and other companies, including
the use of both manual and automated systems for tracking
documents. (The specific tools we used online are probably
not available commercially, or are specific to either VM
or OS/2 systems, so I'm not mentioning them here.) I can
probably send you some of my articles on the subject
(if I can find them in electronic form). One of these
days (real soon now) I will get them on the Web.

I am sure there are many other equally or more experienced
technical editors on this list who could give similar advice.

Happy holidays, everyone.
Jean Weber, Technical Editor, Sydney, Australia


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