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.
ECOs commonly record the changes made to product specification. It looks
like your company is treating manuals as engineering drawings, rather than
part of the product! (I'm assuming that your documents are manuals, and not
You can significantly cut down on the paperwork by creating an engineering
drawing that describes the manual, and then adding the manual to the bill of
materials (BOM). Then, whenever you change the manual's version, you:
1. Change the manual's drawing so that it calls up the new version.
2. Carry out an ECO on the drawing to reflect the change. For example,
"version: was 1.0, is 1.1", and/or, "filename: was XYZZY001.DOC, is
This way, you have the required audit trail without spending half your time
on QA paperwork. Incidentally, with the manual on the BOM, you have an
additional check that packing and dispatch aren't shipping the product
Of course, you may still need to track the changes between versions.
Personally, I'd use a word processor's redline/strikeout features and save a
copy of the file with redline/strikeout markings in place.
geoff -at- gjctech -dot- force9 -dot- net
>Fellow Technical Writers:
>I'm curious as to how many technical writers work with Engineering
>Change Orders (ECOs).
>I've been in the healthcare industry for the past four years and had
>never heard of ECOs. Now, I'm in a new industry and am discovering the
>wonderful world of ECOs. I'm in awe of all the time-consuming rules and
>paperwork involved. For instance, when I revise a document, I have to
>write down on the ECO what each sentence was before and what each
>sentence now says -- "is" and "was" statements.
>I'm wondering if ECOs are common place, or if I've been blissfully