Final Version of Technical Review Guidelines

Subject: Final Version of Technical Review Guidelines
From: Thomas Quine <thomas -dot- quine -at- NCOMPASSLABS -dot- COM>
Date: Sat, 12 Sep 1998 16:29:34 -0700

Thanks to the 40+ people who responded to my posting of Technical Review
Guidelines. I've sharpened up the document on your wise advice, and will
send it to those who sent comments and whoever else requests it.
Below are some of the better suggestions I received:
. Always have your documents reviewed (and signed off!) by a Subject Matter
Expert (SME). Yes, the writer should know what they're documenting, but no,
they will never know the subject as well as a good SME.
. Train your SMEs! Whenever possible, explain the Technical Review
Guidelines to the SME in person, and them a colored pen as a free bonus
while doing so! Try to establish a friendly, working relationship with
them. If there is more than one reviewer in your office, give an informal
. Always obtain buy-in from the SME's supervisor.
. Do not send technical reviewers an unfinished draft. Get the document
close to completion before asking for their time.
. Where possible, send information to reviewers in manageable chunks.
. Some people commented that the sheet puts too much onto the technical
reviewer that is rightfully the job of someone else. I've split out a
separate sheet for QA reviewers, who are not always technical experts and
who go through several different procedures while testing documentation.
I'll circulate that sheet as well. I also want to create a separate
checklist for editors at some point.
. ISO 9000 calls for formal technical review meetings of documentation
following a written technical review. Any time I've ever done this, it's
been extremely valuable.
. Staple the Guideline sheet to the document, or at the very least, print
it on the ugliest pink or lime paper you can find, so the SME doesn't lose

- Thom

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