Documentation Management?

Subject: Documentation Management?
From: Jennifer Kraus <jlkraus -at- AMETEKWATER -dot- COM>
Date: Wed, 9 Apr 1997 12:56:11 -0500

Another question from the young and innocent new techwhirler...

As tech writers, do some of you also serve in the position of documentation coordinators at your company? Specifically, keeping track of changes that need to be made to documentation between reprints; figuring out how long documentation changes will take through the various stages of development (writing, engineering reviews, translating, graphics, etc); helping to coordinate everyone involved. If you don't serve in this capacity, who does? Someone in sales, marketing, engineering?

My company division comprises roughly 100 people. At present I am the only tech writer; we also have a translator and a 3-person graphics department. The rest of the employees are primarily technical/engineering or sales-oriented. The graphics department used to have a production manager, but her position was eliminated when she left last August (before I started working). Right now we're dealing with an antiquated literature development process in which, in the recent past, no one has taken ultimate responsibility for the finished product. As a result, inconsistencies and inaccurancies show up in the final product. Everyone has been brainstorming ideas to "reform" the process, and I'm curious to hear what systems are in place in other similar situations. I'm especially curious as to the review process (engineering, technical, etc): how do you assure that the reviewers REALLY review the document, and don't just sign off on it without reading it? Do you give multiple copies of a single document to several reviewers at once, or do you send it to the first person, make changes, send it to the second person...etc. Do you provide a checklist of things to look at?

I'm not sure if this is of general interest to the listserv; if not, please send me any replies privately.

Once again, thanks for your help.

Jennifer L. Kraus
Technical Writer, etc
Sheboygan, WI
jlkraus -at- ametewater -dot- com

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