Managing technical document reviews for geographically dispersed teams
Even in the day of mobile devices and Enterprise Social Networks (ESNs), organizations can’t escape the need to review business and technical documents for accuracy, completeness, and message. I’ve been a student of technical document reviews, technical reviews, or technical editing. In fact, I was a computer book technical reviewer during the great computer book over publishing of the nineties.
Here are some tips for managing document reviews if you are on a geographically dispersed team:
Centralize documents online. Teams should place their documents in a central document repository whether it be SharePoint, Huddle, Dropbox, Box or in your project management applications. Emailing review documents back and forth only invites version conflicts.
Establish review guidelines. Truth be told; many organizations don’t know how to review and approve a document. As such, it is important to set out how you want your reviewers to check over each document. Your review guidelines should instruct reviewers to do the following:
- Follow procedures step-by-step and tell reviewers to point out incorrect steps and identify why the step is in error.
- Look for better ways to present data, or identify if a different function or listing that would work better in the same situation.
- Verify if the artwork (listings, figures, illustrations, and tables) corresponds with the references in the text.
- Test each line of program code and describe any problems.
Designate document stakeholders. Have a designated document stakeholder check over the document(s) undergoing review to help set review priorities and free up resources to ensure the document review happens on deadline. The stakeholders can also tie the document review into the overall project plan if needed.
Identify primary and backup reviewers. When project teams span multiple time zones, and even continents, it’s best to identify primary and secondary reviewers. If the primary reviewer is unavailable to resolve a question, then the team can always go to the backup reviewer.
Set a realistic review schedule. It is rare that a stressed and harried project team can make a full document review in just one pass. So depending on your project schedule, take the initiative to manage expectations and set a review schedule that ensures reviewers are going to add value to the documents they are reviewing.
How does your team manage document reviews?
Originally published at willkelly.org on December 8, 2013.