From the Editor: Summer gives us an opportunity to revisit some of our popular posts, and you can check into something you might have missed. Today’s replay, from Jill Parman, features another of our most popular templates and first appeared on February 25, 2014. It’s designed to smoothe the process of getting SMEs to review your content, and who doesn’t want that?
Editors Note: This Documentation Review Checklist template is one in a series of templates to help readers plan and manage communications and content management activities, resources and deliverables. We welcome ideas and suggestions for other Template Tuesday materials.
The Documentation Review Checklist helps you conduct a meaningful review of your documentation pieces, whether you hold technical review meetings and/or send the checklist to individual reviewers. You can customize each line item in the checklist to fit your specific document and review needs.
Reviews of documentation are critical for catching errors and omissions in the content, and often identify issues in the products themselves prior to general availability. Products and documentation that are easier to use reduce production costs and calls to the help center; they also create happier, and more loyal, customers.
All communication pieces should undergo some level of review before being sent to the intended audience. The goals of a structured review checklist are to capture errors and missing information, which helps you create more robust, complete, accurate documentation. If possible, you should build time into the project schedule to allow for frequent reviews of smaller portions of the content to ease the load on those performing the review. This format keeps the process short and simple each time and allows you to catch errors or additional content needs early on in the process (long before your documentation needs to be published, printed, or released).
Using the Template:
Customize the front page, including headers, footers, logos, and other standard/required text.
Customize the checklist line items/rows in the table to fit the review requirements you need for a specific document.
Update the Reviewer Instructions and Documentation Team Action Items as needed.
Create clear guidance on what you want your reviewers to focus on.
Send to reviewers with a specific deadline for returning the checklist and/or send to reviewers ahead of a meeting so they know what will be expected.
Save the compiled feedback from reviewers.
Make appropriate changes to the documentation and track the changes that were not made (and why not).
You may want to download the Documentation Plan template to assist with planning your reviews in the context of your other content work.
Download: Documentation Review Checklist (140kb – Microsoft Word)
Download: Documentation Review Checklist (40kb – Microsoft Excel)
Do you have other templates that work well for the products you are documenting? Are you in an Agile development environment and have tools for creating user assistance that aligns with Sprints? Feel free to contact us and submit your templates. We’ll provide credit to you for assisting the TechWhirl community and contributing to Template Tuesdays.