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Conducting a thorough editorial, technical and content review of business and technical documents is challenging for many organizations, but a geographically dispersed workforce can make it even more difficult. Here are some tips to help better manage document reviews at a distance: Establish review guidelines. Truth […]

1162222_38679791Conducting a thorough editorial, technical and content review of business and technical documents is challenging for many organizations, but a geographically dispersed workforce can make it even more difficult.

Here are some tips to help better manage document reviews at a distance:

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 the reviewers to follow procedures step-by-step. Tell them to point out incorrect steps and identify why the step is in error.
  • Encourage the reviewers to look for better ways to present data, or identify if a different function or listing that would work better in the same situation.
  • Instruct reviewers to check to see if the artwork (listings, figures, illustrations, tables) corresponds with the references in the text.
  • Tell the reviewers to 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. This is a commonsense first step when project teams span multiple time zones, and even continents. 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.

Use online collaboration and version control.
WebWorkerDaily regularly covers the latest in collaboration tools. Using one of these tools can help you better manage the review process with your team.

Use electronic document review tools.
With Microsoft Word and Adobe Acrobat you can mark up and comment on electronic documents just as you can with pen and ink on a hardcopy document — there’s no need to fax documents any more. If your team is reviewing an XML-based document, look towards a solution like LiveTechDocs (I reviewed it for WWD).

LiveTechDocs

LiveTechDocs Application

How do you manage document reviews?

Image credit: svilen001 from sxc.hu.

  1. These are great guidelines. Too often when working as freelancers we don’t take the same care with documents as we did when working within the corporate infrastructure. It’s so easy to do with the freely available tools we have working online. Great post – filed for future review!

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  2. [...] on-site, standing at the reviewer’s door when the review is late. So it is best to implement a managed review cycle of documents you are writing, including accountability for yourself, accountability on the [...]

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