Mention team technical reviews to a gaggle of tech writers and the likelihood are that good that you simply will either get a loud, collective groan or the group will vie to inform the simplest review horror story. On the one hand, technical reviews are an important part of our jobs because they assist us to supply top-quality product documents. On the opposite hand, technical reviews gone wrong are the bane of our existence. The great news is that we have the facility to conduct consistently effective technical reviews. This text summarizes why we do reviews and what often goes wrong in reviews, and then summarizes steps to require before, during, and after technical reviews which will assist you to conduct effective team technical reviews. Although your process and team may differ from what’s described here, you’ll apply the knowledge partially or in whole to enhance your current review process.
Why We Do Reviews and Why Reviews Often Go Awry. As technical writers, we’ve important reasons for conducting technical reviews:
- Techreviews can provide a system of checks and balances from a spread of material Experts (SMEs) on the team, which helps bring technical accuracy and completeness to the documents we produce.
- Technical reviews can help improve the product’s design and catch problems or bugs, which may help improve both the merchandise and therefore the accompanying documents. And, as a result….
- Technical reviews can help reduce development costs, minimize problems for product users, and help reduce technical support calls or needs.
Most people on the project team would accept this as true for these reasons, but despite these common goals, technical reviews still go awry. What’s more, reviews can often go awry for a variety of reasons at a variety of points within the overall process:
- Poor communication
- Lack of preparation
- Lack of management support
- Unclear expectations and objectives for the review
- Insufficient time planned for the review
- Lack of follow-up
- Wrong people involved, or right people involved at the incorrect time
As communication specialists, we can–and should–take steps to facilitate communication throughout the review process, which is that the core of a successful review. As you’ll see within the following sections, conducting an efficient team technical review requires commitment from the project team, management, and from yourself; however, with proactive communication, consistency, and organization throughout the method, the review process can indeed be effective.
Before the Meeting
Recognize that producing quality documentation is a collaborative process that takes time and commitment become involved early within the project. Because the user advocate, you’ve got a singular perspective on the usability of the merchandise. Use your expertise to eliminate usability problems early within the design phase. For instance, if you’re performing on a software package and therefore the UI (User Interface) contains text that’s idiomatic or jargon, you’ll provide alternatives early within the design phase.
Obtain a commitment from managers to support the technical review process. Get to understand the project managers and establish a rapport with them. Educate them about your needs, work with them to determine goals and roles, and work with them to determine consequences for team members being unprepared or for not participating needless to say.