[Checklist] Documents Reviews with Indian Technical Writing Team

Does your technical writing team have offices in Bangalore?

Many US software companies are moving technical writing projects to India, Romania, Singapore and Poland.

I often help these teams setup their tech writing dept and mentor junior writers who are finding their way.

Document reviews are one area you need to focus on to ensure the quality is up to scratch and the documents are ready on time.

So, how can you review documents with junior tech writers, especially if they are in a remote office?

document-review-checklist

Reviewing Technical Documents with Overseas Writers

  1. Create a web page. Make sure all reviewers can access content. They’ll need read/write access.
  2. On this web page, add columns for Writer, Reviewer, Tracking Numbers, Review Status, and Approval Status.
  3. Upload the content in a format that they can comment on. For example, instead of uploading a set of webpages, convert them to PDF or leave in MS Word. This makes it easier for the reviewers to download the content and add comments.
  4. Don’t get too technical. While it is possible to review documents using PDFs, many users won’t understand the annotation tools and become frustrated. Instead of improving the process, you’ll spend time teaching them how to use the annotation features, which takes time, effort, and patience. Instead, look for the simplest tool to use.
  5. If possible, send notification emails to all team members.
  6. Assign documents to be reviewed. Add a note to identify who wrote the document and highlight when it’s expected back by.
  7. While this will be included in the notification email, it doesn’t hurt to remind reviewers of their responsibilities and your expectations.
  8. Assign a due date. Identify when you expect the document to be reviewed by. Either agree this in advance with the reviewers, for example, if they are in a different office and you don’t have access to their schedule, or if they work directly for you, based on their current workload.
  9. Contact reviewers during the review cycle, especially at the beginning, to see if they understand the workflow software, expectations, and agree to the due date. Iron out any wrinkles that are likely to occur at the start.
  10. If necessary, assign the documents to be approved. You may need to do this if the reviewer does not have access rights to approve documents. If they can, monitor their work and check that all documents are reviewed within the agreed timeframes.
  11. Update the tracking spreadsheet. Either import the stats or manually update your document review tracking spreadsheet. This should help track the number of documents reviewed within the timelines, issues that occurred, and the scores for each document if you’re assessing documents for quality.

Summary

My experience of online document reviews is that you need to keep the tools as simple as possible. SharePoint, intranets, or open source tools all work fine. Remember your goal is to get the documents reviewed, not play around with the software.

Secondly, contact team members during the review cycle, especially junior tech writers.

Provide direction, give examples, be proactive, and most importantly, help build their confidence.