Kent Taylor, Acrolinx shared this with me this morning. Hopefully you find it useful.
A Quality Management System (ISO 9001, 6-Sigma, Kaizen, TQM, etc.) can have a big impact on quality, productivity, and cycle time in medium and large Writing Organizations. If you have never done a process audit, you will almost certainly be amazed at the amount of duplicative, and unnecessary activity that takes place in the overall content supply chain. You’ll also find bottlenecks and roadblocks that consume valuable cycle time.
The core tenets of all the Quality Management Systems are simple and straightforward:
- Know and document your processes and quality standards.
- Objectively measure and track in-process quality (Quality Assurance – real-time feedback to people as they do their job.)
- Objectively measure and track quality at handoff points (Quality Control – independent metrics and reports)
- Make and document changes to your process, and observe changes to quality, productivity, and cycle-time metrics. Formalize and deploy the changes that have positive impacts on your metrics.
- Implementation of a Quality Management System takes some time and effort, but can result in on-going cost and time savings that you will be proud to show your management. And you will have metrics to show quality improvements as well!
- The conventional measurement of quality reflects how well you conform to your own standards. In the tech writing world, standards generally consist of the dictionary (for spelling of common words), perhaps some terminology guidelines (for company- or domain-specific words and phrases), the accepted rules of grammar, and a company style guide.
- Measuring conformance objectively and cost-effectively is the hard part. Identifying and tracking all of the misspellings, typos, grammar, and style issues manually is neither objective nor cost-effective, but there are tools that can help.
- Spell checkers and grammar checkers can provide some help in terms of Quality Assurance, but require considerable manual effort to create Quality Control reports. And they are limited in terms of style and terminology checking. At the other end of the spectrum, you will find tools like the Acrolinx Content Quality Solution. This toolkit provides both Quality Assurance and aggregated Quality Control reports that identify and track all spelling and grammar issues, as well as deviations from your company’s style and terminology standards.
Bottom line: The application of proven quality management practices in your technical writing environment can significantly improve overall quality and consistency of your content, while providing cost and cycle-time reductions of projected 10% to 25% or more.