Measuring Intangibles: Total Quality Culture In Technical Publications


Helm, Roger M.   (1992, ASQC)   Siemens Industrial Automation, Inc., Johnson City, TN

Annual Quality Congress, Nashville TN    Vol. 46    No. 0
QICID: 9773    May 1992    pp. 1176-1181
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Article Abstract

Implementing Total Quality for Technical Publications production entails the measurement and improvement of what generally is perceived as a subliminal or intangible process. Moreover, Technical Publication production often is shrouded in misconceptions. For example, it is perceived as a process without identifiable methods, and customers. Measurements of effectiveness and productivity, which have been traditionally applied to Technical Publication production, in reality are misleading because they actually measure typing speed. Quality technical writing actually consists of fewer pages containing more information. The production of such writing requires more planning, skill, and work. Because no consensus within Management exists concerning how Technical Publications fits into an organization, this article suggests a process audit to investigate the writing process and its customers. The greatest difficulty in recognizing the writing process is that most of the process is mental--invisible. A second difficulty is that the process is not linear, but recursive with a circular progression. Articulating the steps of the writing process reveals that technical publications feature multiple customers, including end-users, and people within the company who use the document to produce the physical product (e.g. engineers) or for information (e.g. sales force). The author's survey of these customers and their technical documentation requirements contributed to a ranking of customers into three categories ranging from customers working on short cycle design projects to long cycle projects. Once customers have been ranked, it is possible to assign writers more judiciously and to streamline information-gathering and data-entry processes.


Process improvement,Process management,Total Quality Management (TQM)

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