Software Quality Insights

Aug 28 2009   6:16PM GMT

Gauging the value of procedures and work instructions

Rick Vanover Rick Vanover Profile: Rick Vanover


Revision-controlled documents such as procedures and work-instructions are a beautiful thing. Sure, the work required to establish the documentation up front can be significant. But the reward can pay off with smooth transitions between staff members or departments as well as consistency across systems.

A good practice point that I have found useful to ensure that procedures and work instructions are correct is to engage another person to literally pick up and run with it. This can be a new hire, temporary employee or even an existing IT staff member that has developed strengths in other areas. We frequently strive to develop procedures and work instructions so that “even a monkey could do it.” But, how frequently do we actually do that?

The value of a hand-off for procedures and work instructions can be measured by its effectiveness to a new person assigned to work in technology areas related to the documentation. This will identify issues such as:

-Out of date versions of software titles
-Updated procedures that may have changed
-Clarity of the procedures
-Ensuring that nothing is omitted from the steps
-Identify unforeseen prerequisites (such as permissions)

Other benefits come from validating the correctness of procedures and work instructions as well. The effectiveness is truly measured once a person with no expectation or prior knowledge of the technologies in question is assigned to perform the procedure or work instruction.

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