How do you measure whether or not a document is communicating what it should? How do you define good documentation? – I define it as being applicable, usable, and error free. Documentation has to be written for the target audience as everyone has different roles and responsibilities. The following questions can be asked via feedback or during review time to ensure that all written material accomplishes its goal.
Feedback can be gotten through comments, check points, or star ratings. Preprinted questions can sent out electronically or be attached to the back of each document. Some questions to ask are:
- Did you read it in detail
- If no, what did you skip
- Were the Table of Contents, Appendix, and examples helpful?
- Was it easy to read and comprehend?
- Was the flow of the document consistent?
- Was the layout of the document suitable for reading?
- Were the activities suitable and helpful?
- How long did you spend on each portion of the document?
- Was it complete and understandable?
- Was the time spent worth it?
- Were you able to use the documents and did not make any mistakes while applying the knowledge?
- Would you refer this document to others – recommendations?
- Would you like to add something to the document?
- How often should this document be reviewed?
- Who is using this and where?
- What was missing-what else should be captured?
- Were you able to learn from this?
- Should there be more breaks or white space?
- Was the format of the document suitable?
Depending on the type of document written, focus the questions on the audience reading it. For example:
For trainers, coaches, mentors, instructors ask:
- Were there enough exercises, separations, directories, and appendixes?
- Did it contain accurate and precise content?
- Did it help to prepare the staff and/or learners?
- Did it reinforce learned knowledge
For a global organization, ask:
- Did the document capture and relay the objective of the organization?
- Was the correct knowledge transferred?
- Was the language used suitable, appropriate and understandable?
- Was the usage of the document easier than meeting face-to-face?
- Was the translation software able to phrase local terminology suitably?
For an IT department or technical personnel, examine the following:
- For Project managers, developers, and stakeholders,ask:
- Were the requirements, and specifications complete enough?
- Were there enough designs, illustrations, samples or were there too many?
- Did it provide the appropriate critical security information?
- Were the designs, cases, and purpose of the document accurate and reliable?
- Was it organized well?
- Were there enough business cases?
- Was there enough data and information for marketing for sales engagement?
- For the QA department ask:
- Were there enough scenarios to aid the testers?
- Were documented requirements and specifications met?
- Was there enough data for testing?
- Was enough information given to access data and equipment for testing?
After collecting all the feedback, keep a running chart of the responses- keeping track over time will show you the worthiness of a document.
If you have had experience with measuring the quality of a document please leave a comment.