Wednesday, April 7, 2010

step two

A while ago I talked about step one in the process of the redesign of a document. Just to remind you, step one consists of creating a project team and establishing goals. I also talked about the main purpose of the document, that is, what do you want this document to do? Is it an invoice and so needs to get paid? Is it a statement and needs to explain the different components of an account (bank, brokerage retirement, etc.)? Is it an application that needs to be filled out and return for processing (and then processed)?

Whatever the main purpose is, that should be the ultimate goal and what all discussions are focused on. I often see discussions straying from this and leading down other paths that wind up in confusion, lack of purpose and an unsuccessful document.

Fortunately or unfortunately, the members of any good project team represent all areas of an organization and their input is sound and valuable, but the group needs to come together and work as a team.
Step two is the gathering information stage. This step has different parts to it. First, information needs to be gathered about the production of the document – is it produced on line? Or hardcopy, fill-in, system generated, etc? What are the constraints – color, bar codes, mailing, etc?

Then ALL users need to be interviewed. These include not only end users, but all who touch the document through the course of its existence. Most often internal users are not consulted and they often will have information no one else has that may be critical to the document.

Many years ago, I talked to a client who told me they had many lock box addresses and someone within the organization decided to eliminate all but one. Then we did our information gathering and found out there were real and necessary reasons for the multiple ones and that having just one would strangle the organization.

As you go through the gathering information stage, remember the four most important questions to ask:

What is the document’s real purpose?
What other documents must it work with?
Who are the internal and external users?
What are their needs?

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