In This Article

The challenge

During a complex engagement with a multi-site migration, a divestiture from the client's parent company, and a simultaneous acquisition of a new division, it became clear that more attention and care needed to be paid to the quality assurance (QA) aspect of the deliverables being presented to the client, because not doing so risked delaying or derailing the project. 

As the team grew to accommodate the increasingly vast project, so did the project's documentation needs. A suite of documents evolved that was delivered during each site migration that was pre-requisites to migration events. This suite included a core set, as well as documents that were delivered on an as-needed basis.

Every site migration required the following:

  • High-Level Design (HLD): Explains the architecture used to develop software and execute the site migration.
  • Network Low-Level Design (LLD): Based on the HLD, the Network LLD contains details and definitions for the actual logic for every system component.
  • Installation Qualification/Operation Qualification (IQ/OQ): Used to verify that all aspects of the facility, utilities, and equipment that affect product quality adhere to the approved design specifications and that the equipment has been properly delivered and correctly installed.
  • Performance Qualification (PQ): A collection of test cases used to verify that a system performs as expected under simulated real-world conditions.
  • Build of Materials (BoM): An itemized list of purchases used to build and install equipment.

Some sites also required one or more of the following:

  • Security Low-Level Design (LLD): Describes the security solutions (firewalls, malware prevention, fail-safes, etc.) and provides details and settings for the devices that act as part of that solution.
  • Wireless Low-Level Design (LLD): Details the connections, configurations, software, hardware, etc., that are part of the wireless solution for that site. 
  • Interim Operating Process (IOP): A temporary document that defines quickly agreed-upon day-to-day operation and maintenance processes.
  • Standard Operating Process (SOP): Defines the standard day-to-day and operational tasks and processes needed for the relevant site or technology.
  • Network Low-Level Design Workbook: Used as reference material for the setup and execution of a network migration.

This documentation suite was created and managed by WWT's engineering teams and delivered to the client's tech ops and QA teams.

Maintaining all of these documents at a high level of quality was a substantial challenge, particularly because it needed to be done while coordinating across a large cross-functional team that included the Project Management Office (PMO), IT design, IT implementation, and business owners and in conjunction with delivery and implementation. 

Some of the documentation challenges that the engineering team faced were:

  • Maintaining consistent structure and formatting
  • Ensuring readability and clarity
  • Adhering to the client's (often shifting) documentation requirements
  • Creating a professional-level documentation appearance
  • Avoiding document corruption problems
  • Ensuring that no technical errors existed as a result of reused language

Delivering imperfect or late documents was not an option. These sites had to meet strict regulations and requirements that demanded that all of the documentation was completed and pre-approved by the client before the migrations could begin. Without quality documentation, the already demanding migration schedule would have fallen apart, and the program would have stopped.

In order to ensure that WWT delivered high-quality documents and that deadlines were met, they assembled a team of documentation experts.

The team

At its creation, the documentation quality assurance (DQA) team consisted of five technical writers/editors and a project manager/analyst and was tasked with document quality assurance. In order to tackle the backlog of issues and keep up with the demanding migration schedule, the team was quickly ramped up to eight technical writers and a project manager. This team immediately set about putting processes in place to meet the project's documentation challenges, including:

  • Creating Templates: Incorporated client feedback and established best practices to create clear, consistent, and easy-to-follow templates so that the engineering team could draft documents that met those standards quickly and with minimal risk of document rejection.
  • Developing a Review Checklist: Consolidated client standards and feedback, along with common documentation errors into a convenient review checklist that ensured that both a first reviewer and a final reviewer were paying particular attention to the most important items and no errors were missed.
  • Incorporating a Self-Service Workflow Pipeline: Created a workflow pipeline that allowed documentation experts to receive documents from the engineering teams and deliver them back to project managers at a sustainable, consistent rate that also allowed redundancies to bring each document up to the same professional level of quality.
  • Implementing Agile Methodology Practices: Incorporated tenets of agile methodology into the QA team (standups, retros, Kanban, etc.) which led to continuous improvement in document quality and efficiency, as well as cross-team collaboration.

Having the Documentation Quality Assurance (DQA) team in place allowed the engineers to focus more on designing and executing the customer's migrations. Meanwhile, the technical writers on the DQA team were able to focus purely on the documents that defined and supported those migrations, leading to immediate and apparent increases in the documents' speed and quality.

One of the project's leaders said of the DQA team, "They are responsive, flexible enough to review at a moment's notice, help clarify key points with the awesome engineering team, and make sure we don't miss any of our submission deadlines." That flexibility and focus on documentation, which can only come from having a team of professional tech writers engaged with the project, created a better outcome for the client, a better working environment for the engineers, and a more successful engagement overall. 

Customer delight

As a result of this focus on documentation quality, WWT reduced the risks associated with the customer's lack of satisfaction with the deliverables they received. WWT defined the documents needed for each site migration. The engineers were then able to use the technical writers' templates to get those documents created on time. Having the documentation quality assurance team in place allowed WWT to quickly address any errors or problems in those documents and raise their quality to a professional level. And, in the end, the customer received those documents and reviewed them well before they needed to be executed. The WWT team responsible for the migrations then used those documents to complete each required task to the customer's satisfaction correctly. This was an enormous effort. In the nine-month period after the first document was sent to the Documentation Quality Assurance team, WWT technical writers edited over 21,000 pages of documentation.

While a team dedicated to documenting quality is not something previously offered by WWT, this team's efforts and success speak to how a new level of customer satisfaction can be achieved and adds another top-quality offering to WWT's ability to meet customer needs.