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Policy, Process, and Procedure research is a Process carried out before any significant writing is performed. Based on the project, research can also be conducted at any point, including the testing and implementation phases. Content research is the task of conducting a thorough and comprehensive study of the subject matter that will become the content for the Policies, Processes, and Procedures. The amount of research required is based on the size, scope, and complexity of the project. Research requires organization and planning; otherwise the collection and compilation of information can become unwieldy.
The documentation is the end result, to a greater or lesser degree, of research that has been performed by analysts, designers, managers, or executives. However, the research previously performed will not include all the information that will be required by the Documentation developer. The Documentation developer’s task is to compile the information into Policies, Processes, and Procedures that are clear, concise, complete, and correct™.
In the simplest explanation, the Documentation developer is ‘connecting the dots’ for the user. When ‘connecting the dots’, information that will be required by the users may be missing or tasks not fully defined. Therefore, the Documentation developer is looking for the gaps in the previous research. There will certainly be gaps, as the research is usually not performed to the level of detail required by users.
The research performed by the Documentation developer that is necessary to produce the users’ Policies, Processes, and Procedures involves study, investigation, clarification, understanding, and compilation.
Begin the research with the information obtained from tasks performed during the eDocumentation™ Planning phase. If the project did not have a Planning phase, research preparation steps will be required.
To understand the dynamics of the project you are undertaking, consider the following to assist with your research approach:
Determine if research has been performed that outlines the new Policies, Processes, and Procedures. If so, the Documentation developer is not ‘starting-from-scratch’, but compiling the information into a usable form.
Determine if there is extensive new Policy. The Documentation developer does not establish Policy. The Documentation developer reviews Policy to determine if the Processes and Procedures adhere to Policy. As Policy becomes more complex and specialized, the Documentation developer must work very closely with those who have an in-depth knowledge. In addition, the Policy will drive the new user Processes and new user Procedures.
Determine if the enterprise is implementing a new strategic plan for the organization. If so, systems and Processes will be selected to support the strategy. The organization will change to implement the new systems and Processes. In this case, the Documentation developer will work in concert with the organization to define and document the new Policies, Processes, and Procedures.
Determine the level of knowledge that exists among subject matter experts for the new Policies, Processes, and Procedures. Is the information fragmented between many resources, or does a specific group have a complete understanding of the knowledge required for the Policies, Processes, and Procedures?
Determine if you are updating only existing Processes and Procedures, which may have been changed, but the documentation was not updated and properly implemented. This situation requires the Documentation developer, with the management, to research and determine the specific Processes and Procedures to ensure that the correct Procedures are performed throughout the enterprise or department.
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