Defect tracking software provides a convenient and centralized mechanism for identifying, managing, and resolving software issues. Typically, documentation teams can leverage these same benefits by using the software to track errors in documentation deliverables. Depending on the level of customization offered by the software, some writing teams are able to track additional data, milestones, or resolutions specific to their needs.
Depending on how you feel about metrics, defect tracking software can be used as one mechanism for collecting data about documentation. Regardless of how you choose to manage documentation data in the software, keep the input requirements simple. Look at the following example:
Although these options appear simple and obvious, there are actually one of two underlying assumptions:
- The person opening the defect knows the documentation well enough to be able to correlate content within a manual with the corresponding online help, or
- The person opening the defect is willing to take the time to confirm that an error occurs in more than one documentation deliverable.
Either assumption puts too much onus on the person who finds the issue. While the intent is good, the effort will likely result in inconsistent entries as users take the path of least resistance. Leave the minutea to writers, who are familiar with the content they create. Simplify the process of entering defects against documentation by eliminating extraneous options and you may receive useful feedback more often.