Question: How do I anticipate when I’ll need to change the docs?
Many events could change the docs, the question is when. Every company is different, so if you’re new, start by asking what has driven docs changes in the past. Don’t try to get this from a document control system, and even people’s memories have a very short half-life. Even a week later, no one, including you, will remember why something was done.
For example, here at WAK!, things that could trigger a docs change have included:
- Product design changes.
- Product name changes. These are the worst!
- Product packaging changes. In this one, the product stays the same but the assemblies are grouped differently, sometimes with new SKUs.
- Pilot learnings. Early beta trials, be thankful we do them at all.
- Field observations. These happen after a product is “mature”.
- Certifying bodies raise objections during official testing.
- Local authorities object to something after the fact.
- Code changes, meaning building code, electrical code, energy code, ANSI standards, OSHA, etc.
- Legal picks up on something long after release.
- Corporate policy changes. I try to keep these out of the docs but don’t always succeed.
- Manufacturing requests a design change to the product, due to manufacturability or cost issues.
- Quality requests a change to the product or the documentation (or both).
- Compliance requests a change to the product labeling and/or documentation to meet some standard.
- Fasteners can change.
- An executive gets a bee in their bonnet, and issues a sweeping directive.
Single events will most likely affect multiple documents. Hardware fastener changes are one example. You should know what’s impacted even if you choose to ignore certain docs. Eventually you may be asked to explain why these other docs are out of date and it’s best to act as if you’d made a deliberate choice and are not sleeping at the wheel.