Using Simplified Technical English to apply Lean Six Sigma concepts to your documentation process
By Ms. Shumin Chen and Dr. Frans Wijma
Simplified Technical English (STE) is an international standard (ASD-STE100) that helps to make technical documentation easy to understand. Simplified Technical English standardises vocabulary, grammar and style, while letting users control their specific terminology. Although Simplified Technical English originates from the aerospace and defense industries, it can easily be customised and applied to any other industry.
Shufra, a full-service technical documentation provider, can help you implement the ASD-STE100 Simplified Technical English standard in such a way that it optimally supports the introduction of Lean Six Sigma ideas, concepts and processes to your documentation lifecycle.
Simplified Technical English and Six Sigma
Below, we will outline the basic synergy between Six Sigma and Simplified Technical English.
An important Six Sigma method is known as DMAIC:
- Define the project goals
- Measure key aspects of the current process and collect relevant data
- Analyse the data to identify root defects
- Improve or optimise the current process based on the data collected
- Control the new process to ensure that any deviations from target are corrected before they result in defects
In the domain of Simplified Technical English in relation to content creation and content management (authoring, editing, change management, version management), the basic parallel is:
- Define the writing rules
- Mine legacy data
- Analyse the data to identify the common violations
- Improve the documentation by applying the relevant rules
- Check the documentation to ensure correct and consistent use of the rules, thus reducing the number of violations and improving output quality
Simplified Technical English provides the baseline set of writing rules that can be used as objective parameters to measure content quality. Shufra can extract relevant error information from your legacy publications, helping to identify the main problem areas. We then train your staff in effectively applying the rules that remedy these problems. Finally, we help you to implement Simplified Technical English checker software to monitor and control the content creation and output. The exact implementation will be based on your existing or planned documentation process and entails many variables.
A bottomline impact
Simplified Technical English involves all aspects of the documentation lifecycle. It looks to make significant improvements in your content creation and content management workflow. Typically, text written in Simplified Technical English will show a 20 to 30% reduction in text volume without any information loss and at least a 60% increase in readability and user-friendliness. As the text volume is reduced by at least 20% and the remaining text becomes more repetitive, the use of Simplified Technical English typically results in 30 to 40% less translation cost.
After all, the best product is only as good as its documentation and technical data allow the customer to make optimum use of it without stretching the budget too far.
Please contact us for more information or a quote.