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Case Study: Documentation Management Process

Acquisition Documentation: creating templates and a document management process

templates, document management, and training deliverables

Client

A program effectiveness management team in a large organization serving multiple functional areas.

Challenge

The client had long-standing procedures used for producing documents supporting the solicitation and management of new contracts. However, a self-assessment exposed several procedural deficiencies for maintaining consistent and correct document content, reducing document review cycle time, and tracking contract finances.

The client desired a standardized process to produce and manage the information required to support contract administration during all stages of the acquisition life cycle. Authors used various ad hoc procedures to prepare documentation. These documents sometimes did not meet the organization’s expectations for quality and sometimes adversely affected content review and acquisition approval. Document reviewers and authors also used non-secure and inefficient methods to transfer and annotate files, losing comments, changes, and version control.

The client requested:

  • Templates that could be used for creating contract acquisition supporting documents by authors with minimal word processing experience
  • A document management system for the templates and acquisition documents
  • A contract management information database used for tracking acquisition status
  • Training to learn how to locate and used the templates, document management system, and contract management system.

Solution

Teamplete led a technical writing team that proposed performing the required tasks using the client’s resident software applications and intranet platform (primarily Microsoft Office and SharePoint). This would reduce the overall implementation and training costs for the client personnel following the acquisition process.

The proposed templates would contain boilerplate of standard statements for the document type; the content would include text entry blanks where the author could add contract-specific information.

The document management system would store templates and contract-specific files in an intranet access-controlled central repository. During each stage of the contract acquisition and administration, users could retrieve templates, create new files, and store the contract files in folders. The team proposed a document identification numbering scheme that classified the contract and document type, release version, and symbol representing the contract name.

The proposed contract management system used a database application to store information about contracts and supporting documentation. The database user would enter the names of the acquisition stakeholders, including document authors, reviewers, and approvers. The document, stored in the intranet, could be made accessible from the database by copying the hyperlink from the stored folder, so authors, reviewers, and approvers could see and view the latest status of the document from the database.

The proposed training would use a presentation application, plus Visual Basic for additional functionality, for a self-paced or instructor-led training session that explained the purpose, functions, and procedures of the templates, document management system, and contract management system.

Results

The technical writing team produced a Microsoft Word master template and 27 acquisition process-specific templates. The templates are based on the master template and provide consistent page layout, paragraph and character styles, and document structure. The information in the page header and footer is automatically populated by what is entered in the text entry fields. The team also delivered a template management guide that describes the documents and explains how to use them.

The directory structure for the document management system is set up within the client’s SharePoint environment and contains the document templates and the template selection matrix. The team created a Microsoft Excel matrix that displays the suggested templates for most acquisition types and hyperlinks to the files stored in the central repository. The client is able to open a template by either located the file in the system or by simply clicking on the hyperlink to the file.

The contract management system is a Microsoft Access database that maintains information about stakeholders (contracting officers, contracting officer’s representatives, acquisition consultants and reviewers, and vendors), contract supporting documentation, and budget/expense information. The database user interface includes several forms to enter data, another version of the document template selection matrix, and status reports that may be viewed and printed by any client personnel.

The team prepared and delivered training Microsoft PowerPoint presentations for instructor-led or self-paced learning about the templates, matrix, document management system, and contract management system. The presentations included scored quizzes and were Section 508 (accessibility requirements) compliant. Teamplete delivered the instructor-led training to almost 100 client employees in classrooms and using web seminars. Within hours of completing the instructor-led document template training, several people began using the templates.