User documentation standards

Here is the full set of user documentation standards from ISO/IEC JTC1/Sc7/WG2:

ISO/IEC 26511:2011 Systems and software engineering — Requirements for managers of user documentation

ISO/IEC 26511:2011 specifies procedures for managing user documentation throughout the software life cycle. It applies to people or organizations producing suites of documentation, to those undertaking a single documentation project, and to documentation produced internally, as well as to documentation contracted to outside service organizations. It provides an overview of the software documentation and information management processes, and also presents aspects of portfolio planning and content management that user documentation managers apply. It covers management activities in starting a project, including setting up procedures and specifications, establishing infrastructure, and building a team. It includes examples of roles needed on a user documentation team. It addresses measurements and estimates needed for management control, and the use of supporting processes such as change management, schedule and cost control, resource management, and quality management and process improvement. It includes requirements for key documents produced for user documentation management, including documentation plans and documentation management plans. ISO/IEC 26511:2011 is independent of the software tools that may be used to produce or manage documentation, and applies to both printed documentation and on-screen documentation. Much of its guidance is applicable to user documentation for systems including hardware as well as software.

ISO/IEC 26512:2011 Systems and software engineering — Requirements for acquirers and suppliers of user documentation

ISO/IEC/IEEE 26512:2011 was developed to assist users of ISO/IEC 15288:2008 or ISO/IEC 12207:2008 to acquire or supply software user documentation as part of the software life cycle processes. It defines the documentation process from the acquirer’s standpoint and the supplier’s standpoint. ISO/IEC/IEEE 26512:2011 covers the requirements for information items used in the acquisition of user documentation products: the Acquisition Plan, Document Specification, Statement of Work, Request for Proposals, and the proposal. It provides an overview of the software user documentation and information management processes which may require acquisition and supply of software user documentation products and services. It addresses the preparation of requirements for software user documentation. These requirements are central to the user documentation specification and Statement of Work. It includes requirements for primary document outputs of the acquisition and supply process: the Request for Proposal and the Proposal for user documentation products and services. It also discusses the use of a Documentation Management Plan and a Document Plan as they arise in the acquisition and supply processes. ISO/IEC/IEEE 26512:2011 is independent of the software tools that may be used to produce documentation, and applies to both printed documentation and on-screen documentation. Much of its guidance is applicable to user documentation for systems including hardware as well as software.

ISO/IEC 26513:2009 Systems and software engineering – Requirements for testers and reviewers of user documentation

SO/IEC 26513:2009 was developed to assist those who test and review software user documentation as part of the software life cycle process. It will be useful for testers, reviewers and other related roles, including a variety of specialists such as information designers or architects involved in planning the structure and format of products in a documentation set, as well as usability specialists and business analysts who identify the tasks the intended users will perform with the software.

Documentation evaluations are performed throughout the document’s development, production and maintenance and through a range of methods such as:

  • Documentation review
  • System testing
  • Usability testing
  • Accessibility testing
  • Localization and customization testing.

The standard also contains two annexes including informative checklists useful at each phase of the verifying process of the documentation quality that allow testers and reviewers to highlight any defects or non-conformances.

ISO/IEC 26514:2008 Systems and software engineering — Requirements for designers and developers of user documentation

ISO/IEC 26514:2008 provides requirements for the design and development of software user documentation as part of the life cycle processes. It defines the documentation process from the viewpoint of the documentation developer. ISO/IEC 26514:2008 also covers the documentation product. It specifies the structure, content, and format for user documentation, and also provides informative guidance for user documentation style. It is independent of the software tools that may be used to produce documentation, and applies to both printed documentation and on-screen documentation. Much of ISO/IEC 26514:2008 is also applicable to user documentation for systems including hardware.

ISO/IEC 26515:2011 Systems and software engineering — Developing user documentation in an agile environment

ISO/IEC 26515:2011 specifies the way in which user documentation can be developed in agile development projects. It is intended for use in all organizations that are using agile development, or are considering implementing their projects using these techniques. It applies to people or organizations producing suites of documentation, to those undertaking a single documentation project, and to documentation produced internally, as well as to documentation contracted to outside service organizations. ISO/IEC 26515:2011 addresses the relationship between the user documentation process and the life cycle documentation process in agile development. It describes how the information developer or project manager may plan and manage the user documentation development in an agile environment. It is intended neither to encourage nor to discourage the use of any particular agile development tools or methods.

ISO/IEC 15289:2011 Systems and software engineering — Content of life-cycle information products (documentation)

SO/IEC/IEEE 15289:2011 provides requirements for identifying and planning the specific information items (information products, documentation) to be developed and revised during systems and software life cycles and service processes. It specifies the purpose and content of all identified systems and software data records and life cycle information items, as well as records and information items for information technology service management. The information item contents are defined according to generic document types (description, plan, policy, procedure, report, request, and specification) and the specific purpose of the document. For simplicity of reference, each information item is described as if it were published as a separate document. However, information items may be unpublished but available in a repository for reference, divided into separate documents or volumes, or combined with other information items into one document. ISO/IEC/IEEE 15289:2011 is based on the life cycle processes specified in ISO/IEC 12207:2008 (IEEE Std 12207-2008) and ISO/IEC 15288:2008 (IEEE Std 15288-2008), and the service management processes specified in ISO/IEC 20000-1:2005 and ISO/IEC 20000-2:2005.
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2 thoughts on “User documentation standards

  1. ITIL is definitely coming to be more vital in today’s IT businesses around the world. Many thanks for this article, it has been a great read and I have actually located it fascinating. I question how well ITIL is being followed by the various companies at presents? I understand that, in my encounter, it does not always go 100 % to strategy – yet thats the reason Itil is only a structure I guess. It leaves some components for interpretation of the adopter which is where often points go a little wrong.

    • I don’t know much about ITIL specifically, but it is difficult to develop standards that are applicable to every kind of business. Some tailoring is needing to make sure the standards are relevant and practical.

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