How to Create and Deliver Intelligent Information

With a mindmap and a sharp pen – the new structure of IEC/IEEE 82079-1 Ed. 2

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Time to draw a conclusion…

What were our goals at the beginning of the project? Were we able to put our plans into practice? How did the cooperation between 3 organizations (ISO, IEC and IEEE) and 21 experts from 9 countries work out?

With this blog post, we are starting a small series of articles that should illuminate the new IEC/IEEE 82079-1 under different aspects. The first article starts with the new structure of IEC/IEEE 82079-1.

What does a mindmap have to do with a standard?

With the Review Report, we (the international working group consisting of experts from ISO, IEC and IEEE) have already defined our goals in 2014. Above all, the structure and comprehensibility of the standard seemed to be in need of improvement. In addition, we wanted to deal with many topics in more detail and also address new topics such as the challenges associated with the new media or the professional competencies required.

In other words: We did not want to reinvent the wheel; we wanted to modernize and improve the standard considerably. We wanted the standard to give the target audience a coherent overall picture. Restructuring was our first major challenge. In order to give the existing content a better structure, the first step was to convert each clause including text into a mindmap down to the very last sub-clause. We then re-sorted the content in the mindmap and used placeholders for new topics and additions. The placeholders also resulted in our work packages. This is a rather atypical procedure for a standardization project – but pragmatic. In the end, we converted everything into a Word file back and voilà – there it was, our first working draft.

What does the new structure look like?

IEC/IEEE 82079-1 Ed. 2 is now divided into the following clauses:

(1) Scope

(2) Normative references

(3) Terms and definitions

(4) Fulfillment of requirements (formerly: conformity)

(5) Principles

(6) Information management process

(7) Content of information for use

(8) Structure of information for use

(9) Media and format of information for use

(10) Professional competencies

Annex A (informative) gives guidance for evaluation

And what does it say?

Clause (1) has not been extended, but describes the scope in more detail. Clauses (2) and (3) have been revised, but apart from the new concept of information for use, there are no surprises. However, the new concept is worthy of its own blog article, and thus will only be mentioned here.

Clause (4) contains an essential innovation: The former conformity (in the future: fulfillment of requirements) has moved from clause (7) to clause (4). This is due to new ISO and IEC regulations. The actual innovation, however, is that one can now claim not only the fulfillment of the requirements for information for use, but also the fulfillment of requirements for the information management process.

It is up to the supplier himself (breathe a sigh of relief!) whether he only wants to claim fulfillment of the requirements for the information for use, or also the fulfillment of the requirements for the information management process. There is one exception: For consumer products, only the fulfillment of requirements for information for use is relevant and not the information management process

The previous version already contained principles that contributed to the quality of information for use, but these important principles were scattered all over the standard. We have now summarized these in Clause (5) under “Principles”. We added only one new principle: the “principle of minimalism”.
Almost biblically, there are now seven principles for high-quality information for use:

  • completeness
  • minimalism
  • correctness
  • conciseness
  • consistency
  • comprehensibility
  • accessibility

Also, the information management process is addressed with the principle of using repeatable processes.

Clause (6) is fully dedicated to the information management process.

A distinction is made between four process groups, each of which is dealt with in subclauses:

  • Analysis and Planning of information (6.2)
  • Design and development including review, editing and testing (6.3 )
  • Production and distribution (6.4)
  • Upkeep, maintenance and improvement (6.5)

A large subclause is dedicated to the definition and analysis of the target group.

The content of the information for use is covered in clause (7). All in all, this clause should sound familiar to you. Most of the information is taken from the previous version.

Clause (8) deals with the structure of information for use and is much more detailed than Clause 5.15 in the previous version. This clause recommends the use of information models to structure information for use and suggests 3 approaches:

  • Development of an information model using a structuring method
  • Use of an existing information model, e.g. an open source information model
  • Adaptation of an existing information model using a structuring method

The clause for selecting suitable structuring principles provides detailed help.

In addition, clause (8) describes the structure of step-by-step instructions in detail. Subclause (8.4) is dedicated to navigation and information delivery. Navigation in printed information for use is still covered. However, the aspects of dynamic delivery of information for use, such as context sensitivity and search functions, are central.

In addition, we introduced the consideration of external conditions of use to select the right medium. If, for example, the target audience is a service technician for heating systems and is therefore typically working in poorly lit cellars, paper is not the ideal choice.

In clause (10), we addressed, for the first time, task- and proficiency-related competencies for the creators of information for use and also requirements and recommendations for the competencies of translators.M

My conclusion

I believe that we have achieved something really good with the restructuring of the standard. We did not have “big” discussions about the structuring of the standard. By “big” discussions I mean those that drag on for half a day or longer or that (almost worse) pop up again in every session. Be that as it may, I hope that the new structure will increase the usability of the standard and that the new topics covered will meet the needs of the target group.


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