Many businesses will require technical documentation in order to meet their legal and regulatory obligations. This documentation may include anything from an executive summary to a white paper to a technical report. Every document has a purpose and a place within a business. However, all too often documents are handled as simple things that are there to add or subtract from the overall cost of doing business. What many people don’t realize is that technical documentation plays a vital role within the organisation and plays an even greater role when it comes to the legal and regulatory obligations that are required of businesses.

Technical Assurance1

The need for technical documentation arises from the fact that technology is ever changing. As new technologies are created, it is important to have an accurate account of what is being created and how it should be used. It is important to be able to demonstrate to stakeholders that what is being produced complies with applicable laws, regulations, etc. Additionally, when technical documentation is produced it must meet specific business requirements. These requirements are generally determined by the business itself, the industry that the product or technology belongs to, and by other third parties.

Therefore, even though technical documentation plays a vital role within an organisation it is often overlooked. When a technical document is produced it must be carefully constructed and well documented. Furthermore, it must have a clear focus. In other words, all of the information that is documented must be related to what the stakeholders want to know or understand.

What is technical assurance? In most cases technical documentation is used in order to provide information about what is being produced by an organisation or company. This documentation can be very informative and can often provide detail about what is being produced. For instance, a technical report will discuss a newly designed process, software, or a manufacturing process.

However, this technical documentation can also be used to test whether the organisation or company is achieving the objectives that it wishes to achieve. This documentation must be carefully constructed. The purpose of this documentation is to try and demonstrate that a system, component, or process meets the targeted goals. Technical documents must be constructed in a manner that tries to cover as much detail as possible within a relatively short time period. Within a few days it is usually possible to obtain full documentation of what is being produced and to compare this with what has been documented previously.

The importance of technical documentation is highlighted by the fact that it is often used to mitigate the risk of a technical project failing. If the technical documentation does not prove that a system or component will satisfy the requirements then the likelihood is that the project will fail. This may lead to financial loss, possible litigation, or loss of reputation. However, if the documentation shows that the system or component satisfies the requirements, then the organisation is more likely to be able to avoid these issues. This is known as technical assurance.

Technical Assurance2

If you have a business that has to deal with the public or private sector, you will know what Technical Assurance is all about. This is a sort of risk management activity carried out with the aim of reducing risks by assuring that the systems or programmes of an organization are as efficient as possible. The activities involved in such an exercise are known as verification activities. In this process, the people who carry out the verification activities are called technical assurance specialists. Verification is carried out for a variety of reasons, but the ultimate aim is to make sure that a system, programme or system integration works as effectively as it can.

As defined by the USENET article on Technical Assurance: “The principal function of a technical assurance manager is to ensure that a system’s functionality and effectiveness are verified. When such a system has been validated, a person from the technical assurance team responsible for this activity is called a technical assurance manager. He or she is responsible for collecting a range of information from the systems being tested and verifying it. Verification of a system involves many aspects of a project’s development: systems design, programming, implementation, maintenance and usage.”

Technical Assurance is something totally different than a simple quality control activity. There are a wide variety of reasons why organizations use a technical assurance group. These include eliminating cost by assuring products are in full working condition before they are released to the market and by improving the confidence of end-users that a product or service will indeed perform as described. This is especially important in Information Technology related areas, where the technical term assurance can mean the difference between getting a user’s trust and getting their money lost.

To understand what a technical assurance team does, it helps to know what these groups normally do. The Verification and Validation team verifies that a system is complete and meets the specifications of its designers and developers. The Verification team also verifies that the system’s design and/or programs fulfill the requirements of the customer. When a product is released into the marketplace, it goes through a series of tests and validation steps to assure consumers that it will perform as designed and will meet expected performance levels.

Technical Assurance – Definition and Application focuses on the verification activities performed by a technical assurance team. The team performs a wide range of activities including risk analysis, system design, program analysis, program testing, implementation, maintenance and usage reviews. These activities must be performed in a systematic manner to make sure that the products being released to meet or exceed the expectations of the customer. In most cases, a technical assurance team must verify a system’s capability to complete specific functions; otherwise the reliability of the system would be questioned.

Technical assurance is an ongoing process that must be in place and understood, if a company expects to maintain its competitive edge in a highly competitive global market. It is also vital for the success of a system’s long term viability. The key elements of technical assurance include verification, assurance, and validation. Each component of the process is critical to the other. As a result, developing and maintaining a technical assurance program can be a very challenging undertaking.