Document Description: Level and Tier

E

energy

#1
Level 1, 2, 3, 4

Can anybody tell me where the Documentation Pyramid originated? I've even seen reference to Tier 5 ( Ad Hoc Temporary Documents )? Is it in a guideline? Maybe I can't see the forest for the trees. Thanks.
Is this question so basic that I should know the answer, or is this documentation tier one of those things that have been around so long that no-one remembers where it started?
Well, I have visited several ISO sites and asked this question. The response is the same as this one. I'm beginning to get the feeling that the practice began with the Pied Piper. This question was put to me by an employee who was being "familiarized" with the standard. I couldn't answer him and, it appears, that I'm not alone.
[This message has been edited by energy (edited 29 December 2000).]

[This message has been edited by energy (edited 09 January 2001).]

[This message has been edited by energy (edited 09 January 2001).]
 
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Marc

Hunkered Down for the Duration
Staff member
Admin
#2
I don't know what the origin of the pyramid is other than to say it is 'typically representative' of a structured documentation system in business.

It is not a requirement per se. The thing is, how else can you represent a documentation structure. You almost always have a high level guidance document, etc. But - as I have told all my clients -- don't be fooled into thinking there is a 'pure' document'. This is to say, a level I is not always (and typically is not) just a policy manual, for example. You can look at a document with respect to what it does and most of the time you can classify it. But it will almost always have elements of a level III as well as elements of a level II.

I have seen some companies where the distinction is only between the quality manual and 'other' procedures and related documents. Typically small companies (5 to 20 people) have very few procedures, etc.

Take a look at The Free Files Directory - Look for Doc_Matrix.pdf - It's from a small company. Distinguishing level II from level III (well, you have to read them and BTW most are flow charts) is difficult.

By the way, I added 'Tier 5' about 5 years ago to 'my' pyramid. I did this because in an early ISO audit the auditor started jumping up and down about an employee taking data for an investigation. "How does it fit in your system?", "How are these test procedures controlled?" and similar questions. If you look on the pyramid I have here you'll see 'Tier 5' as 'Ad Hoc' documents such as these.

Don't get caught up in a trap where you think all your documents have be 'pure to the tier' in content. That said, the pyramid DOES represent the structure most found. I think it is a good structure to build a documentation system around.

[This message has been edited by Marc Smith (edited 12 January 2001).]
 

Marc

Hunkered Down for the Duration
Staff member
Admin
#3
Here is a document hierarchy example Documentation Hierarchy

I recently saw, for the first time, another pyramid with a 5th level they labeled 'Corrective Action Requests' which I think is sorta silly, but then again....

I had to bring up this Blast from the Past! Energy, this one's for YOU (since you linked it already in another thread...)! :thedeal:
 

Wes Bucey

Quite Involved in Discussions
#4
FWIW -Document levels, tiers, etc.

Marc said:
I had to bring up this Blast from the Past! Energy, this one's for YOU (since you linked it already in another thread...)! :thedeal:
FWIW, ASQ Management Division has a Body of Knowledge (BOK) for Quality Managers (The Certified Quality Manager Handbook, edited by Duke Okes and Russell T. Westcott.)

In general, they describe the concept of "tiers" or "levels" of documentation rising from the pyramid of ISO9001:1994 (Yeah - Level 1 = Quality Manual; Level 2 = Procedures; Level 3 = Work Instructions; Level 4 = Records.)

That's all "dogtrot".

On the very next page, the editors state: (direct quote, p. 154 of 2nd edition)
"Excepting those Standards which an organization may impose upon itself, there are no prescribed standards for composing or formatting a documented system. Some of the possible variations are:
  • outline with bulleted text
  • process map with annotations
  • process map with adjacent outline text
  • photographs depicting different stages in process with outlined text\checklists"
Ultimately, even ASQ, the USA guardian of the crown jewels, says, in effect:
"Do what makes sense for your organization!"

So, to answer Energy:
  • "tier" and "level" are interchangeable terms.
  • the concept of levels derives from ISO 1994, but everyone who counts says that's only a "guideline," NOT the Standard.
 
E

energy

#5
Wes Bucey said:
FWIW, ASQ Management Division has a Body of Knowledge (BOK) for Quality Managers (The Certified Quality Manager Handbook, edited by Duke Okes and Russell T. Westcott.)

In general, they describe the concept of "tiers" or "levels" of documentation rising from the pyramid of ISO9001:1994 (Yeah - Level 1 = Quality Manual; Level 2 = Procedures; Level 3 = Work Instructions; Level 4 = Records.)
Is this what the authors said or is it in the ISO 1994 Standard? I had a couple of consultants/trainers who couldn't convince me. Point me in the right direction, my document maven. (I know you like that word). Me too. ;)
Wes Bucey said:
So, to answer Energy:
  • "tier" and "level" are interchangeable terms.

  • Never had a doubt. :thanx:
    Wes Bucey said:
    [*]the concept of levels derives from ISO 1994, but everyone who counts says that's only a "guideline," NOT the Standard.
Where in the standard? I don't have my copy at the ready these days. :confused:
Thanks for the research. I know that it's time consuming. :agree:
 

howste

Thaumaturge
Super Moderator
#6
I blew the dust off my copy of ISO 9001:1994 (figuratively anyway, since it's a pdf file) and searched for "level" and "tier" as it relates to documents. I came up with nothing. However when I pulled out QS-9000, right there on page 6 was the classic pyramid in all its glory.
 

Attachments

E

energy

#7
The Chicken or the egg?

howste said:
I blew the dust off my copy of ISO 9001:1994 (figuratively anyway, since it's a pdf file) and searched for "level" and "tier" as it relates to documents. I came up with nothing. However when I pulled out QS-9000, right there on page 6 was the classic pyramid in all its glory.
Thanks Thaumaturge,

That's what my original problem was. The Standard. Everybody was telling me "it's in the Standard". Like, "Read the Standard, Stupid!" :vfunny: Thanks for another publication to add to the list of "Authors". :vfunny: :agree:
 
Last edited by a moderator:

Tom W

Living the Dream...
#9
Fifth Level

I actually added a fifth level a few years ago for my company. Informally I refer to Customer Specifications and other "External Documents" as fifth level. We have many and this was a good start for me to give a common title to them - either external documents or Level V documents.
 
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