Posts with the Tag: documentation
Documentation is very important to each customer but companies often see documentation as an afterthought, an add-on, or an extra that doesn’t bring in more revenue. As a result, updating product documentation doesn’t always get the priority it deserves.
In her article, How Out-of-Date Documentation Can Cost You, Your Brand and Your Company, Jacquie Samuels provides some insight on why treating documentation as an add-on or an afterthought can be a costly mistake. She goes on to explain how out-of-date documentation is really worse than providing no documentation at all.
Read How Out of Date Documentation Can Cost You, Your Brand and Your Company and then leave a comment here with your thoughts. Is documentation being shortchanged where you work? How have you overcome this misconception in the past? We’d love to hear from you.
Your company already spends enough money – and you’d love to spend less. You’ve looked over your budget again and again, and it may have seemed as though you already cut all you could. But is this the truth? You may not realize how you’re increasing your spending by not hiring a competent technical writer.
Think about what your intentions are when you provide your customer with technical documentation. You provide this information in order to make sure customers have the information they need to use a product or service. (And so that they don’t come back to you with questions.)
While you might expect developers to get stuck with writing the documentation in a smaller or newer organization, even an established company can end up with developer-written documentation.
It’s not that developers don’t write well or can’t write documentation. They certainly could…if they weren’t developing the product. The problem is that developers are too close to their product.
Jacquie Samuels discusses this dilemma in her article, Why Developers Write Horrible Documentation.
Read the article and then leave a comment here. What has been your experience with developer-written documentation?
As business grow and become more successful, the need for well-documented processes expands. This need is driven by a variety of factors including, but not limited to:
- Refinement of work duties as work becomes more specialized
- Personnel turnover
- Requirements that get instituted that are beyond the company’s control
- Catastrophic events
Planning ahead to get processes documented and keep them up to date can avoid the stress of undergoing a massive brain dump at a time when all the necessary resources may not be available.
Marcia Weedon discusses these issues and the need for well-documented processes in her article, The Value of Documented Processes.
Read the article and then leave a comment here. Have you been in a situation where where processes were inadequately documented? How were those challenges met?
Standard Operation Procedures, or SOPs as they are commonly known, are snapshots of a company’s life force, which is always in a state of flux and change. When SOPs are well-written, they become one of the best tools for making improvement decisions.
Many companies put off documenting their processes and procedures because they are too sheepish to admit that these are not yet in a state of perfection. Perfection, however, is never a requirement for the well-written SOP.
Marcia Weedon discusses the structure for well-written SOPs, and how they can be one of the best tools for keeping abreast with change in her article, The Well Written SOP – Critical for Continuous Improvement.
Read the article and then leave a comment here. Are there any special steps you take when prepare SOP documents? Do you agree they”re a critical tool for continuous process improvement?
Technical documentation has many diverse drivers, but ultimately, it all strives to perform one function: assist users so they can do what they want to do with the product. Sometimes they already know what they want to do, other times the documentation helps educate them.
By the time users call Support, they are a) annoyed with the documentation, b) annoyed with the product, and c) annoyed with the company. What they want and what they need is for the documentation to answer their questions.
Jacquie Samuels discusses how great documentation can save money on tech support, and even includes a calculator to help you understand just how much you can be saving in her article, How Documentation Can Save You Big Bucks When it Comes to Support.
Read the article and then leave a comment here. Are you aware of other areas beyond tech support where great documentation can save money?
Documentation is often the last push in the great effort to get a product out the door and into the hands of your customers. Because of that, it often either gets a glossing over or gets neglected all together.
Documentation is usually seens as a product add-on, a little something extra that’s not really essential to the product itself. Now, if you were a technical writer or information developer with that attitude, you’d have a hard time being very successful in your career, wouldn’t you?
But guess what: that’s how customers often see it.
Jacquie Samuels takes an in-depth look at the issue and what the repercussion might be, in her article, How Out-of-Date Documentation Can Cost You Your Brand and Your Company.
Read the article and then leave a comment here. What are your thoughts on out-of-date documentation?
It’s common to find technical documents that are more than a few hundred pages. That alone can cause a reader to step away, quickly, from the document. While there are cases when more details are necessary, some technical writers have stopped worrying about the reader and about how bloated texts can lead to confusion. With more concise writing methods, technical writing becomes more brief, but no less effective or accurate.
To help create the most concise technical document:
Technical writing can certainly be a process of learning the skills through a course from a university or going to a conference. But using hypothetical situations isn’t as effective as putting technical writing skills into use. At Northwestern State University, students are learning about writing technical documentation while building robots.
Surprisingly, the course in which students are learning about technical writing isn’t a technical course or a technology class. They’re learning in an English class, building their technical writing skills with each step of the robot-making process.
Why does this process work to teach skills? According to the instructor, Ramey Prince, students learn because:
A common trouble with technical writing is the ability of the writer to connect to the end user. Because many technical writers are already experts in the field, they might not be able to approach the information from a completely new perspective, leaving readers feeling lost or confused.
But there are many ways in which a technical writer can ensure the writing addresses the thinking ability of the reader. Here are just a few: