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How to Implement Technical Documentation

Posted by
Anastasia in Education on 5/25/20184 min read

How to Implement Technical Documentation

Almost any product has some kind of documentation to go with it. It might be just a warning or brief usage instructions. And, still, even then, there’s supposed to be a person allocated to write these two lines, and, more importantly, to decide what’s even supposed to be written. For more complex products, however, there has to be a solid user guide. Otherwise, your support is going to blow up with angry calls and messages from dissatisfied customers. But how to actually implement technical documentation from scratch? In this article, we are going to give you the general idea of the documentation implementation process.

People

If you don’t have any technical writers on staff, you can go two ways about it - hire fulltime specialists or contract with someone for part-time work. It depends on the workload, really. For some companies, it makes more sense to have a part-time contractor to do the job.

If your technical documentation project is going to be pretty big and require constant update and maintenance, then you should really think about having a documentation team of your own. Of course, this approach requires a lot of time and resources, but, at the end of the day, you will have a team of professionals who know your product like the back of their hand.

Process

Process

At this step, you’ll need to basically marry your technical and documentation processes in terms of planning, timelines and deliverables. Starting now, technical writers have to be invited to all planning discussions and technical meetings as documentation needs to be up-to-date. With each new product release, there’s supposed to be a release from the documentation team, as well. Keeping documentation updated can be of great help as far as case deflection and how successful your customers are with the product are concerned.

Format

A user guide format depends on the industry you are in. Technical documentation can be shipped along with your product as a printed user manual or on a CD, for example. If possible, consider the online documentation format. Nowadays, most companies have made it their format of choice. And, there are many reasons for this. The first and foremost - such documentation is easily searchable in Google. All your users will need is a browser and an Internet connection to get the answers.

Web-based solutions have a lot to offer. When you get your online documentation portal running, your marketing team will instantly feel the benefits of additional exposure on the web. You can turn your online user guide into a powerful marketing tool by means of branding, keywords, and searchability.

Format

If you want to learn more about the benefits of your documentation being published online, check out this post called ‘18 Billion Reasons’.

Tools

As soon as you figure out the documentation format and assemble the team, it is time to look for the right tools.

Tools

Luckily, there are a lot of ready solutions out there a.k.a. HAT, or help authoring tools. These are special tools developed for technical writers, and they are so much more than just software for text editing. Most modern solutions for technical writers are very flexible meaning that you will be able to adjust the tool to your specific needs.

Help authoring tools like ClickHelp include features for organizing the workflow the way it works for you. For example, different roles can be assigned to users, there are email notifications, topic statuses, review process functionality and more. So, you can either adjust the tool, or build a whole new working process around the functionality your help authoring solution has to offer.

Conclusion

This is how technical documentation is implemented in general. Of course, this whole process is much more complex in reality. In this article, we have covered only some high-level elements of user guide implementation. We hope that this post will help you see the whole picture, and, from there, you will be able to move to more serious in-depth stuff and become successful at organizing and adopting help authoring processes in your company.

Good Luck with your technical writing!
ClickHelp Team
Author, host and deliver documentation across platforms and devices

 

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