Let’s be honest, most companies never realize the need for a Technical Writer until they;
- Have an Audit
- Have piles of inconsistent and unorganized documents
- Are having problems communicating standards to employees or a specific audience
- Are unsure about what type of documents are necessary for their company
- Have lots of documents and are not sure how or where to store them
Before we begin, I think it is important to understand what a Technical Writer does.
The role of a Technical Writer is to explain in a very simple language scientific and technical, the ideas that are difficult for the average reader to understand. This typically means creating user guides, online help, and instruction manuals, but also includes training material, process documentation, SOP’s and company policies.
If you have an existing company or considering launching a new company, you will need to understand the need for a technical writer and why it is crucial to invest in one right away.
One thing a company (whether existing or startup) will need to understand when dealing with documentation is that document organization and storage is key. By storage and organization I mean understanding the difference between all company documentation, and how they are stored.
Below are some quick examples;
- SOP’s (Standard Operating Procedures) – Technical standards normally written as mandatory rules and usage for software applications, devices, or appliance security
- Company Policies – Usually written in a company handbook
- Guides (aka Job Aid or How-to) – A step by step instruction manual on how to complete a specific task
Though all of these sound eerily vague, it is important to know that they are all needed in a company setting. At some point they will all be necessary to successfully build, create, edit, review and store technical documentation. In this present day of technology, Technical Writers are needed because they have the capacity to not only understand technical data, or the difference between most forms of documentation, but are able to successfully convey the data to the intended audience, as well as how to manage and store them.
In my 6 years of experience as a Technical Writer, I’ve seen companies grow so fast that they forget the importance of managing their documentation. This instability could be a hazard to companies who are wanting to stay consistent and ahead of the technology curve. Adding a good Technical Writer who understands your company’s document structure and information flow, can provide you with the gift of document organization and also create a good document flow schema to have employees follow thereafter.