Documentation nightmares can be a headache for product managers, instructional designers, or project managers. In our years of experience as an outsourced technical writing company, we have heard a lot of stories about technical documentation gone wrong. We usually hear something that sounds like...
"The engineer who wrote our product user manual just gave me 300 pages of information. Our users will never read all this!"
"Our product instructions are unclear and way too technical. Customers constantly call Tech Support confused and asking basic questions that should be in the manual."
"I'm responsible for writing the instructions for our new product, but product development is so time consuming. I don't know how I will be able to complete the documentation in the next few weeks before the product ships!"
When these issues arise, many organizations choose to outsource technical writing tasks to a team of professionals. If you are in a similar situation, below are 3 compelling reasons to consider outsourcing technical writing before the eleventh hour:
1. Keep your engineers focused on their most value-added activity
For most engineers, their role is to specify the product functionality, design and test each component, and evaluate the design’s overall effectiveness, cost, reliability, and safety. With all the education, training, and licensing required to be an engineer, the most value-added activity an engineer can provide is designing your product.
Asking an engineer to suddenly become a writer typically is not a value-added activity. Though they are experts in their field, an engineer's education, training, and certifications often don't transfer into technical writing. Taking their focus away from product design could hinder product success and documentation success.
2. Get a team of professionals without the overhead
A technical writer is trained and skilled at extracting knowledge and presenting it to your audience in a way that is useful and relevant for their purpose. Depending on the complexity of your product and timeline, more than one technical writer may be required. Choosing to hire editors is additional cost but it can provide a second set of eyes to ensure consistent language and usability for end users.
The cost of employing an in-house team of full-time technical writers and editors can be substantial. For every employee hired, the company incurs the cost of:
- Paid time off
- Office space and supplies
- Training and development
And the list goes on. While launching 1-2 products or devices a year is a big accomplishment, the workload can be quite variable for this team. If only a handful of projects need to be completed, it can be wasted cost for an organization to pay salaries year round for writers and editors. Outsourcing technical writing can be advantageous to controlling cost and managing the variable workload.
To better assess how many hours your documentation projects will take, download our estimation guide.
3. Increase customer loyalty
When customers have a positive experience with your brand, they are often likely to purchase again. Besides the human interactions your customers have with sales and technical support, they are also interacting with your content. What product documentation are you providing to them to clarify proper usage? Can they access the documentation immediately when they need it? Do they know how to find it? Is it user-friendly and easy to understand?
Professional technical writers understand and analyze technical information and have the expertise to present a quality document that can be easily understood. Technical writers also gauge what information is critical for the reader, and structure it in a user-friendly, easy-to-read manner.
Want to learn more about how you can get the most out of outsourcing?