Advice and best practices for writing SOPs, training for product launch, outsourcing technical documentation, and more.

Rethink Outsourcing: 10 Tips for Success and Cost Savings

There are many reasons why a company chooses to outsource their technical writing services projects. Typical reasons may include:

  • Insufficient internal resourcesQuality System Documentation
  • Internal resources that need to be used on other projects
  • Variable workload
  • Operating costs that need to be reduced

If you are considering outsourcing part or all of your company’s technical writing services in 2014 for any of these reasons, you need to select a vendor that will work with you as a partner, fit into your company’s strategic plan, and provide client-centered solutions.

Working with such a partner is a great way to get a new perspective on implementing your technical writing goals, learning industry best-practices, and gaining insight on how other companies structure their technical manuals. Your partner should have experience in implementing a variety of technical manuals for other clients in your industry so they can best recommend how to structure content and adapt templates in ways that suit your products and users. Using outsourcing is a business strategy that allows you to get a team of professional technical writers without the overhead. This alone is advantageous to controlling operating costs and managing a variable workload.

10 Tips for Achieving a Successful Outsourcing Experience

As you evaluate your choices for a vendor/partner for your outsourced technical writing projects, consider the following:

  1. Look for a vendor with a track record of success in your industry. Start your search process with recommendations from friends and colleagues. Your goal is to select the best partner that aligns with your business objectives.

  2.  Appoint an internal manager that will be held responsible for  monitoring your outsourced technical writing project. Set a timetable to review your vendor/partner's performance as the project moves forward. This strategy will allow you to deal with and mitigate unforeseen issues on a timelier basis.

  3. Determine if a project manager will be required. Complex projects with numerous milestones generally require a project manager. Confirm up front that your vendor/partner can supply that expertise if needed.

  4. Get buy-in from your Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) before you outsource. Technical documentation relies on the participation of your in-house SMEs. No technical writing services firm or technical writer, regardless of how good they are, can compensate for lack of participation and buy-in from the SMEs. Your SMEs must agree up front to actively participate with the vendor in the collection, review, and approval of all technical content.

  5. Define your audience and objectives. Identify your target audience so the technical writer can design your content to meet the needs of the target audience. It is also critical to understand what the audience needs to know, versus what is non-essential, so that you don’t waste time and cost developing and maintaining unnecessary information.

  6. Plan ahead for document translation. Content intended for multiple global markets requires a specialized approach to writing, graphics, and formatting. Writing for translation utilizes translation memory, saving you time and cost during the translation phase.

  7. Set a realistic budget. Make sure your budget is consistent with your expectations and with the realities of your project. There is a major cost difference between revising a legacy document for an interim product release and creating a completely new set of product documentation from scratch. Similarly, documents that have a lot of graphics or require numerous review cycles, or documents for which source material is difficult to obtain, will require a larger budget.

  8. Define roles and responsibilities up front. The vendor’s team will be an extension of your company’s in-house resources. As such, there may be overlapping roles for which you assign final responsibility. For example, will the final document review be done by the vendor/partner or by your in-house resources?

  9. Define realistic review and approval cycles. Outsourcing technical writing services does not eliminate the need for timely SME reviews and approvals. Make sure your project plan spells out the specific responsibilities of each SME. If you delegate final approval responsibility to the vendor/partner, clearly define the criteria for acceptance of the final document.

  10. Spell out what the deliverables will be up front. Define all deliverables as well as how and when all source files will be returned to your company.


Consider Novatek as your outsourcing experts in 2014:

Should you find your in-house documentation team, understaffed, overloaded, or overwhelmed in 2014, consider outsourcing your documentation projects to Novatek. We help medical device manufacturers to identify and capture the knowhow that people need, package it creatively into integrated documentation and training, and deploy it so that it is easy and engaging. Novatek creates Active Knowledge by delivering the right information to the right people through the right medium, so that information is top-of-mind or easily references at their fingertips. 


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Topics: outsourcing, controlling cost, technical writing services, Business productivity