It’s all about team work!
Well-written instructions about your product or technology is as important as the product itself. It takes team work to develop your product. And, it takes team work to document your product capabilities so that it can be easily understood and utilized by your customer. Whether or not a technical documentation project is produced in-house or outsourced, team work will be required to deliver high-quality documentation on time and within budget.
When outsourcing technical writing services, the desired outcome is to have a successful experience. This can be achieved by selecting a strategic partner/vendor that complements your in-house development and documentation teams.
Make sure your strategic partner/vendor is a good match
- Knows your industry
- Shares similar values
- Aligns with your priorities
- Employs professional technical writers
Using professional technical writers adds value
Professional technical writers possess an expertise in understanding and analyzing technical information and presenting it in an organized, simple, and easily-understood manner to your targeted audience. They are able to structure complex technical information in a user friendly manner. They also gauge what information is critical for the reader─the most important being how to use the product efficiently rather than details of how or why it works.
Traits to look for in a strategic partner/vendor
- Has a reputation for delivering as promised
- Employs professional technical writers with experience and initiative
- Provides a strong training program for employees
- Invests in technology and service capabilities to stay current
- Utilizes proven "best practices" management and documentation strategies
Attribute: Photo above courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net
7 Tips for Ensuring a Successful Technical Writing Outsourcing Project
The right mix of selecting the best partner, planning, managing, and monitoring can make the difference in completing a project on time, on budget, and with results that exceed expectations.
- Preferably select a technical writing services vendor, that knows your business, as your strategic partner. Read, 3 Reasons Why a Strategic Partner is Your Best Choice for Outsourcing.
- Clearly define your project’s scope of work and your deadlines up front. For tips on creating a formal Statement of Work (SOW) document, refer to post Technical Writing Services: Defining the Game Plan.
- Define realistic review and approval cycles. Make sure your project plan spells out the specific responsibilities of each Subject Matter Expert (SME).
- Utilize a Style Guide and provide a controlled vocabulary. Style Guides provide the basic building blocks needed for generating consistent, readable, and usable, content across all documentation related to your products; a controlled vocabulary avoids confusion and simplifies information retrieval.
- Establish an agreed-upon process for communication among team members. It’s important to stay in touch so there are no surprises.
- For companies in the medical devices industry, always follow applicable regulatory, environmental, health, safety, and contractual obligations and requirements. Make sure your content is written with an FDA audit in mind.
- Continually monitor the progress of your project to make sure schedules are met. Assign an internal manager that will be responsible for tracking your project. Refer to previous post Task Tracking the Progress of a Technical Writing Project for guidelines.
When working on outsourced documentation projects for clients, Novatek recommends using a formal Statement of Work (SOW) to confirm all details about the project and serve as the project’s official contract between the client and the vendor.