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

Use Mid-Year Reviews to Evaluate Technical Writing Outsourcing Needs

Regularly setting goals and then measuring success is the most effective way to grow and sustain a business. That’s why department managers are expected to develop operational plans at the beginning of each year and then periodically review those plans to make sure their department stays on track to achieve its annual goals. Typically, technical writing services managers are responsible for developing and reviewing their own Documentation Plans and Performance Evaluations, and June is the key milestone time for performing these reviews. (I know it’s hard to believe that 2014 is almost half over.)

Technical Documentation OutsourcingMid-year documentation planning reviews allow technical writing services managers to make proactive, course assessments of their departmental needs and performance evaluations gauge whether the current team is capable of meeting the annual goals by means of bandwidth, skill, and ability to meet expectations.

Considerations for the mid-year documentation plan review

  • Is your documentation plan still relevant?
  • Is the plan realistically achievable after reviewing the first half of the year?
  • Is your department’s budget adequate to meet the department’s obligations?
  • What changes should be made to keep the plan current?
  • Do you have adequate in-house resources to complete the identified workload?
  • Do you need to outsource part of your workload to a strategic partner to complete the annual goals on time?

Criteria to consider when deciding to outsource document development

  • Is your current team overloaded, working overtime, or burning out?
  • Will outsourcing enable you to keep the SMEs focused on their most value-added activity (product design)?
  • Does the project require skills not available from your in-house employees?
  • Can the project be performed more cost effectively if outsourced?

Attribution: Image used above is courtesy of stockimages /

10 Tips for Ensuring a Positive Outsourcing Experience

Follow the 10-step strategy below to ensure a positive experience when outsourcing technical writing services to your strategic partner:

  1. Develop a Style Guide and use it to provide the basic building blocks needed for generating consistent, readable, and usable content across all documentation related to your products.
  2. Establish a controlled vocabulary and terminology list to avoid confusion and simplify information retrieval.
  3. Select a strategic partner that understands your industry's regulatory, environmental, health, safety, and contractual obligations and requirements. This is especially critical if your documentation department operates in a regulated environment such as medical devices or food services.
  4. Internationalize your design and use Unicode fonts whenever writing for translation.
  5. Maintain style consistency within documents sets where possible, keeping in mind that it’s more important that documents meet regulatory requirements and are internally consistent than that they follow any particular stylistic convention.
  6. Write as if your audience is not familiar with your topic.
  7. Use standard words and phrases, where possible, and use them in the proper context.
  8. Write in clear, concise paragraphs and use logical transitions.
  9. Complete ideas and use grammatically correct sentences.
  10. Always incorporate an editing phase into your work.

For previous blogs on topics presented above, read:

When working on outsourced documentation projects for clients, Novatek recommends using a Statement of Work (SOW) to confirm all details about the project and serve as the formal project agreement between the client and the vendor.

Download our free template:
Sample Statement of Work


How does your company evaluate outsourcing needs? Share your experiences in the comments below.

Topics: controlling cost, technical writing services, Business productivity