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A Comprehensive Guide To Technical Documentation

September 28, 2021 No Comments

Featured article by Natalie Redman

If you have any type of tool or software for your business, then chances are you’ll need detailed information and guidance on how to use it successfully. For some, the functionality of the software might be pretty easy to use, whereas for others it’s more complex.

The knowledge of technology isn’t something that is easy to pick up for everyone and so having technical documentation in place can help provide a better understanding for all.

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As a business, you want to provide your employees with all the correct knowledge and information they need to do their jobs successfully. A lack of technical documentation for the tools and software that are in place or being put in place, can impact productivity and work satisfaction.

In this comprehensive guide, you’ll get a better understanding of what a technical document is, the different types available and the benefits. Once you’ve learnt about that, we’ve got a handy how-to section on plan, write and deliver effective technical documentation for your business

What is technical documentation?

Technical documentation refers to specific documents that help educate and guide the reader to use the product in question, properly. It holds detailed information about the technical product or service and these documents should be able to clearly articulate what needs to be shared, without any confusion.

With 62% of HR managers believing they don’t do a good job meeting a learner’s needs, it’s useful to have such documents in place to provide extra training.

These documents are used across a variety of industries from engineering to marketing, IT and much more. It’s important to have technical documentation for the benefit of both the user and business in question.

Ultimately, these documents should be helping your employees, rather than making the process  more complicated. The documentation needs to be clear and concise, which is why it’s important to plan, write up and distribute it effectively.

Types of technical documents

There are various types of technical documents that will likely need creating when using technology within the business. Some of the most common that you’ll find are listed below and may or may not relate to what you need as an organization.

Following are the types and areas of documentation created to achieve the demands of different people using your product or technology:

Development support

This will be relevant to those that need guidance on technical and functional-based specifications. This also covers development guides and relevant tools or procedures in order to carry out their roles effectively.

End-user support

The most common types of technical documents are end-user supporting. This means documents like online help systems, installation and training manuals are all useful to create for your business.

Marketing support

Within thethey’re more product-focused and will provide the opportunity to market your business. These can be anything from presentations, online help, technical landing pages, etc.

Organization support

Technical documentation for organization support will be helpful information on the company itself, the procedures and structure. This could be policies, maintenance manuals and anything that could be considered important for your employees to do their jobs efficiently.

The benefits of technical documentation

According to LinkedIn, they found that 94% of employees would stay with a company longer if there was an investment in learning. There are many benefits that come with technical documentation, which can not only help both your employees but also any customers that may need to use your products or services.

Helps save on resources

Without clear and understandable documentation, you could end up wasting more resources in the form of time and effort. This can be dealing with technical difficulties that your customers are facing with the product and that customer support services need to help with.

The same applies to your employees, who may end up spending more time troubleshooting technical issues over getting the tasks they need done for the working day.

Regardless of whether you are a small organization or a large one, having the right technical documentation in place can save on those valuable resources that are useful elsewhere.

Improves customer retention

With well-written and detailed technical documentation, it helps better your customer’s experience. There’s nothing more frustrating than investing your money into a product or service and then having trouble understanding it’s operation.

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It is important for your customers to have an enjoyable experience with your brand because it ultimately influences their loyalty to the business. First impressions count and if you’re not delivering on customer satisfaction from the beginning, then chances are you’re going to lose those customers to your competition.

With 33% of Americans saying they’ll consider switching companies after just one single experience of poor service, you can’t afford to mess it up.

Gives your employees the tools to perform better

As an organization, your employees can only do so much without having the proper tools and equipment in place. A lack of productivity or ability to complete work tasks can occur when assistance isn’t provided by you as the employer.

With technical documentation, you can help your employees by giving them the right training materials and guidance. Productivity can be a critical element to your business and with these types of documents in place, you’re likely to see an improvement in your employee’s performance.

Not every work process or task is going to be easily carried out unless technical documentation exists within the business.

Elevates your sales

For customers, one of the benefits to having technical documentation is providing a solution to their problems. Fulfilling a customer’s needs will essentially provide not only a better experience but can also influence future purchases.

When making technical documentation, you want it to be engaging and easy to use. It helps the user to understand and navigate using the product or service in a much more efficient way. By saving them time and effort, it’s going to hopefully turn into more positive reviews of the product, higher ratings and more importantly, increased sales.

It’s clear that this type of documentation in place can be really handy for business, your internal workforce but also for your customers too.

How to create technical documentation

So now that you understand the benefits that come with having technical documentation in place, how do you go about creating it? Here are some tips on how to create high-quality and effective documentation in a step-by-step process.

1. Know your users

You firstly need to know who your audience is. For example, if you’re creating an instruction manual or guide for your customers to use, then you’ll want to know who they are. That way, you can deliver the content to them in a way that they can easily understand.

If your audience is younger, then you may want to have more visual content, including how-to videos and short snippets of text. For technical documentation aimed at employees responsible for maintenance of products, there may be a need for more technical jargon.

Think about who your audience is and what they require from the content first and foremost.

2. Express your intent for the reader

Expressing your intentions to the reader is important because they need to know what the purpose of the document is. What will the document achieve when it comes to the user and how will they benefit from engaging with this technical documentation.

Despite how long or short the documentation may be, it’s important that the user knows the benefits from using it. If you’re clear and concise in the document’s objective for the reader, then it’ll be a lot easier to create something that’s successful.

3. Use an outline for the documentation

If you’ve never written or put together a technical documentation before, then you’ll want to use some sort of guide or outline to structure it properly.

Having an outline can ensure your documents include everything that’s necessary for the user, whilst helping them navigate the document easily. Things like headings, sub-headings and a table of content can be helpful.

4. Re-read and revise

When you’ve created the document, just like any typical document you’ve created, it’s good to re-read and revise it. You’re likely going to have one or two drafts that you’ll want to make amendments to, tweaking the content here and there.

This is an important part of the process because it ensures you have everything included and that nothing is missing or that it’s difficult to understand.

Implement technical documentation for your business

If your technical documentation needs improving, or you simply haven’t got something like this in place, then now is as good a time as any to start. Technical documentation can help boost productivity within the workplace and provide better experiences for both your employees and customers.

Technical documentation plays a critical role in helping support those who support you, whether it’s the customers that provide the sales or employees working hard to make those sales happen. Implement these documents into your business and you’ll see the benefits across all areas of your business.

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About the Author

Natalie Redman (LinkedIn)

Freelance writer for many clients across multiple industries. Natalie has two years of copywriting experience. Natalie has a wide range of experience copywriting for web pages for businesses across many industries. She’s also an owner of two blog websites and a Youtube content creator.

Email – natalieannredman92@gmail.com

 

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