Hire a writer or a technical guy for your documentation needs?

This is a motivating question that forever lies at the rear of my mind. Let us analyze the execs and cons of the two selections. A technically sound person would forever take lesser time to grasp the concept and he would be in a better position to form a document out of the SME’s interview, raise the correct inquiries to the SME and extract the specified info, take advantage of the abilities and retrieve the toughest info at ease. However, there are some glitches or hiccups during this just like the presentation of the document may not be appealing in terms of data formatting, it’d lack consistency, usage of applicable words and terms can be missing, usability factor may be sidelined.

In my opinion, the user looks after a help or user document only if he’s unable to seek out something which is crucial and mostly at times of a crisis. Hence, it’s imperative that the document is arranged out showing neatness and topics are named appropriately.
Let me elaborate through a simple example, if you have to hire a sales agent for an automobile parts product. Would you hire a automobile breakdown specialist or an individual with a previous sales expertise? the choice is easy isn’t it, the latter may be good at technical jargons but lacks the persuasion and convincing skills. The motto for any sales job is “Can you sell a refrigerator to an eskimo?” if the sales personnel meets this demand then he/she will be appointed. No doubt, the subject matter is usually a key because without knowing about the product one cannot sell it. Hence it’s inevitable for a technical writer to learn, explore and perceive the product for which one has to create documentation.

Once the product knowledge is gained half the battle is won, it eases out the pressure of creating a Table of Contents (TOC) according to the deliverable, ask the right queries with the concerned person, use an applicable image that complements the content. Of course, along side the above mentioned skills a technical writer also must have bit of Project Management skills, excellent communication skills, Usability testing, UI designing concepts, Testing the documentation vis-a-vis with the application, good team player and so on.

The technical writer’s deliverable are also changing day by day because the current trend of documentation needs have grown beyond user guide and help guide. Interactive content is the current trend where the user virtually simulates the situation and understands the query in an effective way.

On a closing note, one must always sharpen the saw to stay in the race!!!

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