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Authoring and Maintaining Documentation

The documentation you provide with your product is a direct way of communicating with your users. Moreover, a lot of your users only read these texts if they want to learn something, or if something is not working properly. In other words, it’s a tough crowd that’s hard to please!

Writing and maintaining effective technical documentation is a real challenge. A lot of companies that are just starting out with documentation, face challenges related to authoring and maintenance.

In most cases, writing documentation is assigned to any staff member that appears to be a ‘good communicator’, such as representatives of customer service, sales, implementation and in rare cases, development. While these people may be great at their job, they won’t be able to write a good user guide without basic training.

Additionally, working with many authors creates a lot of problems with regards to voice and style of your documentation. After all, a sales person will write a sexy, wordy text while a customer service representative will focus on potential problems and bugs. Typically, developers will use complicated technical terms that hardly any of your users will understand. Let’s not even go into actual language skills of non-native or even native speakers of the documentation language.

A particular challenge of documentation is maintenance. Particularly in the IT sector, agile principles lead to small but many releases. That means the documentation needs to be agile too. In most cases, different versions of the software package are being used at different client sites, which leads to complicated branches that need to be merged or split. It’s crucial to have a clear strategy with regards to versioning and management.

Unfortunately, there is no easy, all-comprehensive solution. However, even a one-day training can make a world of difference. Three main principles will greatly facilitate documentation: introducing a clear, customised style guide, knowledge of terminological principles and topic-based writing. Flynxo can help you set up and implement all three, including software that supports your way of working! Reach out for more information.

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