probably do realize that their designers, software developers, subject matter experts, trainers, marketing people or other key individuals who have been assigned the responsibility of writing the support documentation would be better off employed doing their proper activities like designing, developing software, support or making sales?
- They generally resent doing it.
- They may not be very good at it (after all, it's not usually what they're trained for).
- It holds up progress by diverting their attention from the tasks they do best.
- They frequently struggle to have the documentation ready.
Also, keep in mind that most technical writing takes up a lot of time to research and complete.
- An initial walkthrough – similar in level to a demonstration that you might provide to a prospective client, but dealing with some behind-the-scenes detail. These walk-throughs are normally recorded for later transcription to a document which is far more effective than making notes.
However, more intensive training may also be necessary for more advanced applications.
- Access to working software or hardware – neither of which need to be in their finished state, as we routinely document systems while still in development. Indeed, this is usually the best approach since it means that the system and its documentation can be ready for release at the same time.
- Periodic access to relevant members of your staff throughout the project to answer specific queries.
- Content reviews - during the development of the documentation, periodic reviews by your SMEs to confirm correctness and accuracy is necessary.
- Any existing documentation that may be available, such as user stories, user requirement and design specifications, are very useful but not essential.
So, in summary, while you may not have the budget to have a full-time technical writer on staff, you can always outsource technical writing to an independent technical writer.
There are a number of benefits to outsourcing an independent Technical writer: