Although many businesses believe that tasks like technical writing are better done in-house. Some 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?  

There are major disadvantages to assigning alternatively skilled people with tasks as time-consuming as software user documentation which in most cases puts them out of their comfort and real skill zone:

  • 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.
This approach may be too difficult to define in your balance sheet, but in terms of lost time and focus, it can prove to be an expensive option. 
  • The cost of employing a team of in-house technical writers is not really viable for most organizations.
  • An outsourced technical writing provider can give your documentation a fresh and innovative perspective.
  • So, to re-emphasize your internal employees can stay focused on their most value-added activities.
  • And lastly, an outsourced technical writer usually produces the documentation faster. These writers are likely more up-to-date on trends and use the latest documentation authoring tools

Also, keep in mind that most technical writing takes up a lot of time to research and complete.

Our primary objective is to provide you with the best possible documentation with the least demand on your resources. You will be surprised at just how little of their time I really need!
Typically, my only requirements are:

  • 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:

An extra resource for your Development team

An extra member is added to your development staff whether working on or offsite.

Your developers can focus on their core skills

Being very close to a subject is not always the best position from which to describe it to others. Developers are expert on writing code and their tendency is to write about it on very technical level. A technical author will be able to extract essential knowledge and present it using the appropriate tone and register required for a specific audience using a product.

High-level skill set

The outsourced firm immediately provides the skills required to produce correct level of expertise. The ability to understand and interpret your software and turn it into a clear, concise document.

No recruitment overhead

Hiring and training staff for short-term or peripheral projects can be very expensive. Don't concern yourself with extra employee benefits and taxes. Outsourcing lets you focus your human resources where you need them most.

No training and staff development costs

An outsourced firm is able to start a project almost immediately. Effecting the same project in-house might involve weeks or months to hire the right people, train them, and provide the support and equipment they need.
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