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How to Set Up a Technical Writing Department in 25 days?

You are on your way to develop a game changing Software, or Hardware, or a Mobile App, and suddenly you hit a roadblock – DOCUMENTATION! You look around in your team and you only see qualified engineers, but the ones who even hate the word, Document! What would you do now?

Set up Technical Writing Department

Congratulations! You are on the right page and about to read the experience of a Technical Writer who has been involved in setting up Technical Writing departments for numerous companies.

Step 1: Identify the documents you would actually need. For example: Online Help; User Manual in the .pdf and MS Word format; Wiki output, or a structured form, which can be used to create documents in multiple formats.

Time: 2 days.

 

Step 2: Based on your requirement, hire a Technical Writer with relevant experience.

Online Help / User Manual: Technical Writer with experience of 3-4 years in creating Online Help and User Manuals and using tools such as: Adobe RoboHelp, or Madcap Flare, or Author IT.

Wiki Output: Technical Writer with experience of 3-4 years in writing user manuals in the Wiki form and using tools such as Confluence.

Structured Output: Technical Writer with experience of 5-6 years in creating content using XML tags or authoring tools such as Structured Framemaker, or Madcap Flare, or oXygen.

Time: 12 days.

It is important to have the first person on board. Once we have hired the first Technical Writer, others would follow from his / her network of fellow Technical Writers and references.

Step 3: Identify the skill / comfort level of the Technical Writer in using an authoring tool. For example: I prefer using Adobe RoboHelp over Madcap Flare.

Buy the authoring tool that the Technical Writer recommends.

Time: 2 days.

Step 4: Identify the style guide to be used; and prepare the application / company-specific document template and style sheets.

Recommended: MSTP 4th edition.

Time: 2 days.

Step 5: Write a Quick Start Guide for the application as per the adhered style guide.

Time: 2 days.


Step 6: Since we need a Technical Writing department, request the hired Technical Writer to provide references and hire at least 2 Technical Writers on Contract with similar expertise and experience.

Time: 5 days.

Total – 25 days.

Follow the above mentioned steps and you are all set to begin your documentation task. Happy Technical Writing J.

About the Author:

Ajay Narang is an experienced Technical Writer and the Co-Founder and Director of King Oranges.

He has been involved in setting up Technical Writing standards for several organizations that include: BNY Mellon, State of India, Xyka Software, and others.

Currently, he manages a team of writers and delivers technical writing projects in different domains such as: Telecom, Retail, BFSI, Shipping, Water Treatment, Web Hosting, and others. You can view his profile from here or here: