Sindhu Surenthran, Documentation Consultant for a Multinational Company joins us in this episode of Knowledgebase Ninjas to discuss how to improve your documentation process.
Connect with Sindhu Surenthran here:
Sindhu’s technical career started with her writing and collaborating with her peers…
She started off as a beginner as so many people do, however she decided to shift her career and conducted her own research on technical writing. The more she uncovered about technical writing the more she was intrigued, at the time not many companies were looking to hire technical writers, and the awareness for having them were low.
The fact that not many companies were looking for technical writers didn’t stop Sindhu from chasing her goal of becoming a technical writer. She was the very first person to become a technical writer within the company.
How to improve your documentation process
Sindhu expertly explains that each company has its own way of conducting their documentation processes. However, she believes that as a technical writer it’s a big responsibility for them to set up a process and make sure that the process brings out the best documentation quality.
Sindhu furthers this by saying that the first thing is to understand the audience you are writing for, whether they are a novice user, beginner user, or an advanced user. You have to understand what kind of audience you are going to write for.
The second thing is being involved in the planning and requirement phase, this is where you understand the requirements, what they are planning to release, and when they want to release it by.
Make sure you break the ice between yourself, the engineers and the people who are working for that product so that you are able to get as much information as you can. One of the most important things is that you have to foresee the feature along with the developer, test it like a tester, and use it as your end customer would. You also have to take care of the expectations of the product manager.
As a technical writer you play multiple roles, aim to work across teams so that you are able to gather as much information as possible, you need to understand:
- Why was it developed?
- What was the feature?
- How was the user going to use it?
- What was the impact of the feature?
Ensure that you go through the reviews and get the approvals at the right time. Along with the demos you have the documentation plugged in so you get the feedback at the right time
Alternative important factors when documenting
We have covered the processes however, Sindhu adds that the audience is the most important factor to consider. We briefly covered this before but it’s too important to miss out on, understanding your audience is key for any documentation. You will have a variety of persona’s that will look at your documentation differently, it’s important to understand how he/she is going to understand the feature and what they will take away from reading the documentation. Aim to show the content at the time the content is meant to be shown.
Sindhu brilliantly points out that not many people want to read pages upon pages of documentation however its when you provide them with that documentation at the right time and in the right format that is the most important part.