23 Jul Is Poor Documentation Costing Your Company?
While most folks cringe at the very mention of the word “documentation” management realizes that it is a necessary evil in today’s world. Even with this knowledge, documentation is still a major sticking point for most companies. Why is that? Is it because there is really no method to measure its effectiveness? Is it because it’s hard to place real value on something you know will sit on someone’s bookshelf and collect dust? Keep these in mind as we go forward.
You’d be hard-pressed to find someone that has purchased a product only to find that the accompanying “manual/instructions” are entirely worthless. We’ve all been there. Doesn’t this company care that I can’t use their product because of sub-par documentation? Don’t they care that I will be inconvenienced by having to research the product “they” just sold me? That’s the exact feeling I get and I’m convinced that folks reading this post feel the same way too. It’s not a good feeling and it certainly goes a long way in my decision to buy from them again!
In the academic world, rubrics are a common form of defining expectations, providing a means for real-time feedback, and measuring the quality of written papers. There is a place in the corporate world to implement something similar.
A Breakdown of Technical Documentation
In its purest form, technical documentation needs to answer the following questions.
- Who is the end-user (audience)?
- What is the purpose?
Identifying the audience and purpose is only the first step. The designer will set up metrics to evaluate the effectiveness of the documentation. To successfully measure our work the following questions must be answered.
- Is the documentation needed?
- Can it be visually appealing?
- Will it be logically broken-down and organized?
- Is the user able to quickly find answers to their issues?
- Has the documentation had an impact on the product or service orders?
- Has the documentation had an impact on the number of calls coming into your customer service department?
This is just the tip of the iceberg! Hunter McKenzie L.P. knows what your customers want. Our expertise in this arena affords us the ability to work how you think.
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Jesse Spencer-DavenportPosted at 11:18h, 11 March
Mark, so true! Documentation is so critical but often overlooked and sub-par at best. I’m constantly amazed at the quality of documentation in leading software applications. The worst is out of date documentation. I think the unspoken understanding is that blogs and forums will pick up the slack. Inexcusable!
Mark S.Posted at 21:51h, 18 August
Glad you liked Jesse..and I agree! Having someone else pick up your slack is simply inexcusable and lazy, to be frank!