Great products deserve great documentation!
Elon Musk said that "Great companies are built on great products." Now let's take that statement to the next level and say: "Great products deserve great technical documentation”. It’s no secret that in today’s world, technical documentation is no longer a stack of user manuals, installation guides and a few release notes; today’s documentation is well-written and well-maintained and is at the very heart of every successful company’s corporate knowledge base.
Forget the adage that ‘no one ever reads documentation’, and welcome to the brave new world where good documentation means good business. Before we explore four of the most crucial reasons why this is true, let’s understand the sole purpose of technical documentation: to help end-users easily understand and use a product or technology.
Now let’s get to those reasons:
1. Technical documentation is good for marketing and pre-sales
“Marketing materials make everything look good – technical documentation proves that everything is smart!” Technical documentation may not sound like something that would be in your marketing toolkit but well-developed and written documentation, in all its formats – printed, online help, short video clips – is the perfect pre-sales tool. Documentation ensures that potential clients grasp your product offering and moves them one step closer to purchase.
2. Aligning technical documentation and training is good business sense
“Training and documentation share the burden of a positive user experience, it’s time to unite these efforts.” At its most basic level, training and documentation share the greatest burden: providing and maintaining a positive user experience. Training programs provide the lion’s share of user onboarding and continuing education, while documentation provides ‘just-in-time’ information in the form of ‘how tos’, trouble shooting and the like. Uniting these two forces into a single knowledge base, lowers overall corporate development and maintenance costs, while ensuring that company-wide guidelines and updates are uniformly and effectively implemented.
3. Technical documentation is good for post-sales and end-users
“Technical documentation will always be cheaper than costly post-sales support” It’s no secret that nothing costs more that costly post-sales support – until you lose a client. Happy clients don’t leave – clients who feel abandoned and unsupported do. The key to satisfied clients is a knowledge base designed for optimal user experience, with at-your-fingertips, just-in-time topics and context-sensitive technical documentation. What’s more, one of the most significant outcomes of well-written documentation, that can be easily measured and monitored, is lower support calls and therefore lower support costs.
4. Technical documentation translates directly into customer satisfaction
“It seems you CAN buy customer happiness and the cost is well-written technical documentation” The technical documentation process and its associated investment includes:
♦Hire professional technical writers
♦Invest the time, effort and budget in developing a strong technical documentation architecture
♦Plan and schedule your documentation activities as your would any other company product
♦Investigate and invest in authoring/publishing tools that will enable you to expand your knowledge base as you grow your products and services
♦Create channels of open communication and actionable procedures between all shareholders: writers, developers, subject matter experts (SMEs) and anyone else involved in the user experience space.
Product development never stops – your documentation shouldn’t either.
The bottom line
It's time to evaluate an investment in technical documentation as an investment in user satisfaction and the overall success of the company. Bottom line: in today’s brave new world EVERYONE reads the documentation!
About the author: Yochi Eisner is Manager of ExperTeam's Technical Documentation department and has over twenty years of proven experience in the technical documentation and communication fields and has written and lectured extensively on business-related communication issues. Click here to learn more about how ExperTeam’s technical documentation services can help you company.