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The Cost of Process Documentation

I wonder how many technical writers like me receive calls from agencies trying to source a content writer? It is not uncommon. Many writing jobs these days appear under the banner of ‘Content Writer’. If you want to choose the right writer, read on.

One day, I had to explain the difference between our two titles. A comparison of my technical authoring skill-set to that of a content writer.

If you were asked, or you were seeking a writer—do you know the difference? If you get it wrong it will be a costly mistake.

So, what do you know about the following job titles?
      • Technical writer
      • Documentation manager
      • Content Writer
      • Content strategist
      • Content manager
      • Information governance

Technical Writer

Firstly, we have the widest skill-set. We take complex information and make it accessible to people who may need to accomplish a task or goal. We need to understand what can be a complicated process and write detailed instructions, including process diagrams (PCI, ISO, ITIL, GDPR). Before starting a large project, I would ask if they have a strategy that identifies the important documents, the MUST haves. If not, I will create one with a timeline that identifies the production of critical documentation using MoSCoW. Process authors write:
      • Policies
      • Processes
      • Work Instructions
      • Standards
      • How to guide?
In addition, we have document management skills working with an application such as SharePoint to manage and control the documentation. . In the software industry, you could write a wide range of documents such as:
      • user guides,
      • detailed design specs,
      • requirement docs,
      • white papers, and
      • manage a back catalogue of previous documents.

Technical Author’s Skill-set

      • Communication skills to write and communicate the narrative around the document
      • focussed on detail – without it, the user could make mistakes, worse throw the document away as useless
      • create a consistent process everyone can follow
      • teamwork – impossible to create documents without SMEs
      • technical skills to understand the terminology
      • writing skills go without saying
      • document management,

Document Controller / manager

This role aligns with technical authors; the duties of this role will depend on the industry type.  A document manager is responsible for control, security, accessibility, and review of organisational documents used by employees, such as policies, procedures, guidelines, forms, templates, and training materials.

Content Writer and Manager

The aim of Content writing is to produce engaging content for Web material and later, with experience, manage the pages and ensure content connects with their audience. They’re also responsible for setting the overall tone of the website. Content writers accomplish these tasks by researching and deciding what information to include or exclude from the site. If you read up on various sites regarding the skill-set, there are many variations and opinions. These are the most commonly mentioned:
      • Writing skills
      • Focus
      • Originality
      • Research
      • Customer knowledge
      • SEO and
      • Editorial skills

Content Strategist

The job is to create engaging content that resonates with customers and draws. The writer may have significant experience with the subject matter and business.

Information governance (IG)

IG is a strategy to manage information to maintain compliance requirements and operational transparency. To work correctly, any organisation must establish a consistent and logical framework for employees to distribute content through their information governance policies and procedures. IG lends itself to information security, storage, knowledge management and business operations and the management of data.

The differences. . .

Technical writers and content writers do have common goals. such as strong writing skills, editorial and research skills. However, what the roles create in terms of content are different. Technical writing requires more specific knowledge. The clue is in the title; we produce technical content.

    • Technical writing must be objective and precise with no personal opinions.
    • Content writing can contain an author’s opinion, figures of style, and so on.
    • Finally, technical writers use a wide range of tools for writing, while Google Docs may be enough for content writing.
To get the job done, choose the right writer for your project.

Required Skills for Technical authors

The required skills for technical authors will, I guarantee, provide many suggestions. As a profession, we are flexible, adaptable, and resourceful. We can achieve far more than people expect with our multiple job-related skills. Be in no doubt our aim is to help and advise and manage your growing techdocs library efficiently.

The required skills for technical authors

However, as a technical author, I have my take on the required skills
1. keep a sense of humour
2. don’t allow SMEs to talk over your head
3. stay flexible
4. be courteous even in the face of rudeness
5. be a diplomat  .  .  . even in the face of ingratitude,
6. always laugh at the project managers’ poor jokes
7. never allow techies to convince you that your job is less important than their ego
8. always allow techies, PMs and developers to think they are more important than you . . . because you know better!
9. Smile, your colleagues will wonder what you’re up to
10. Do not be tempted by the dark side. Stay with the force as the pen is mightier.
11. never offer excuses why the document is late, be honest . . .
if you feel that all the above are unachievable, then quit the day job and find a new career.

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