Role of Technical Documentation in Software Development
Today we are going to talk about how technical writing influences software development. And, why technical writers are, actually, inseparable from a product life cycle.
User Manuals Help Keep it Together
In general, technical documentation creates the backbone of a software company. It stores vital information on features, use cases, and code examples. So, every new hire goes through technical documentation, and this is how knowledge and experience are passed on in a company.
Software documentation gets referenced daily by all teams. Support, developers, testers, marketing, and sales departments would not be able to function without wholesome software documentation.
User manuals are written for every product version, so, any product changes can be tracked with their help, as well.
Technical Writing and Quality Assurance
To create a technical document, you need to have the product in question at hand. As a user manual should be released along with the new product version, technical writers become one of the first real users of the software as they need to have access to the pre-release version to create help topics on new functionality or update the existing ones.
This means the documentation team “tests” the product and sends bug reports to devs. Of course, technical writers do not have any serious QA tools, but that is good, actually. Their pure ‘end-user’ experience of the product is valuable for fine-tuning the release.
How Tech Writers Add New Features
Our previous section implies constant communication between dev and doc teams about bugs. But these two have even more intersections.
As a rule, most of the feature requests are coming from support/forums. This seems quite natural as this is where most interaction with customers takes place. However, online technical documentation became a game changer here.
Just like technical support, user manuals have always provided case deflection. But, since they went online, technical documentation began to serve as another channel of communication with clients.
For example, ClickHelp has Disqus integration which ultimately allows starting a whole user community around your documentation. Well, maybe, building an entire community sounds a little far-fetched, but, what is real and extremely helpful about Disqus is user feedback.
Through analyzing user comments in online technical documentation, technical writers become involved in feature discussions with developers. This is a common practice to have tech writers attending meetings where developers are talking about future product plans.
With all that said, it is clear that technical writing stretches far beyond creating documentation. Reps of a doc team are actively participating in various meetings that are tied to product development. User manuals provide cost-effective case deflection, and they also store every piece of information about a software product that can be utilized by any company employee.
It is impossible to imagine product development without technical writers. And, in our opinion, this collaboration inside companies will gradually grow with the increasing need for technical knowledge in techcomm specialists. In future, their input can become more solid and this, in its term, will lead to better software products.
Good luck with your technical writing!
Author, host and deliver documentation across platforms and devices
Originally published at clickhelp.com.