How To Write Documentation - Hire Somebody

Posted by Jonathan DeVore

iStock_000016359001XSmall-300x199Documentation goes by many names:

  • Training materials
  • Job aids
  • User guides
  • How-to manuals
  • Checklists
  • Standard operating procedures (SOPs)

And a few more. But to make things easier for me, I just call it documentation.

And it's clear to me that organizations and teams no longer need to be convinced that having better documentation is important - that debate (if it ever existed) is over.

Right now, the problem many organizations and teams face is creating documentation, and then maintaining it once it's written.

When I speak to teams who successfully manage internal and customer facing documentation, there is one common thread among all of them - a job title.

Somebody's job title includes, or alludes to, documentation. Or better yet, an entire team exists solely for the purpose of creating documentation. When everybody is responsible for writing documentation, it seldome gets done and/or the results are less than ideal.

If you want documentation to be complete, consistent, and up to date, you probably need to hire somebody whose job is almost purely to document. Some have hired a technical writer, while others have hired contractors from the Philippines - I've seen both work.

A technical writer may require less assistance to get started and stay motivated. A contractor from a foreign country will cost less but may need you to initially do some of the heavy lifting (e.g. record your screen as you perform tasks so they can go back and take screenshots of the steps, review their work with more scrutiny, etc.).

Not all documentation is the same - remember, just having it isn't going to solve your problems no more than having healthy food in your cupboards will make you healthier. If your documentation isn't being used by others, then it's worthless. But I've written other blog posts about that, so I'll give it a rest. 

It seems that sometimes I've jumped the gun, and focused on the tools, the methodology, and the use cases - but unless you or somebody on your team is actually writing documentation, those are moot points. Whether you use ScreenSteps, Clarify, WalkMe, Robohelp, or some other training software/documentation software - it doesn't matter because nobody is creating documentation.

So, if you're serious about writing documentation for onboarding new users or supporting your current staff, schedule a meeting with your boss to discuss hiring some help. This is not a sales pitch for me - I don't even offer that service. This is simply advice for you if you've been meaning to create documentation, but haven't found the time, the energy, or the motivation.

Hire somebody to do it for you.

Topics: Salesforce documentation tips