Are you planning a technical writing project? As a technical writer or technical writing manager, creating a documentation plan is essential to the success of your next project.
A documentation plan is an overview of the entire project from the perspective of a technical writer. This plan is drafted in the early stages of the project and is incorporated into the overall project plan to ensure that everyone involved is on the same page.
What is included in a documentation plan?
- Overview of the project: What is the product or process? How is it used or executed?
- Purpose of the project: What do you want to accomplish? It is important to understand the overall purpose of the project. If the purpose is not clear, you may stray out of scope, which can cause problems for you and your team in the future.
- Identifying key contacts and subject matter experts (SMEs): While in the planning phase, you should be able to identify the important members on your team. Examples of team members include project managers, graphic designers, marketing managers, technical writers, and SMEs.
- Knowing your audience: Before moving forward with your project, you need to know and understand your audience. The audience includes your end user, stakeholders, and anyone who will use the document. Understanding your audience helps technical writers and content experts with structure, organization, and design.
- Assessing risks and challenges: As you are planning, be aware of any possible risks involved with the project. For instance, technical difficulties, unexpected delays, vacation/holiday schedules, and health-related issues can affect the outcome and quality of the project. Being prepared for the unexpected allows you to resolve potential issues before they become problematic.
- Developing the deliverables: When creating documentation, especially from scratch, knowing your needs and your audience will help you determine the type of document needed. Examples of deliverables include online help, print document, and video tutorials.
- Creating a schedule: When you are creating a timeline for your project, consider each task and how it will fit into the overall project schedule. You and your team members should budget the time allotted for the completion of each task. Tasks may include research, writing, and graphic design.
Following these steps will help you create and deliver effective, high-quality documentation.
If you have questions on planning a technical writing project, or if you would like to learn more, contact us today!