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A Path for Non-Technical Writers in Creating Effective Documentation Amidst Challenges

I’d like to talk about the challenges that non-technical writers face when they’re tasked with creating documentation. As a continuous improvement consultant, I’ve observed that many of my clients love the results of lean and continuous improvement, but they find documentation a chore. Sometimes, they’ve never worked with documentation and don’t know where to begin. It requires learning a new skill set. Time constraints are another hurdle. If a team is working on a project with a tight deadline, they may not want to tackle documentation when they’re focused on deliverables. Buy-in can also be an issue. It’s challenging to get stakeholders to sign off on documentation if they don’t understand the value it brings.

I’ve come up with four tips to overcome these challenges:

  1. Eliminate the Need: If a product or service is unnecessary or rarely used, there’s no point in documenting it. By removing waste, you can reduce the amount of documentation you need to create.

  2. Show, Don’t Tell: Instead of writing lengthy instructions, consider using visuals, videos, or interactive demos. This approach is more engaging and easier to understand.

  3. Target Value: Prioritize the documentation that offers the highest value to users. By focusing on the interactions that have the most impact, you can ensure that your documentation is relevant and effective.

  4. Make It Normal or Not at All: If documentation is not an integral part of your team’s workflow, it’s likely to become outdated quickly. Involve everyone in the documentation process, encourage regular updates, and use visual management tools to keep docs accessible and relevant.

Remember, the goal is to create documentation that is used and valued by your team and your customers.

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