I can’t possibly wear a mask and tell my students and trainees that “all’s well”. I run a business and even if it means that I should ignore certain things to get more revenue for business my instincts forbade me. One of the things that I try to acknowledge and showcase them is “tools are important but your writing skills are even more important in technical writing.” Some of them do not like when I am blunt. A few do not even call back to register for the technical writing program even when they had initially signed up for it. But I feel it is important that as technical writers we should ensure that writing addresses and becomes the the backbone of a good structured program.
When we conduct a program on technical writing, I focus and spent a great deal of time on the basics. Generally, I ask my trainees to write a paragraph or two on a technical topic. This initial exercises without their knowledge provides me insights into their research and writing skills. I always believed in the philosophy that technical writing is spending 60 percent in requirement gathering and the rest 40 percent in putting the information in a document. The other key aspect in documentation is requirement gathering.
- Understand the product or application to be developed
- Gain an understanding of the domain or subject matter
- Understand client requirements for documentation
- Study legacy documentation and writing style guides used by the client
- Provide content consulting or evangelism
- Propose documentation deliverable and tools to be used
- Prepare effort estimate
- Propose team size and composition
Requirement gathering is a key:
- If the requirements are incorrectly, inaccurately or incompletely specified there is little chance the solution will be what is needed.
- Requirements are the basis on which potential solutions are assessed.
- Requirements identify what is needed. They are not the solution, rather they provide definition of what the solution needs to address.
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