A thick stack of binders full of paper.

Tech Writers: Simplifying Complex Topics (Explained)

In an increasingly rapid and ever-evolving business environment, tech writers are an immensely valuable resource. They know how to explain products, processes, and services in clear and precise language, allowing them to reach multiple target audiences. By translating complicated ideas into easily readable material, their work ultimately helps businesses cut costs, improve efficiency and increase customer satisfaction.

How do tech writers communicate complex technical information in simple terms? By leveraging a wide range of knowledge, skills, and expertise to develop streamlined writing and research processes. Once a tech writer dives into a topic, it’s only a matter of time until they know how to explain it clearly.

What Do Tech Writers Do For Businesses?

As businesses grow, it is essential to document processes. A process document acts as a roadmap for your business. Whether you create new processes or want to improve existing processes, process documentation acts as a best practice guide for how to build and execute them. 

All the information about how your company runs is critical for daily operations and future growth. The importance of documenting business processes cannot be overstated. Optimizing business processes will help you avoid mistakes and delays, and improve cost-effectiveness, productivity, supplier relationships, and customer satisfaction. 

This is why every business needs technical writers to ensure that all essential data is accurately recorded, stored and available for future use. From company-wide user manuals to specific product documentation, tech writers ensure that their organization can access every necessary bit of information at any time.

In competitive industries, successful businesses hire professional technical writers to do this job. An enticing shortcut is to enlist developers, engineers, and managers to do technical writing. But those are roles where success is defined by building a great product, not explaining or describing how it works to streamline the process. 

Technical writers don’t need to be on a product team to understand how the product works on a deep technical level. In fact, because they are on the outside, they can best understand how various types of users will eventually interact with the product. That’s their basis for creating expert documentation.

Why Technical Writers Are Fast Learners

Professional technical writers are also perfect for documentation because they start projects with a broad knowledge base. They are usually educated in a STEM field, whether that’s science, technology, engineering, math, or a combination of them. Depending on their experience, tech writers will also understand medicine, computer science, and other tech-based fields.

What makes tech writers unique is that they are both generalists and specialists. They are not usually subject matter experts (SMEs), but fast and flexible researchers who enjoy exploring the highly specialized technical aspects of any topic.

Many topics that tech writers need to understand are extremely complex. One project might be about pharmaceutical instructions for a new drug, which requires them to know FDA regulations. Another could involve ISO certification documentation for internationally shipped goods. There is no limit to a tech writer’s domain.

Whatever situation a tech writer finds themself in, they’ll focus on learning relevant material quickly. Throughout their research process, they’ll be thinking about which information to include and which to omit. When your job is to simplify instructions and develop clear guidelines for multiple audiences, you must be selective about how you spend your time. 

Tech Writers Are Actually Great Collaborators

When a tech writer begins a project, they meet with all the company’s teams and relevant departments. By listening to SMEs and asking pointed questions, they collect all the information they need to understand their task. Tech writers are sometimes thought of as siloed workers, when in actuality they are strong collaborators and team players.

It’s easy for tech writers to join these conversations when they’ve been keeping up with industry trends. Great tech writers are also serious readers. They keep up with the news, scan all the trade blogs, and listen to both popular and niche podcasts. A tech writer should have their pulse on the latest reports, statistics, and ideas being discussed in leading business and technology publications. 

When tech writers join a new organization, they know all the industry developments and know how to speak the language. Tech writers tend to enjoy the opportunity to collaborate with SMEs and other organization experts. Already familiar with the subject, they focus on learning the specific technical details they’ll need to produce expert documentation.

How Tech Writers Excel at Information Management

Unsurprisingly, working cross-functionally allows tech writers to become adept at developing highly efficient techniques for their work process. One of these is “single sourcing,” where the writer reuses sources on documentation projects. Experienced tech writers keep databases of collected information that help them in the research stage.

Tech writers spend roughly 80% of their time researching, whether that involves reading or interviewing. But all along they take notes about the specific needs of their audience so that when they are ready to write their document, they have a variety of options. 

For instance, a skilled tech writer can take the same technical information about an API and break it into three documents: one for end-users, one for tech professionals, and one for business leaders. This is a complicated task, because “clear and simple” language means different things to different groups. But tech writers are experts at accumulated knowledge, so they are efficient workers.

Why Technical Information Needs to be Simplified

The global economy has produced an astronomical amount of digital information, and it shows no signs of slowing down. By 2025, the worldwide volume of data is predicted to be 181 zettabytes. That’s tons of information that someone needs to document. 

The tech industry is primarily responsible for this massive trail of digital records. Over the decades, technology has disrupted supply chains and radically altered industries from aerospace to finance, energy, and IT. As technology has rewritten the rules of business, the roles and responsibilities of technical writers have changed too.

It’s no longer good enough for a tech writer to know a few common formats for instructional manuals. Instead, they must be able to document complex processes for highly specialized and varied audiences. This might involve writing reports and briefs as well as user guides and SOPs. 

These projects demand expertise as well as a quick turnaround, sometimes within the hour. If a business has a tech writer in-house or employs one as a consultant, they can call on that writer to do the job. These tasks add up and will be leveraged by shrewd companies to increase profit margins. 

Tech Writer Case Study: Standard Operating Procedures

Hiring a tech writer not only saves time and reduces cost, but it also frees key design team members to do the task they were hired for, like product development.

For example, this case study details a project in which Essential Data’s technical writers developed detailed Standard Operating Procedures for seven unique manufacturing machines at an aerospace manufacturing company.

The SOPs were developed into a training manual for new hires and allowed the company’s clients to cross-train existing employees, who worked on both new and different machines.

This was a groundbreaking level of documentation with real business results. The manufacturing company trained their new hires 50% more quickly, reducing the training period to three months. 

Tech Writers Produce Real Business Results

The more experienced and diverse the tech writer, the better they can serve their organization, streamlining business operations, increasing efficiency, and contributing to the bottom line. It all stems from their communicative ability to translate technical industry jargon into readable material.

In business, it’s often best to let specialists perform the tasks at which they excel. Tech writers should do the technical writing, just as software engineers should design the products. Computer programmers should then build the products, and product managers should keep everything moving along. 

If there is clarity around this process, then the result will be a customer, client, or fellow employee who knows how to use and work with their tools. Rest assured that your essential data is not just documented, but clear, accurate, and useful.

How Essential Data Corporation Can Help You

Whether you need a single technical writer for a brief project or a team of consultants to produce a complete line of documentation, Essential Data provides the highest quality of technical writing services in every industry. Throughout your entire project, you will work closely with an Engagement Manager from one of our 30 local offices at no additional cost, and the quality of our work is guaranteed. To get started, contact us, schedule a free consultation, call 800-221-0093, or email sales@edc.us – whatever is easiest for you. 

Updated September 8, 2022


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