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Two People Reading Documentation Services Offered

In order to read something, it must be translated into a language that the reader knows and understands. However, in many cases, this is not possible because analysts estimate that 80 percent of business content is unstructured or unmanaged, which makes the content itself difficult to understand. Similarly, there is documented content that may be well-structured, but was written in a way that is not easily readable. Documentation services refer to reproducing material such as documentation lists, reprographic services, translation services, union catalogs, and reference services so that readers can more easily understand the material.

What are the 4 Types of Documentation?

Four common types of documentation services can be provided:

1. Technical Documentation Services

Technical documentation services provide comprehensive information about technical products, systems, or processes. They often include user manuals, API documentation, technical specifications, and troubleshooting guides.

2. User Documentation Services

User documentation focuses on guiding users on how to use a product or service effectively. They often include user guides, instruction manuals, tutorials, and onboarding materials.

3. Business Documentation Services

Business documentation encompasses various documents used in a business context, such as business plans, memos, reports, policies, and procedures.

4. Regulatory Documentation Services

Regulatory documentation is essential for industries with compliance requirements. They include documentation that shows that your company meets all legal and regulatory standards, such as safety manuals, environmental reports, and industry certifications.

Each type of documentation serves a specific purpose, providing valuable information and support to various stakeholders, users, and employees in different settings.

What is the Purpose of Documentation Services?

Documentation services are all about making information more accessible to readers. This can involve simply making printed material more easily available to a larger audience by reproducing it electronically, or by optimizing the way that the electronic reproduction is made. Therefore, for documentation services, reproduction is the name of the game.

a computer on a desk, representing the importance of documentation services

What are the 3 Rules of Documentation?

By following these rules, documentation becomes a valuable resource that enhances usability, minimizes misunderstandings, and improves overall communication with users, customers, and team members. The three fundamental rules of documentation are:

1. Accuracy

Ensure that the information presented in the documentation is correct, reliable, and up-to-date. Inaccurate information can lead to confusion, errors, and potential safety hazards.

2. Clarity

Make the documentation clear and understandable for the intended audience. Use simple language, organized structures, and visual aids when necessary to enhance comprehension.

3. Completeness

Ensure that the documentation covers all relevant information regarding the subject matter. Avoid leaving out crucial details that users or stakeholders might need to effectively use or understand the product, service, or process.

What Kinds of Documents Require Documentation Services?

So, now that we know the role and different rules of documentation services, we can look into what type of documents require adaptations in readability.

Although documentation services, in general, refer to documenting any recordable information, there are technical documents that more often require technical documentation services. Technical documentation services refer to the process of creating, managing, and delivering documentation related to technical processes, services, or products. This documentation aims to provide comprehensive information to users, stakeholders, and developers about how a product works, how it should be used, and how it can be maintained and supported.

Common types of technical documents include:

  • Product Manuals: comprehensive written guides that provide instructions and information on how to use, install, and maintain a product effectively

  • Repair Manuals: detailed guides that provide thorough instructions for diagnosing, troubleshooting, and fixing issues or faults in a product or system

  • User Guides: concise and user-friendly documents that offer clear instructions and explanations to help users effectively and efficiently utilize a product or service

  • Project Plans: all-inclusive documents outlining the objectives, scope, tasks, timelines, resources, and milestones necessary to successfully execute and complete a project

  • Business Standards: established norms and guidelines that define the acceptable practices, protocols, and conduct for an organization to ensure quality, consistency, and ethical behavior in its everyday operations

  • Test Schedules: highly detailed plans that outline the sequencing, timing, and duration of testing activities to be performed during a project or software development cycle

  • Market Requirements Documentation: a broad record outlining specific features, needs, and functionalities of a product or service as gathered from the target market and potential customers

  • White Papers: informative and authoritative documents that present a problem, propose a solution, and provide in-depth insights into a particular topic, often used to educate and influence readers in business or technical contexts

  • Case Studies: in-depth examinations of specific real-life situations, projects, or experiences, typically used to analyze outcomes, provide insights, and draw lessons for similar scenarios

  • RFPs (Requests for Proposals) & Proposals: RFPs are formal documents issued by organizations to invite potential vendors or contractors to submit detailed offers outlining their qualifications, solutions, and pricing for a specific project or service requirement. Proposals are the responses submitted by vendors or contractors, presenting their solutions, capabilities, and terms to meet the requirements outlined in the RFP.

These documents are then turned into on-demand forms such as:

  • Microfilm: a technology used for compactly storing documents or images in reduced size on a roll of film, enabling long-term archival and easy retrieval

  • Microcard: a format of microform, which is a technology used for compactly storing documents or images on small cards, typically for archival or information distribution purposes

  • Microfiche: a type of microform that stores reduced-size images of documents on a flat sheet of film, providing a space-efficient and durable method for long-term document preservation and retrieval

  • Microprints: extremely small and intricate patterns or texts that are typically incorporated into documents or objects as a security feature to prevent counterfeiting or unauthorized duplication

  • Translation Services: involve the professional conversion of written or spoken content from one language to another, ensuring accurate communication and cultural adaptation

  • Ad Hoc Bibliographies: a list of cited sources or references compiled on an as-needed basis for a specific project, presentation, or research task, without following a formal citation style

  • Union Catalog Services: centralized databases or systems that consolidate the bibliographic records and holdings of multiple libraries or institutions, allowing users to search and access a wide range of resources from a single platform

  • Reference Services: assistance provided to users seeking help in finding, accessing, and understanding resources and information to meet their specific information needs

Now that we have a better understanding of the start and end of documentation services, we can ask the question of who exactly is responsible for turning the technical documents into the new reader-friendly formats.

The Importance of Legal Documentation Services:

Law firms have hundreds of thousands of files to manage including forms, letters, emails, pleadings, discovery materials, etc. Therefore, individual law firms have their document management systems that control how documents are retrieved, organized, and made safe. In a legal setting, these documentation services are extremely important because they ensure not only that those authorized to access the material can more quickly look through all the important documents, but also protect the documents from being accessed by anyone who is not authorized to do so.

Documentation services can help scan all documents under the same topic so that lawyers save time and are less likely to make mistakes when helping their clients. Also, the documentation services often utilize a cloud system for storing data which enables records to be stored with much less storage space, saving law firms, which have heaps of documentation, significant sums of money. Consequently, the documentation services that a legal firm would likely utilize include:

  1. Centralized repository

  2. Imaging and image conversion tools

  3. OCR and OWR

  4. Manual and auto-coding

  5. Database creation and indexing

Who Ensures Accessibility to Documentation Services?

External parties exist to optimize document infrastructure and organization in printed and electronic documents. Managed document services are the type of services provided by external parties. Sometimes, managed print services refer exclusively to the organization and workflow of printed documents in their utilization. However, managed document services is an all-encompassing term relating to both print and electronic documents. Originally, external companies often focused more heavily on managing print documents in a more user-friendly manner, however, as more documentation is online, these companies have shifted their focus into optimizing files that already exist electronically.

Additionally, companies like Essential Data Corporation offer documentation services which connect companies with technical writing professionals, streamlining documentation development and optimization.

What are API Documentation Services?

Technical writer for API documentaion

Application Program Interface (API) documentation refers to documentation services that make API software easily understandable to those who seek to implement API technology. APIs enable two separate software applications to communicate with one another, and API documentation provides instructions on how to utilize this ability effectively. The documentation also informs readers of the lifecycle of the API and details what external parties may need to do with the information they have once it is published. Thus, API documentation takes a complicated system of synergistic software communication and makes it readable and usable. After completion, it is then easy to perform Swagger API testing and start Swagger Editor.

Since API programs bridge multiple forms of software, documentation services must make the software combination understandable to the average user. Some of the top API documentation tools include:

  1. ReDoc.Ly

  2. SwaggerHUB

  3. Stoplight

  4. ReadMe

  5. Postman

  6. LucyBot DocGen

  7. DapperDox

  8. WidderShins

  9. OpenAPI Viewer

  10. RapidDoc

At a basic level, documentation services may be easy to understand; they simply make records more readable. However, one can more easily understand the value of documentation services upon the introduction of synergistic software systems, such as API, and when documentation services are broken down into the organizations that they serve. Thus, it is important that as technology rapidly advances, and electronic software is responsible for controlling records, documents continue to be made readable for human audiences.

Managed and Unmanaged Documentation Services

It is important to know the main differences between managed and unmanaged documentation services, as these can have significant repercussions for your business or project. They differ in terms of the level of control, organization, and oversight applied to the documentation process. Listed below are the key differences between these two types of documentation services:

  1. Control and Oversight:
    Managed Documentation Services: In managed documentation services, there is a centralized and structured approach to the documentation process. A dedicated team or service provider takes responsibility for creating, maintaining, and updating the documentation. This often involves adhering to specific documentation standards and guidelines.
    Unmanaged Documentation Services: In unmanaged documentation services, there is a more decentralized and ad-hoc approach to documentation. Individual teams or authors may create documentation as needed, without centralized control or standardization.
  2. Organization and Consistency:
    Managed Documentation Services: Managed services strive for consistency and standardization in documentation. Templates, styles, and formats are often predefined to maintain a uniform look and feel across different documents.
    Unmanaged Documentation Services: Unmanaged services may lack consistency, resulting in documentation that varies in style, format, and quality across different projects or teams.
  3. Quality and Review:
    Managed Documentation Services: Managed services typically incorporate quality control and review processes. Documentation is thoroughly reviewed by subject matter experts, editors, and other stakeholders to ensure accuracy and clarity.
    Unmanaged Documentation Services: Unmanaged services may not have a formal review process, which can lead to potential errors, inconsistencies, or omissions in the documentation.
  4. Scalability and Maintenance:
    Managed Documentation Services: Managed services are often better suited for large-scale projects or organizations with ongoing documentation needs. They can efficiently handle documentation for multiple products or services and ensure documentation stays updated with ease.
    Unmanaged Documentation Services: Unmanaged services may work well for smaller projects or organizations with limited documentation requirements. However, they may struggle to scale effectively as a business’s documentation needs grow.
  5. Expertise and Specialization:
    Managed Documentation Services: Managed services are more likely to have specialized documentation experts, technical writers, and editors, bringing a higher level of expertise to the documentation process.
    Unmanaged Documentation Services: Unmanaged services may rely on individuals who may not have professional writing or documentation skills, which can result in documentation that is less polished or effective.

In summary, managed documentation services provide a more controlled, structured, and consistent approach to documentation, ensuring high-quality and well-maintained documentation. On the other hand, unmanaged documentation services may be more flexible but can result in inconsistent and potentially less reliable documentation. The choice between the two depends on the specific needs, resources, and scale of the organization or project.

Documentation Services with EDC

If you are looking for more expertise in software documentation, always know Essential Data Corporation is here to help. When the need arises, our professional technical writers can help take on any of your business needs for your business to succeed.

Whether you need a single technical writer for a brief project or a team of consultants to produce a complete line of documentation, the quality of our work is guaranteed for you. Our clients work closely with an Engagement Manager from one of our 30 local offices for the entire length of your project at no additional cost. Contact us at (800) 221-0093 or to get started.

Written by Samantha Galvin