In today’s time, technical writing has gained the reputation of being a field where you get to work with interesting projects. As a technical writer, you will require to work with different types of documentation like employee handbooks, instructional guides, user manuals, standard operating procedures and more. The prime duty of technical writers is simplifying the technical information language. So, you may have to work with scientists, engineers, software developers and computer specialists.

However, when creating content on a technical subject, a few common challenges arise. Then, again there is no success without challenges. You will need every ounce of tolerance and resilience that you possess to overcome the challenges so you may get the job done.

Why not look at the common challenges and find out ways on how you may avoid it?

  1. Last-minute changes to the product

How many times have you completed a documentation, and just when you are about to send it for publication, the development team asks you to add new features? Well, products are ever-evolving and you actually cannot help it. So, what can you do?

SOLUTION: Always leave some extra time to get enough time to incorporate any new changes in technical writing. This way, changes will not come as a shock to you. Always prepare your mind for last-minute changes. Another tip is to work closely with the engineering team from the beginning. This way, last-minute changes are less likely to come as a surprise.

  1. Collecting information from subject matter experts

Collecting and gathering information from subject matter experts is a big part of a technical writer’s job. You will have to conduct interviews, review content and publish the thoughts of valuable coworkers. Subject matter experts tend to be very busy, and thus they do not always have the time to get back to you when you inquire about their documentation input. It will be wrong to ask them for contributions at the last moment and then expect a quality contribution.

SOLUTION: Try to network with SMEs outside of work. You can randomly stop by their desk for a quick chat and learn about what their job entails. And then, when the time comes when you need to ask for their input, you can put in the background work that is required to solicit a contribution successfully.

  1. Inconsistency in the document
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Technical writing needs to be coherent and clear. Unfortunately, this does not happen if a certain document has been haphazardly updated, or written over a time by several authors. The document must be consistent in terms of layout, style, tone, etc. For example, addressing “you” in one part of the document and then putting “they” in another part leads to confusion among the readers.

SOLUTION: While making changes to the document, make sure to make sense of the surrounding context, which includes aspects like tense and tone. By incorporating changes seamlessly, you are able to make more sense through the document for readers. Do not forget to use a style guide to maintain voice consistency within the documentation. It also offers guidance to multiple authors who might be working together.

  1. Not sufficient information on the production users

When writing effective technical content, you must have a clear idea about who your user is. Collect information like the user’s location, age, job status and more. You must have deep knowledge of the users, without which successful writing documentation will not be possible.

Knowing the users as deeply as possible is a must if you intend to tailor your documentation as per their needs.

SOLUTION: Conduct user interviews to learn more about your customers. You may collaborate with the marketing team to share their personas and use them as a baseline for your technical documentation. If you want clear ideas of the questions users are asking, you need to work closely with customer support.

  1. Outdated or unsuitable tools

Technical writers are often expected to work using out-dated tools that is unsuitable for creating technical documentation. You are required to put together a business case for your manager for investing in the best Help Authoring Tools on the market. You must acquire the best ideas of tools that can help you produce the best quality documentation.

SOLUTION: Before using any tools, research the ones you think you will need for your job. Make sure to fill out the business case for investing in the Help Authoring Tools that will enable you to complete your work more efficiently. Show the amount of time you will save if you have the proper tools at your disposal.

  1. Get people to review your work
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One of the biggest challenges for technical writers is getting people reviewing their work, especially if you tend to be a solo writer on your team. After writing your documentation, if no one reviews it, its flaws will go unnoticed and then pass on to the end user. This will badly reflect on your writing as well as on your organisation.

Documentation must go through a review process to meet a standard for publication.

SOLUTION: The perfect way to overcome the problem is to understand what you want from a review clearly. You can send your write-up to colleagues by giving them enough time to get back to you with their comments. Do not feel obligated to follow up multiple times until you find the quality review you wish for.

  1. Disorganised structure

Technical documents can confuse readers when they are structured illogically and if not planned properly. Amidst the technical language, finding the information can be very difficult. Sections do not usually follow one another.

Thus, logically structuring documents is important if you wish to make sense to your readers.

SOLUTION: Before starting your planning process, take your time to be thoughtful about the overall structure of your document. A simple layout can do wonders. You may ask your colleague to review your document closely to check if it makes sense to them.

WRAPPING UP,

Technical writing is surely an exciting job that may seem challenging at some point. But you need not panic or get surprised once you encounter these obstacles in your role as a technical writer. But knowing the challenges in the profession and the solutions to them can help you stay motivated to overcome them.

AUTHOR BIO: Christiana Brown is a senior document assignment writer at one of the most reputed firms in Australia. She is also associated with Essayassignmenthelp.com.au, where she offers assignment help solutions to students.