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Explaining Documentation Strategy

Explaining Documentation Strategy

Documentation strategy is an integral component of the broader business strategy.

To execute a business strategy effectively, documentation support is essential.

Strategic documents play a pivotal role in describing HR, sales, and marketing strategies.

In essence, a business strategy relies on a vast knowledge base, often referred to as a documentation base.

Neglecting to establish a clear documentation policy can lead to ambiguity for both customers and stakeholders.

Defining Documentation Strategy

Documentation strategy encapsulates your vision of how your company's knowledge base or information repository should be structured and its intended purpose.

The prevailing notion across many organizations is that documentation should serve two primary functions:

  1. In-House Users: Documents should be designed for internal use, aiding employees in their daily tasks, problem-solving, and routine operations.

  2. Customers: Documents should facilitate customer access to products and services, enabling efficient utilization.

A Good Documentation Strategy

The rationale behind a robust documentation strategy is straightforward. It aims to maximize the utility of both internal and external documents.

It enhances communication with customers and fosters collaboration with business partners by providing clear and comprehensive information for each product, project, or step.

A well-structured strategy optimizes internal resource utilization, transforming documentation into a valuable asset capable of contributing to your company's profits.

Without such a strategy, documentation may remain unused or undiscovered, becoming a 'terra incognita' awaiting exploration.

Surprisingly, many employees, including top managers, often remain unaware of existing documents and revisions, leading to conflicts, confusion, and downtime.

Documentation strategy typically encompasses knowledge base management, product documentation, standard operating procedures (SOPs), and service-related processes.

Standing Operating Procedures

Among these, SOPs play a prominent role as they permeate the company's structure and processes.

In practice, SOPs encompass various forms of documentation, regulating specific processes.

For instance, in a production facility, an SOP might detail the mothballing procedure, including steps to deactivate equipment, remove oxygen, and fill it with nitrogen.

Conversely, simpler SOPs might address occupational health and safety, explaining safe PC usage, recommended breaks for eye strain prevention, and more.

Internally, SOPs and process guides aid employees in understanding and executing tasks efficiently.

Externally, customer-focused documentation assists users in comprehending product usage and service delivery, fostering transparency, loyalty, and trust.

Key Elements of a Documentation Strategy

The content of a documentation strategy can vary but typically revolves around the following key areas:

  1. Operating Model and Processes
  2. Stakeholders Inside and Outside the Company
  3. Project Plans
  4. Risk Management Plans
  5. Communication Plans

Each of these areas should be supported by high-quality documentation aligning with the overall business strategy.

For instance, in a Software as a Service (SaaS) company, the emphasis lies on product documentation, as the software product is the primary offering.

Features are meticulously detailed, not only in technical documentation but also through blogs, articles, and social media.

This approach attracts customers and promotes loyalty by providing comprehensive explanations.

Efficiency Evaluation in Documentation Strategy

A documentation strategy must include tools to assess its effectiveness.

Monitoring and measuring key performance indicators (KPIs) is essential to determine whether the strategy achieves its goals. KPIs can include feedback data analytics, such as customer support tickets, requests, bounce rates, and user engagement metrics.

The top management plays a crucial role in reviewing and discussing KPIs during general meetings, sharing minutes of meetings with stakeholders.

Creating an Effective Documentation Strategy

When developing a documentation strategy, consider the following checklist:

  1. Alignment with Business Goals: Ensure that your documentation strategy supports current projects and aligns with the company's business priorities.

  2. Document Inventory: Identify documents that need creation or updating.

  3. KPIs: Define KPIs to gauge the strategy's effectiveness.

  4. Communication Plan: Develop a plan to share strategy results internally and externally.

Implementing the strategy necessitates certain measures, including:

  1. HR Policy: Hiring technical writers and copywriters, technical writing managers, and knowledge managers.

  2. Documentation Management Policy: Providing authoring and publishing tools, ensuring content uniformity, and enabling content reuse.

Main Documentation Strategies

Documentation strategies can be categorized based on the company's document management approach:

  1. Firefighter Approach: Documents are created reactively to address specific problems as they arise.

  2. In-Depth Approach: Detailed documentation that suits specialized in-house users with deep knowledge.

  3. Breadth-First Approach: Covering a wide range of topics, addressing popular areas while being prepared for reactive content creation.

To determine the correctness of your documentation strategy, consider its efficiency. An efficient strategy enhances all business processes, contributing significantly to your company's long-term development.

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