Quality documentation is important for any company. Within the last decade, the manner of preparing and presenting the “offerings” has changed, evolved a lot. I am talking about the content that has strategic implications – the marketing collaterals, at the company-level and the technical documentation, at the product-level.
After carefully reading what I have posted in the last couple of weeks, I have realized that before I move more towards technical writing, I should talk a little on the far-stretched benefits that good documentation could fetch for us. It might sound basic to you; no, it SHOULD, because the very idea is to see how long the list of benefits can be. I will pen-down some that I could think of, on the very basic, broadly categorized level; going forward, you too can add to the list.
Motivated sales force
I have seen companies that utilize the skills of their sales people in an effective manner, and still do not move up the rungs of the ladder of success. Reasons? One: Their people-skills are understated by their documentation. Two: Their documentation did not evolve with time. It is sometimes said that you sell a product only once. But, with documentation, it NEVER is the case. Be it your marketing collaterals or the product-documentation, with each release, you have something new to sell, position. Each new feature needs to be communicated to the end-users in a simple and effective way. And it is this “communication”, which will bring more customers to you. A well-kneaded document will have gone through numerous iterations, and hence, will be error-free, which is enough a reason to bring smiles back on your salesperson. And, what do you have as an outcome? More pitching, more demos, and hence, more sales.
Reduced support cost
No product is complete without the support of the ‘support guys’. And, carefully designed documents hardly leave room for questions. Supportive documentation can lend a helping hand; product guides, per se, can save a considerable amount of time for your support guys, so that your company can track more number of customers on its radar in the same amount of time.
Reduced training cost
Expansion is good for every company. But, with it come loads of training and induction costs. Each new employee takes some time to get into the “flow”. A good training manual can help pave the path for new entrants, so that they can quickly develop that “insiders’ insight” and become contributing members in their teams.
Increased focus on selling
One of the most effective styles of marketing is, no doubt, the aggressive style. And, more aggressive this style becomes if the sales armors and kits contain well-kneaded documents. The past decade has seen more and more people relying on web sites and online marketing collaterals for information on products. More deals today are frozen over the internet than were in the past. And, the results are here to stay.
On operational level, writers do test when they write/document, and, on many occasions come up with suggestions that relate to product improvements, features enhancements, and fixing issues in the product performance. While it is important for a company to have a good team of agile testers, it is equally important that the writers are equally agile in the observation skills. After all, two heads are better than one.
Reduced, nullified company risk
Well-kneaded documents could well save companies from bad days and law suits. Documents help build premises around product features. And, a well-defined feature does not commit more than it needs to. The same goes for company policies as well. A comprehensive marketing plan that boils down to line-level details will list every possible scenario that could become a problem area. Building premises will never avoid the problems and challenges, but it will limit their effect, and give us the way out.
Better brand image
Pose better; use media to the fullest. Marketing collaterals, white papers, web sites, blogs, and product-level documentation, all of it can positively affect your positioning. Remember to count on the ability of words, because each word counts (every word is important)!
Reduced documentation costs (Yes!)
Surprised? I am not. Each content-related effort only reduces the next content-related effort. Training, Sales, Support, and Legal obligations – there are lot of areas where strategizing content has far-stretched effects. Particularly, having content-driven sales and support functions could lend us buy mental spaces for us at much cheaper prices. And, the deal gets only better. Single source publishing does the magic for us. Only the new features need documentation, because the earlier features are already documented. Content everywhere is the same; language and levels of detail occasionally vary.
On a minimized scale, it is observed that to skim far-stretched benefits of content, well-kneaded documentation is, well, needed!