A technology start-up without a Technical Writer is similar to a new small business without a marketing plan. The first thought that comes to mind when most people think of a “technical writer” is an IT professional — blogging about the latest trends for a reputable technology website. But, actual technical writers are vital for technology startups.
These skillful writers can turn a dull or complex topic into content that people of all educational backgrounds can understand to complete work-related responsibilities. If you hire an experienced technical writer, it can reduce costs on hiring a team for multiple writing needs.
Let’s review what exactly technical writers do and the benefits of having one on your team.
What Can Technical Writers Do for You?
Technical writers are one of two types of professionals. A) An Enterprise, Full Stack Developer, or Systems Analyst that transitioned into a technical writer. B) A journalism or communications professional that decided to pursue a writing career in technology.
Do you need an operational manual? Hire a technical writer. How about a Disaster Recovery Plan for critical applications? A technical writer can write this with the help of subject matter experts and strategic stakeholder interviews. These are the writing gurus that interview your tech team to produce masterful documentation often used for Information Management and Technology, Business Continuity, or Business Development.
The Benefits of Hiring Technical Writers.
Disaster Recovery Plans Can Save IT Infrastructure, and Lives.
What happens when a critical application is unavailable? IT staff and employees can be confused on immediate steps to take during a natural disaster, human-induced incident, or a malicious IT attack.
A Disaster Recovery Plan (DRP) is a document produced by a technical writer with the help of conversations with subject matter experts. A start-up without a DRP can be faced with public humiliation, financial loss, disappointed customers, and potentially the loss of lives. What is inside of a DRP? A communications plan, information about the backup datacenter, key emergency contacts, Business Continuity information, IT security, and much more.
A classic example of the necessity of a Disaster Recovery Plan is a 2017 massive storm in Houston with water entering the basement of a ConocoPhillips facility that holds critical IT equipment. The help of a Disaster Recovery Plan (DRP) supported the IT team with recovering service from ConocoPhillips backup facility in Bartlesville, Oklahoma.
If ConocoPhillips did not have a Disaster Recovery Plan on site, we can imagine the negative financial and potential public impact that could have occurred.
Tech Experts Prefer Not to Write
Technical experts working in IT rarely have time to write procedures, let alone interview colleagues to produce documentation. It is the reason professional and technical writers are a valuable resource. Most of a writer’s day involves interviewing internal and external stakeholders.
Research and writing documentation for employees, executives, or the general public requires an understanding of target audiences. The process can take a full day of writing, editing, interviewing, speaking with vendors, or visiting datacenters to understand the technical aspect of applications.
Technical Writers Can Help to Reduce Employee Costs
Experienced technical writers can produce communications, marketing, and business writing content. Most have an educational background in journalism, public relations, marketing, and media relations.
As a result, a start-up can reduce the cost of having marketing, PR, or communications employee on site with one technical writer in the building. Imagine the reduction of hiring three to four professionals with a technical writer on site. It is a Startups dream come true.
Contractors and Short-Term Projects
A technical writer can be hired on contract for the duration of a project need. Most professional tech writers are employed through a recruitment agency which reduces the time and financial effort in a human resources team searching for talent.
Imagine hiring a technical writer for three to 12 months with an option of extending the contract if needed. Also, it will cost double the expense of one full-time writer on site than it is to hire a contractor. Furthermore, if a start-up remains in contact with the writer after a contract ends, an option of rehiring the writer at a later date that understands the business can be beneficial to future project needs.
Inspires the Start of Additional Projects
At times a start-up can discover that additional documentation is needed outside of a project in which a technical writer is hired. These writers are hired to complete documentation for applications and requested to complete operational guides. A business or tech writer is often asked to assist with internal business planning while working for organizations.
In a large organization, a marketing team, business development, executives, or human resources can depend on a technical writer for assistance with online and offline content.
Genius IT Ideas are Captured
A business without a technical writer can set itself up for failure. A startup can have brilliant enterprise architects, web analysts, and IT security staff with no documentation on file. The most game-changing ideas, processes, strategies, policies, guidelines, and contractual agreements need to be captured in documents. There are leading organizations that depend on employees to provide essential information based on data stored in an individual’s memory. It is not a good idea in today’s economy if an employee were to resign or a company needs to downsize valuable employees.
Meet IT Auditor Requirements
A mistake that start-ups often make is waiting to develop a compliance component after a business is established rather than in the beginning. The reality is municipal, federal, and government laws in the technology space frequently change.
To prevent an unexpected request from a government agency or the IRS requesting an internal audit with minimal to no existing documentation on file, it is best to hire a technical writer. A technical writer can work with your startup from the beginning to ensure contracts, and other legal documentation is produced in the event an audit request occurs.
HOW TO FIND TECHNICAL WRITERS
Technical writers working on contract or freelancing can be discovered on freelance sites that include FreelanceMyWay, Upwork, Guru, and Work Hoppers. A variety of profiles of technical writers are available to review previous experience. Most companies who hire writers have writing samples and testimonials of other companies that use these sites. Furthermore, some of these sites complete a background check of contractors that include verifying profile photos to confirm identity.
A technical writer can be a valuable resource to a new and existing IT startup. These experts are self-starters, interview employees, work with minimal supervision, and are open to working on a variety of projects. These writers can produce IT disaster recovery plans with instructions to recover critical applications during a natural disaster. These documents provide the contact information of key emergency personnel, a communications plan, and even a diagram of the Disaster Recovery infrastructure.
These professionals are often on call because most work as contractors that work for leading organizations that include Microsoft, Google, Twitter, Government, and municipalities. This level of work experience can be an asset to a start-up with minimal cost in hiring a full-time technical writer.
Also, documentation to ensure unexpected audits can prevent a potential closure of a startup from continuing business with existing documentation that can be updated and used for the entire life of a start-up.
Makeda Waterman is a Technical Writer of 5 years with features on CNBC Make It., and Yahoo Finance News. She has worked for the Government of Alberta and IT tech companies across North America.