Are you trying to manage documentation costs but have doubts about outsourcing technical writing?
aMarketForce surveyed a number of Documentation Managers (DM) to understand their needs and concerns. We asked questions on project management, competence, communication in addition to costs.
The responses were interesting. The survey indicated that between 60% to 70% of DMs were reluctant to outsource their technical documentation work for some or all of the issues listed below:
- The outsourced writer may lack sufficient domain and subject matter understanding
- How do I manage this writer, who is not in my office and not even in my time zone?
- The engineering team tried outsourcing; the outside team was skilled, but there were significant cultural differences. Why will my situation be any different?
These are real issues, and aMarketForce set about addressing each point before coming back with solution that were more than just ‘talk’.
- Domain knowledge: This is a critical issue. Writer selection must be based on proven understanding of the technology with samples to substantiate claims.
- Project management: Communication is vital. If your outsourced writer is not in your time zone or close, you can have potential problems. One way to alleviate the problem is to ensure that the vendor rep is always accessible on the phone – and the rep can reach the writer as needed. This step takes care of the critical issue, and is beneficial in some ways in that the local rep has visibility into the bigger picture and can therefore anticipate and deal with issues even before they get to you.
In today’s world, multicultural workplaces are a fact of life. Despite that, it is easier to work with people who understand local culture. Your vendor’s local rep becomes crucial here. Good communication between the rep and the Documentation manager can make the difference between an OK project and an outstanding one. Make sure you can work with the local rep; he/she is responsive and appreciates your priorities.
In addition to these issues, there are some more aspects you should consider while thinking about outsourcing documentation work.
When does outsourcing make sense?
- Do you need a team of writers 24/365?
Your technical documentation team may not have work year-round. Having writers available as needed is more efficient and cost-effective. This is when outsourcing makes sense.
- Turnover: you train writers, and a year later, they leave.
Companies prefer to hire and train technical writers who know the business. Such resources are valuable. It hurts the company every time a highly trained resource leaves, and you have to start over. In such cases, having an outsourced resource mitigates the loss.
- Use resources only as needed
When you outsource your technical writing work, you pay only for the work and no FTE overhead. You contract the work only when there is a requirement.
- Get multiple skills at one person’s price
A professional technical writing company has team of skilled people on staff. While you pay for one resource, you still get the skills and experience of a number of other resources who the writer can call on for spot-help if needed.
- Scale your team as needed
Your outsourced technical writing team can always flex to deal with changing workloads. You can scale up or down your writing team as your needs change.
- Get advanced multi-purposing technology without investing in software
Technical writing software, especially an application that has archiving and multi-purposing capabilities, is quite expensive. aMarketForce, your outsourced technical writing services partner, will provide you the technical writing software for multi-purposing and other necessary tools required for efficient technical writing project management and delivery.