As promised in the last post, I will begin by taking a broad view of the topic.
Before anything, we must consider what it is we technical writers contribute to our organizations. In a basic sense, our presence has to be such that the return derived from the organization exceeds our cost. If we don’t achieve a return, employing us makes no sense (no pun intended).
Here are examples of returns technical writers provide their organizations:
1. Improved safety performance (by detailing the safety aspects of a task or activity).
2. Improved productivity and quality.
3. Improved morale among employees derived from improved safety, quality and productivity.
4. Better utilization of our products by our organization’s customers (end-users). Which can result in new customers for the organization.
5. Foundation for continuous improvement of processes (by having the current-state well documented).
This is a partial list, but it drives the point that good process descriptions in procedures is a means to improvements in all bottom-line aspects of the organization.
So…the first quality that makes a technical writer effective is the understanding of what the technical writer can bring to the organization. Be ready to articulate this, not in an arrogant “you need me more than I need you” tone, but to respectfully define the value a good procedure writer can provide to the organization. You would be surprised at how seldom the technical/procedure writer’s potential is understood in those terms.
Next time, we will discuss the “mechanical aspects” of writing effectiveness. Thanks for reading!