13 May Technical Writers Scaling to Product SME
Technical Writers Scaling to Product Subject Matter Experts
– Amol Ketkar
Technical Writers can add a huge value to a company’s products and services by expanding their horizon, and transform into valuable Subject Matter Experts (SME’s). This is neither applicable to every writer nor is the final objective when you begin the TW journey. However, I would like to list the potential possibilities that can arise due to an elongated stay in this field and a company. Longer the relation between a TW and a company, easier it is to accomplish the company’s content strategy objectives.
Many companies who seek contract writers to complete their writing tasks only have contract specific expectations from the TW without realizing the true benefit of the TW in the long run. TW’s can gain sufficient product knowledge to communicate with the company’s customers and perform operational tasks to deliver content beyond the contract boundaries. Companies can benefit from viewing TW’s as potential SME’s as they can involve the writers to a greater extent. The writer would then become increasingly knowledgeable about customers, products, services, pain points, and the audience for whom documents are being developed.
Being an iterative process, the writer’s knowledge is bound to grow stronger. Retaining writers in the company for a longer duration increases the understanding of the company’s market hold, in-depth knowledge about the subject and core technical expertise. The quality, usability, sustainability of writing is also likely to improve.
From a company management standpoint, the training time and labor cost can be reduced substantially. After a few releases, the writer almost goes in an AUTO MODE in terms of product knowledge. Working continuously on the same product development (or even service) increases the understanding to a level that boundaries can be broken and real constructive technical debates/suggestions/value additions on different dimensions of the same subject start taking birth. This also increases the opportunity to hire new writers and groom them.
To summarize, Technical Writers are simply not writers but professional content communicators working in highly complex environments. They can transform to user advocates, analysis experts, along with content publishing. With repeated exposure, they can be product Subject Matter Experts and can represent the product in sales and marketing presentations and tradeshows.
About the Author
Amol Ketkar is a self-enthusiastic Technical writer with 2.5 years of experience in software documentation as a new career path. He loves to be a learner of technology and put it to optimum use. Prior to TW, he has worked for 11 years in the construction project management, and then transformed into professional writer, with a belief in growing slowly and steadily. Contact him on LinkedIn.