Simplifying your documentation process - 10 tips

Here are some tips for creating technical documents more efficiently.

  • Find exceptions (documents that require special treatment) and eliminate them whenever possible.
  • Use macros, simple scripts, and keyboard shortcuts to automate tasks that consist of repetitive actions across multiple documents.
  • Avoid enhancements that will result in a more complicated process, unless the ROI is very high.
  • Reduce the involvement of unnecessary people (reviewers that offer little feedback, etc.).
  • Create internal documentation for complicated procedures, but only if the process can't be made less complicated.
  • Eliminate documents that have a low ROI (those that are redundant or don't get used).
  • Avoid producing the same document in many formats; instead, focus on increasing the quality of the format that is most widely used.
  • Keep your document tracking tools and policies as simple as possible. Every bit of information you track costs future labor hours to maintain.
  • Use Readme files to store important notes with project files, but only if you're sure doing so will save time when you next update that project. Consider how long you'd spend tracking those details down vs. how long you'll spend maintaining the Readme file.
  • Create simple scripts for auto-generating your help projects and delivering your files.

Ok, so you won't always be able to throw tedious documents out the window. However, keeping these tips in mind will help you write technical documents with fewer headaches.

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