• Kate Iverson

3 Tips on Managing Tech Writers

Writers come in all forms. From editorial to copywriting to technical writing, the dynamics shift on a case by case basis. For those managing a tech writer, getting the most out of them is dependent on creating clear guidelines and expectations.

As we all know, programmers and developers are very tech-oriented and will usually speak in such terms; hence, a writer needs to serve as a decoder, as well as a storyteller. They need to be strategic, creative AND technical, so helping your writer establish a comfortable, communicable workflow is something they’ll thank you for.

Managing Time

We chatted with an established tech writer on what you can do to better utilize your writing staff. She says the #1 mistake managers can make would be underestimating the time it may take for a writer to complete their work.

This can be solved by having a frank, up-front conversation about time expectations on any given project and also by providing enough information and access to resources. Deadlines can loom and quick turnarounds are often necessary — it’s a fact of life — but in general, allowing ample time to complete projects will most definitely result in better work and happier staffers.

Stay on the Same Page

Make sure everyone’s on the same page throughout each project stage — it helps avoid last minute needs and additional stress for everyone.

Budget time for the work and re-work. Remember, with software features, steps and screen shots change as the project progresses through development and testing.

Passing along project progress reports can be very helpful too, it allows those not involved yet to stay in the loop and up to date.

The Right Resources

Writing for tech is often a delicate dance when it comes to a writer communicating with project managers, development teams and QA. Taking highly technical speak and communicating its message into clear, understandable terms is no easy feat.

A good writer will do their homework before jumping into technical conversations and will ask the relevant questions, but it’s helpful for managers to provide a clean access line to the necessary resources.

Our expert says she starts work with the user stories, engineering proposals and mockups. Then when the product is available, she plays with the feature, edits topics, organizes, edits, and fine tunes. The key things she likes to receive as resources are clear engineering proposals, implementation details and UI mockups where applicable. In other words, the more info, the better!

Vettanna's CEO, Jennifer Flaa, says you can alway take an engineer for coffee and ask a few quick questions to get clarity and keep your forward momentum

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