Documentation Plan: Which Technical Documents should I write first?

Documentation plans – where do you start?

Which technical document should you first write when starting to a new tech docs project? KB emailed me this question. When starting as a technical writer, it can be hard to know where to start writing, especially if many people have different documentations needs. Here’s how to get started.

Documentation Plan for only $3.99

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Documentation Plan: Planning your technical documents

This is what I would do:

  • Identify who will read the documents, e.g. sys admins, users, and/or developers
  • Prioritize the most important documents first (and then do the rest if you have time/budget etc)
  • Develop a Documentation Plan to outline what’s required
  • Share it, get feedback, update and then
  • Start writing

So, with that in mind, look at these and see which need to be written up.

Tip: remember to download your documentation plan template here

Software Requirements: Do I need to write the SRS?

Write these IF you plan to make changes to the software and capture how/who/where it will be done.

The SRS is valuable as it helps to keep track on EXACTLY how the app should work. I’d prioritize this.

Software Documentation Plan: What to write

Focus on the most valuable docs to your team internally, e.g. which docs help us maintain the app and resolve tech support issues. Postpone the others for now.

If you have time to write a documentation plan, use this template to:

  • Identify the content
  • Identify the format
  • Estimate the page count, size etc for each document
  • Outline cost estimates for the project duration
  • Schedule resources to meet the documentation requirements
  • Identify tools, number of licenses, and PC configurations
  • Ensure documents are scoped correctly with the appropriate level of detail

Writing Sys Admin Guides & Work Instructions

If you have sys admin folks, and want them to follow EXACT instructions, then write the sys admin guide and the work instructions in that order.

This ensures that the apps run correctly and there are no ‘assumptions’ on how it should run.

User Guides: What other docs do you need?

If you have customers, then write this document. You can also create a Fact Sheet or Data Sheet if the customers are very technical but use your judgment.

Business Requirements: When to write

You don’t need Business Requirements if you have already passed this stage in the software development lifecycle UNLESS you have business analysts looking for these and your team lead has agreed to write up/update the documents
Remember, sometimes you don’t need to write ‘definite’ guides for each of these documents – just enough for the team to do their job.

Then get started, create a draft that covers the key sections, and when you have time expand the documents.

Does that make sense?

Documentation Plan for only $3.99

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Download these templates to start

Acceptance Test Plan

Contingency Plan

Software Development Templates

Acquisition Plan

Conversion Plan

Software Requirements Specification

Action Plan

Cost Benefit Analysis

Software Testing

API Documentation

Database Design

Standard Operating Procedures (SOP)

Audience Analysis

Datasheet

Statement of Work

Availability Plan

Deployment Plan

System Administration Guide

Bill of Materials

Design Document

System Boundary

Business Case

Disaster Recovery Plan

System Design Document

Business Continuity

Disposition Plan

System Specifications

Business Plan

Documentation Plan

Technical Writing Templates

Business Process

Employee Handbook

Test Plan

Business Requirements

Error Message Guide

Training Plan

Business Rules

Expression of Interest

Transition Plan

Capacity Plan

Fact Sheet

Troubleshooting Guide

Case Study

Feasibility Study

Use Case

Change Management Plan

Functional Requirements

User Guide

Communication Plan

Grant Proposal

Verification and Validation Plan

Concept of Operations

Implementation Plan

White Papers

Concept Proposal

Installation Plan

Work Instructions

Configuration Management Plan

Interface Control Document

Software Development Templates

Acceptance Test Plan

Maintenance Plan

Software Requirements Specification

Acquisition Plan

Market Research

Software Testing

Action Plan

Marketing Plan

Standard Operating Procedures (SOP)

API Documentation

Needs Statement

Statement of Work

Audience Analysis

Operations Guide

System Administration Guide

Availability Plan

Policy Manual

System Boundary

Bill of Materials

Project Plan

System Design Document

Business Case

Proposal Manager Templates

System Specifications

Business Continuity

Proposal Template

Technical Writing Templates

Business Plan

Quality Assurance Plan

Test Plan

Business Process

Release Notes

Training Plan

Business Requirements

Request for Proposal

Transition Plan

Business Rules

Risk Management Plan

Troubleshooting Guide

Capacity Plan

Scope of Work

Use Case

Case Study

Security Plan

User Guide

Change Management Plan

Service Level Agreement (SLA)

Verification and Validation Plan

Communication Plan

Setup Guide

White Papers

Concept of Operations

Social Media Policy

Work Instructions

Concept Proposal

Contingency Plan

 

Configuration Management Plan

Conversion Plan