Technical Writing: The Crowning Touch

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Many of us, that have worked as computer professions of some period time, understand the need to learn a variety of technical skills. Technical writing is a skill that needs to be in every IT professional’s tool box. It is the vehicle to define a problem or propose a project in a way that is clear, concise, easily understood, and persuasive by your target audience.

Let’s look at the ways in which an IT professional can use technical writing skills:

  1. Defining technical problems and solutions – It is often necessary to define a technical problem to people lay persons. You may also need for them to understand a number of possible solutions and your recommended solution. This is particularly important if you want them to trust your recommendation well enough to spend money to solve the problem .
  2. Writing product reviews. – Product reviews describe a product and how it works. You usually want to point out the pros and cons of using the product, its cost and value to the user.
  3. Writing process reviews. – Sometimes you will find yourself in a situation where you are tasked to do something and there are no written procedures. You may find it prudent to write a paper defining the process or procedure, as you understand it, and ask your managers to review your understanding of the document.
  4. Preparing business plans in order to obtain funds for a startup business. – Well written business plans allow bank loan officers to understand the who, what, why, how, and how much of the enterprise you want them to fund.. You want to answer all of their questions up front.
  5. Preparing funding proposals for software packages and hardware. – If you find yourself working for a large corporation or government agency, you may be asked to prepare a funding proposal for $100,00 to a $1,000,000, or more, of software or computer equipment. You will need to define the business problem, possible solutions and their draw backs in order to solve the problem and the most financially viable means of solving the problem. A good example would an IT manager is asked to prepare a plan to put computers in every classroom of a middle school that the school district is planning to remodel. They may also want a funding proposal for equipment, software and installation costs to implement the plan.
  6. Preparing employee performance reviews. – Employee performance reviews are usually very short but extremely important documents. You will need to write each sentence very carefully. You will need to consider how the employee will interpret each sentence, especially if you really value the employee. If you write a mediocre performance review, you are telling the employee that you do not value their efforts. Some of us believe that there are only two kinds of performance reviews, those that tell the employee that you want them to stay and those that tell the employee that you do not care if they leave. Regardless of what people tell you, there is nothing in the middle.

Technical writing courses help you understand the organization of effective, well written, documents. The most significant reason for mastering the art of technical writing is that it may translate into more money for you by increasing your value to your employer.


Randy Stalding

Randy Stalding has been a computer professional since 1968, spending most of his time working in IBM mainframe environments. He has worked with computers in the military, the federal government, the banking industry and high tech manufacturing industry, Randy has been a data processing operations manager, project manager and senior technical consultant. Randy owned a small brick and mortar retail hobby store for about 18 years. He has a BS from Washington State University an Associate degree in Data Processing and a recent Associate degree in Computer Science. He has also completed 12 semester hours of graduate studies in Management Information Systems at American University..

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