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Technical Writing Services

Lasotell Pty Ltd has staff, associates and contractors in three broad categories of technical communication skills who can fill your writing needs. It is important to match our technical communicator with your task. The skill groups are:

  1. Production Writers - these people take material that is finished, except for final formatting for delivery. Tasks may include running a spelling check, adding headers and footers, printing, copying, packaging.
  2. Technical Editing - this category has a broad range of skills. At the bottom end, the writer can take material that is finished, or nearly finished, as far as the author is concerned, and edit it for grammar and general style. At the other end of the scale, the writer can take the first or second draft from the author and tidy it up in every respect, occasionally adding to the content by providing comments and ideas for the authors to consider. The difference between people at the top and the bottom of this category is the prior knowledge they have in the relevant field.
  3. Technical Authors - these people can create the material from scratch. They can act as ghost writers and do their own research, write their own material, edit it themselves (or better, pass it to someone in Category 2) and deliver it to the "owner" for content review.

What type of document development environment do you have?

Figure 1 shows an Environment Quadrangle that identifies four "extreme" environments for developing documents. Recognizing the true nature of your document production environment and where it falls in the Environment Quadrangle will give you a better idea of the types of technical writing skills you need. As you can imagine, a mismatch could ruin an otherwise recoverable or avoidable situation

Work-Quadrangle

Figure 1 — Document Development Environment Quadrangle

Rigid Structure

This environment is dominated by the complexity of the deliverable document. This environment needs mature processes if you want to deliver the product without losing your sanity or your shirt (that is, your company or department profit margin). This condition exists when the final product is being or will be produced in the following environment:

Standard Output

This is what everyone wants, but it is an "extreme" because the conditions necessary to produce it are usually not understood and so rarely achieved. Standard Output is achieved when the final deliverable is being or will be produced in the following environment:

Magic

This is the environment characterised by chaos and garbage in, but a Standard Output product is required. It is the worst development environment because it is characterised by the view that the documentation is just a blankety-blank nuisance that has to be written with the least amount of effort from everyone involved in "real work". Magic documentation is what happens when the final product is being or will be produced in the following environment:

Nightmare

In a few words, any job that has been left to a time when it is almost impossible to provide the necessary information at a credible standard. The typical response is to throw more people at it. Wrong — you have more chance of pulling it off with fewer, clearer thinking heads. You need a SWAT Team. But remember, Heroes don't come cheap. Before committing to this task, ask yourself these questions:

Measurable benefits of using Technical Writers

The easiest to measure benefit is that engineers, for example, can remain focused on applying their skills to the technical information and not worrying about things like trying to explain it in plain language, formating, grammar and consistency. One technical writer can support several engineers and free roughly 20-30% of each engineer's time to focus on the technical part of the task.

Lasotell staff typically use conference-style dictaphones to simplify information gathering. This lets technical staff present their material in any way it suits them and to talk about it. We produce the written material from the tape. It saves the technical people's a large percentage of time. (One hour of tape turns into five or six pages of text that would otherwise have taken at least two to three hours of engineer time to write per page ). The engineer needs only to review and markup the output from the technical writer.

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Specific Lasotell writing skills and functions