Are you considering hiring a documentation consulting company to help with your technical content writing?
The decision to hire a consulting company for your documentation needs can result in many benefits for your organization. Hiring a consultant brings new expertise to the table, relieves stress by reducing your workload, and saves your most valuable resource – time.
Your organization will have more time to focus on other key operations, thus giving your business a competitive edge.
How do you know what to look for in a potential documentation consulting company? The market is saturated with contractors vying for your attention. Before you begin your search, conduct an internal assessment of the project you want to hire the consultant for. Understand the needs and goals before you interview potential partners.
Conducting an internal review will help you envision a clear picture of the ideal business partner. An internal evaluation will also help you create an expectation for the scope of the project and of the work to be performed. Having a predetermined idea of the project will help you find the agency that best suits your unique needs.
Trilyon is proud to provide niche expertise in areas such as video production, localization strategy, XML and DITA conversion. With a highly specialized network and more than ten years’ experience, Trilyon guarantees top-notch technical writers. You might struggle to find the same level of expertise at a more general consulting agency. Keep this differentiation in mind as you search for potential business partners.
Another important note to keep in mind is that asking specific questions will garner specific answers, while asking generic questions will result in standard answers built upon the philosophy of the agency. It is important to ask a mixture of both standard and detailed questions to get a solid snapshot of the vendor. Your questions should be thorough and tailored to the project you are hiring for, while also leaving room to discover the agency’s key differentiators.
With so many options on the market, finding the ideal consulting partner for your technical documentation can seem overwhelming. These five questions will help guide your decision-making process to ensure you find the perfect partner for your business.
This is a basic question that ensures your potential partner will possess the necessary skills and experience to successfully complete your documentation project. Expect a detailed response to this question.
You want a clear picture of the firm’s experience in order to best determine if they align with the scope of your project. For example, if your technical writing needs to be organized, but the firm has no experience with XML or DITA conversion, that contractor likely isn’t the best fit for your needs.
Don’t be afraid to ask for samples of what they have done in the past, particularly if they have previous projects relating to your business’ field. You can also take this time to ask about the satisfaction of the firm’s previous clients and ask for references. Look for companies with a proven track record of customer service with an emphasis on satisfaction. After all – if their previous clients are happy, you’re more likely to feel the same way!
This question is a chance for your potential partner to shine. Allow the interviewee to speak at length about their firm’s specialties, particular expertise, the services they provide – whatever makes them unique!
Look for confidence and assuredness in their responses. You want to work with a documentation firm that takes pride in what they do. If a company says they’re proud of their technical writing achievements, ask for examples. If they boast about their transparent communication, inquire more about their strategy. You want a crystal-clear depiction of why this firm stands above the rest.
Again, make sure you’re asking detailed follow-up questions. If the firm seems uncertain about their response to this question, you may want to consider looking elsewhere. There are extraordinary documentation consultants waiting to work with you, and your organization deserves the best service and outstanding technical content upon the project’s completion.
As the client, it is important to understand who will be handling your business’ documentation. The size and build of the team will determine the rate at which your project will be completed. More importantly, the consulting agency should give you a description of the expertise of each team member. Once you know who the assigned team will be, ask if they will work full-time on the project. Knowing this information will help you make sure the team assigned to your account is well-suited to handle your needs. For example, while some staffing agencies will take your project offsite, Trilyon offers in-office staffing for your convenience. This option allows you to maintain close supervision for the duration of your project.
You can also take this opportunity to ask about the team’s management methods and work process. Understanding the process will give you insight into the firm’s values. Finding a partner that works the same way to your own can be ideal as both parties will have a similar vision in regards to expectations and objectives to accomplish. A good consulting firm understands that each technical content creation project is unique and will be able to work with you to create the perfect management plan.
As a follow-up to asking about the team, it’s important to inquire about the turnover rate at the agency. A special note of caution: If the turnover rate is more than 10 percent on an annual basis, it may signify retention issues, which could spell trouble for your project.
Effective communication is the hallmark of any successful consulting relationship. You’ll want to be kept in-the-loop as the hired team works on your project. With Trilyon’s onsite staffing, you’ll be able to keep a constant stream of communication with the hired team, thus eliminating any potential communications errors.
Discuss the type of communication you’d like to see from the team; do you require daily project progress summaries, or are you more interested in the idea of weekly meetings to touch base? Perhaps a mixture of both!
Whatever you and the consulting firm decide, you need to maintain a certain level of interaction for the duration of your documentation project. All parties involved need to understand the communication expectations, including how they will keep you up-to-date on any obstacles or changes to the project, before you sign a contract.
Even after the project is completed, you may need to ask clarifying questions or require customer support. Be sure to ask the agency if they offer continued support after the technical content project has been completed. Find a partner willing to communicate with you on a level you’re comfortable with.
Perhaps the most vital aspect of any business deal, the contract needs to be completely understood by all parties involved in the technical content creation project. It should outline business practices, financial terms and expected completion date, as well as whatever miscellaneous details are vital to your documentation project. The contract sets the expectations of the project before it begins and will be what you refer to should a misunderstanding occur. One of the most common grievances of failed consulting relationships is poorly defined service conditions.
Be sure to review the document with a legal professional before signing. A lawyer will aid in the understanding of the contract, eliminating the possibility of miscommunication in the business agreement. Also, double-check that you will be the rightful owner of the finished content and that your business will receive all project-related materials. After all, you’re paying for it – you should own it! Any firm that attempts to withhold a portion of the finished project should be avoided.
Hiring a documentation consulting company for your technical content is a fantastic way to give your business a competitive edge. With these five questions in mind, you’ll be able to get the information you need to find the perfect firm for your project. After reviewing the answers from potential consultants, ask yourself one final question: “Which one can I see working with as a long-term partner?” With the right firm, you can expect a longstanding business partnership that can expand beyond a single technical content creation project.
Trilyon, Inc. is proud to provide exceptional documentation consulting services tailored to your business’ specific needs. We specialize in documentation and content writing. Contact us today with any questions you have and to learn more about how we can help your business reach its fullest potential.