Is your Online Help Documentation Clearly Focused on Your Customers?
Without a thorough documentation audit, you could suffer productivity challenges and loss of reputation. A documentation audit is an in-depth review of documents that helps clarify what’s needed to work toward a consistent communication infrastructure.
Any successful business is built on a strong foundation. That foundation can include systems, processes and people that create a secure framework of support on which the business operates. One of those critical systems should involve the documentation a company produces. This can include a variety of publications, procedural documentation, compliance documents, etc. that exist in various departments, such as:
In short, without a complete “set” of consistent documents, your company runs the risk of sending out mixed messages by speaking with many voices—that is, the sales voice, the boardroom voice, the Human Resources voice, the public relations voice, the interdepartmental voice, etc. And this inconsistency can lead to costly outcomes, including:
- Internal productivity challenges
- Frustration and loss of trust among both customers and employees
- Which can all point to unnecessary expenses and a diminished reputation
Creating a company-wide style guide with an underlying master glossary solves this identity crisis. However, to create these invaluable communication tools, a comprehensive document audit must be made. This must be Step One in the process in order to get a good understanding of the status of documentation. Working with single documents in isolation will not provide sufficient consistency to maintain continuity with all communications.
The document audit
Cohort will undertake a specialized document audit for you, which involves studying documents and looking closely at items such as:
- Font size and type
- Ways images, diagrams, charts and tables are used and captioned
- How headlines appear
- Where and when bullets are used
Areas of inconsistency
- What kind of software is used to generate documentation as well as where the documentation is stored (e.g., SharePoint, LiveLink)
At the end of the documentation audit, Cohort will provide a report summarizing the findings, along with specific recommendations for moving further forward. One company, one voice. The eventual goal of a documentation audit is to gather information that will help you standardize your company’s forms, formats, words, phrases, fonts, images and tone. An experienced technical writer can help you through the process from start to finish.