outsourcing technical writing
outsourcing technical writing

Dating from the early 1970s, outsourcing remains a powerful business trend. Whether it be onshore, nearshore, or offshore, more than 90% of companies practice it nowadays. Outsourcing offshore IT operations was the root of the incredible job market growth in countries such as India and the Philippines. However, as needs evolve, so does the career market. For instance India has experienced a significant increase in technical writing degree programs as well as job offers in the last decade. In this context, how helpful would outsourcing technical writing be?

What Is Outsourcing?

In simple terms, outsourcing is the practice of hiring services or buying goods manufactured outside a firm. Companies often outsource customer service operations (call centers). However, they also tend to outsource production tasks, human resources, and even entire divisions, such as the IT department (e.g. IBM). Undoubtedly, the main objective of outsourcing is to reduce costs without compromising quality. Nevertheless, this strategy provides other significant advantages: better focus on more important aspects of the business, more competitiveness and faster turnaround times.

To outsource, companies can either turn to big third-party providers, or hire independent contractors or freelancers. The key for a successful outsourcing experience is partner relationship management. Creating partnerships is healthier than just paying for a project.

There are three types of outsourcing: onshore, nearshore, and offshore. The difference lies in the geographical location of the third-party. While onshore outsourcing involves a provider in the same country, offshore relocates work or services overseas. As for nearshore, the third-party is located in neighboring countries.

Outsourcing Technical Writing

Technical communication is a key element of a product‘s success. Clear and comprehensible software manuals and other instructional materials improve the customer experience and reduce risks. However, creating professional content is a difficult task. Companies may lack the necessary skills or the financial resources to produce such documents by themselves.

As a result, outsourcing appears to be a fantastic option. The advantages are numerous:

  • Professional technical writers have access to the proper knowledge and resources to produce documentation. They know how to deal with any kind of content, and they can adapt documents according to the target audience. Moreover, they can provide editing and reviewing services. This ensures the quality of the text. 
  • Experienced professional technical writers can produce user-friendly documentation, thus creating a positive effect on customers. This reinforces customer loyalty.
  • Outsourced technical writing is performed by professionals that are up to date with the latest trends of the industry. They also know the right tools to increase productivity.
  • Since technical writing requires a lot of time, outsourcing allows employees to focus on the core elements of the business.
  • The cost-saving aspect cannot be overlooked. For many companies, covering the salary, insurance and training of a full-time technical writer is simply out of the question.

India is one of the countries that has seen a major growth in technical writing degree programs and technical communication companies. According to Indeed, the average salary of a technical writer in India amounts to $7,060 per year. 

What About In-house Technical Writing?

Despite the benefits of outsourcing technical communication, some companies may be inclined to hire their own staff of technical authors. Although it represents a large investment, the nature of the content may persuade a business to look for an in-house professional instead of relocating work elsewhere, especially if such content is very specific to the company’s product and internal information.

Naturally, this alternative may take some time to be implemented. Apart from the technical writer recruitment process, companies have to set up a management system and acquire the right tools. But in the long term, the effort pays off. 

A Wise Choice

There’s no right or wrong in outsourcing or hiring. The decision whether to employ a single technical writer or turn to a freelancer, that is to say a team of experts, depends on the needs of the company. Establishing the desired solutions for the business is key to determining whether to outsource or to hire in-house.

To conclude, outsourcing and employing in-house can complement each other. A company could call a provider as a consultant, and hire a technical author to manage the project. In that way, it will have the expertise of the provider, and a full-time worker in the office.

To read more about technical writing, click here.

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