Where do technical writers fit in an organization?

There are many different places that a technical writer can end up in a company which can affect everything from determining access to information and technology to how their contribution works in the company. Sarah Maddox says that there are 6 possibilities that she can think of:

  • Engineering and product management: Working closely with software developers or similar positions to understand the everything about a product. It gives technical writers an early chance to influence the final product by taking advantage of the “user-focused” nature of technical writers.
  • User experience: Working with other designers and researches to enhance the user experience by producing documentation and other user aids.
  • Support: Working with support staff to deal with customer requests or problems by helping with documentation.
  • Marketing: Working with the marketing team they are an important asset because they tend to yield better search engine optimization. Both technical writers and marketers often write about the same products and topics, especially when launching a new product or feature.
  • Developer relations: Similar to support and user experience they work with a team of people from just about every part of the company (writers, engineers, developers, marketing leads). Working with them as a go between internal teams who actually develop the products and external developers or customers who use them.
  • Change management: Working as more of a freelancer in a sense this position is more of a general one that dips into all the other ones previously mentioned.

While there might be more out these are the most common places that technical writers end up in a company. On the same note there are two videos that can help explain some of the positions better:

  • Webinar by Sarah Maddox
    • A webinar about the original author of the article speaking about her experiences working with a engineering team.
  • Craig Simms speaking at Write the Docs
    • A video from a Write the Docs meeting, Craig Simms talks about how technical writers can integrate closely with software teams.

Hopefully this helps illustrate where technical writers can go in an organization or company.

-Matthew Blanc

Original Article