Benefit #2: Valuable Career Skill
These reports make the reader hunt for the information they need. Engineers who can convey that essential information improve communication inside companies. Better communication ultimately increases efficiency and productivity.
For this reason, employers view engineers with good communication and technical writing skills as highly valuable. Technical prowess is not enough. Technical writing can differentiate your skillset, leading to better employment prospects and higher job security.
Solution: Know Your Audience
Ignoring the audience is one of the biggest writing mistakes for engineers. The reader will be different for each document. To write well, you must know their knowledge of the field, relationship to the department or company, and purpose for reading.
In the planning process, ask yourself, ‘Who is my reader?’. Then, write out this information so that you are aware of it and have a constant visual reminder.
Keeping the audience top of mind will change the way you write your document. While you’re writing, ask yourself ‘Would my reader understand this text?’. If the answer is no, re-write it. If the answer is yes, you are producing good technical writing.
Solution: Plan Effectively
A technical document without a plan is like a ship without a captain. It is difficult to navigate and takes, long a long time to reach its goal (if ever!).
As an engineer, you will have a deep understanding of the topic. For most reports, the reader needs to know only a fraction of your expertise. The planning process is crucial for separating the information that needs to be included from the rest.
Be wary of details. The reader generally needs to know the implication of high-level specifications, not the specifications themselves. Once you’ve highlighted the necessary information, it can be organized into a coherent overview.
Planning can take many forms. We recommend using a mind-map to capture and visualize the document. Other writers may prefer a pen-and-paper sketch or a spreadsheet outline. The format does not matter so long as it allows an effective and efficient plan for your document.
Challenge #3: Making Time for Writing
Writing often takes a back-seat to ‘real’ work. Sometimes, there can be not enough hours in the day to complete technical work, let alone to write it down. Documenting can feel secondary, and therefore gets little time allocated to it. It can be helpful to set aside time for writing where there are no distractions. Don’t wait until the end of the day to write your documents. Additionally having a quiet space can ensure you are focused without distractions.
Benefit #3: Records and Completes Work
Great work does not share itself. The most innovative concepts can be lost if they exist only in the laboratory. Technical writing records engineering work and allows it to reach beyond the engineering department.
In addition, documentation provides a mark of completion. Some projects have a clear end point, while others can be vague. Documenting, including outstanding work for future, finalizes a project.