50+ Sample Documentation Plan

What Is a Documentation Plan?

A documentation plan is a business document that is written by project leaders or team leads (basically speaking, written by technical writers) with the purpose of shaping up all the essential elements of the task that needs to be accomplished in a given period of time. This document will also help organize all the activities within the technical writing team and allow everyone with proper authorization access to all the essential information.

What Are the Important Components of a Documentation Plan?

Discussed below are the necessary elements that should be present when making a documentation plan:

Cover Page. The documentation plan’s cover page should summarize what the whole project is about. Additionally, each project should include a copyright declaration, the names of proprietors, and a summary of essential figures. Keep in mind that the last part (essential figures) may not be necessary depending on the project.History. This is the second important element of the documentation plan. A documentation plan must also include the history that a project has gone through, such as the date of updates, title, and names of the people that conducted the updating on that project. Essentially, this is performed so that you can keep count of any adjustments that occur on your side or if any other employee is interested in them.Contact Information. Another important element that should be included in a documentation plan is contact information. In fact, this element should be included when writing nearly every type of business document. The contact information section of the documentation plan should provide a list of all the people who are responsible for the project. People from the management level or senior authorities who have a voice in the project are included.Table of Contents. This may seem simple enough, but whenever you are assigned to create a documentation plan, a table of contents section should be included. The reason for this is because a suitable content correlation of a documentation plan will only aid to navigate through the plan.Summary. This element of the documentation plan is one part you should not forget to write as it serves as the core part of a documentation plan; the summary also serves as the starter point of a documentation plan. This element should primarily focus on the project’s highlights, such as substantial updates on major topics. By reading the synopsis, one should be able to determine the time periods or deadlines for their particular mini-projects. As there’s always a mini-project within a larger one, a summary must be segmented among other mini-projects.Audience. This is another part of the documentation plan that you should not omit. The audience for whom you are creating documentation is the most important part of any documentation plan. As a result, make certain that you include the appropriate aspects of the project for the intended audience. Keep in mind that if you use technical phrases, use them with caution because your audience may not be familiar with them.Documentation Specifications/Format. When a documentation plan is being written, the fonts, logos, color orientation, photos, media material, what the page dimensions are, and so on should all be given specific care and should not just be written hastily. Whether it is an online or printed publication, whether it is single-sourced documentation or multiple, proper formatting and specifications should be observed always.Time table/deadlines. The last important element of the documentation plan that should be included is the timelines. A timeline is required, whether it is for real-life or project planning because having routine activities will always keep us in check regarding our progress. It is very critical to have a timetable in the context of planning a  project no matter how big or small it is and subsequently documenting it so that we can always verify the questions that may arise, such as questions regarding the project bottlenecks, any backup plans involved, etc.

What Are the Different Types of Technical Documentation?

Discussed below are the different types of technical documentation which are utilized in different types of professions:

Product Manuals. A product manual describes the inner workings of a product, where each component is located, and what each component is used for. Basically speaking, it explains all a user needs to know concerning the functions of a specific product. Even though product manuals are most commonly associated with physical items, the majority of which include product part diagrams and pictures, they may also be developed for any type of product.Repair Manual. This type of document describes the methods of how to repair a broken product. Repair manuals are especially handy since customers rely on them to solve hardware difficulties or a combination of problems. When individuals are dealing with problems like these, it’s useful to have clear, simple information available to assist them to move through repairs quickly and effectively so they can get back to doing what they love.Project Plans. Project plans are papers that explain the aims and objectives of a project as well as a road map to assist you to get there. They outline each step you and your team must take to accomplish a project or deliver a product. They keep you focused on your overarching goals and provide crucial dates so you can track your progress toward them. Project managers develop project plans at the start of each project, whether it’s switching to new accounting software or developing a new computer program.Test Schedules. The stages, activities, dates, and obligations involved in software testing are described in test schedules. They are used to plan for and assign resources, such as the equipment and engineers required to execute a test. Because regular testing allows you to discover flaws early, test schedules serve to reduce the risk associated with software development.Case Studies. This technical documentation demonstrates how your product assisted a specific client in achieving their goals. To construct a case study, you’ll usually need to interview a current or former customer. The interview should contain questions that will assist you in obtaining actual figures to demonstrate that your organization generated outcomes. In a case study, you’ll also record the customer’s testimonial of how they battled before your product and how your product changed their lives.Business Standards. These are types of technical documents that specify the rules, principles, and benchmarks that your company must always fulfill in specific areas. They are utilized during job orientation and as references when needed. To develop your firm’s business standards, describe your corporate values, explain how employees should respond to events in ways that represent your principles, and establish benchmarks for your organization.

Steps in Creating a Documentation Plan

Now that the documentation plan has been discussed, including its critical elements, it is now time to create a documentation plan. Here are the steps you can follow in order to create one:

  • 1. Do Your Research

    Before writing the documentation plan, this step must be performed first, which is to do some research. This is an important step to follow because although it may seem apparent, establishing the goal and scope of your documentation plan well ahead of time will save you a lot of time and work. This stage might be as easy as checking through current resources and guides and performing a quick audit of what you have and what is lacking, or it could be as complex as developing connections with the technical team to gain a better understanding of the subject.

  • 2. Focus On the Plan’s Structure and Design

    After doing your research, this step will soon follow. As the title suggests in this step, put great emphasis on the documentation plan’s structure and design. This is important because any kind of documentation plan should be useful and making it architecturally coherent and easy to read and understand is a big part of that. Before you begin developing content, you must consider how that material will be displayed. This entails considering both the on-page design and the organizational structure of your text. Using templates for consistency and developing a clear framework are two suggestions.

  • 3. Start Writing the Documentation Plan

    After brainstorming about the structure of the documentation plan, in this step, now you can begin creating one. The simplest method to generate technical documentation, like any other writing task, is to follow a few stages rather than diving right in and starting writing. The writing process is separated into many parts. The first step is to create a draft, which is an excellent starting point to iron out any inconsistencies in the documentation strategy. Then you may begin gathering input on the plan you’ve developed to ensure that you’re doing things correctly, and the final substep would be editing and revising the plan.

  • 4. Gather Feedback

    After writing the documentation plan and if you already feel confident with what you’ve written, you can now gather feedback. Unfortunately, since this step occurs after writing the documentation plan, this stage is frequently ignored during the preparation of this type of document since most organizations lack the necessary time and resources or believe it is not worthwhile. However, a documentation plan is always focused on the user. It’s a failure if it doesn’t work for them. Conduct a navigation audit while gathering comments. Keep in mind that the format of your paper is crucial. If consumers can’t readily get past them, they’re just as ineffective. Check for any broken hyperlinks in the documentation and ensure that all navigational components are functional and visible.

  • 5. Develop a Schedule to Maintain Your Documentation Plan

    After everything else has been done, this serves as the last step. A documentation plan is a dynamic type of document that should always be examined and updated in response to new product releases or changes. To keep up with what’s happening around you, you must set a timetable for regular maintenance as part of your work, which means you may need to go through the test steps again. You should also keep this document up to date. Updating is really essential since an outdated documentation plan is very useless.


Why Can Documentation Writing be so Difficult Sometimes?

This type of writing can be difficult since all of us start with an empty document at first, and an empty document will always intimidate any writer, no matter the experience that he/she has. Why would a blank page be intimidating? This is because it can lead us to a condition called a choice overload since a blank page will always give us countless methods of phrasing the very first sentence of our write-up. A blank page always challenges you to write entire sentences that are interesting and logically related to the ones that follow before and after them. Even if you are well-versed in the subject, beginning a writing assignment in this manner is challenging.

What is Software Documentation?

Software documentation is an essential component of every software. Proper documentation techniques are critical to the software’s success. It is important that software documentation must have an engaging customer experience, information architecture, and a thorough grasp of your target audience. Software documentation can also be connected to API documentation, which can then be used to either incorporate into code or enhance the functionality of an existing program, or it can also be tied to release notes which serve to identify which issues have been resolved in the current release.

An RFP is a technical document. What is it?

An RFP document means a request for a proposal document. It is technical documentation that introduces an upcoming project and invites bids on it. Subsequently, proposals are documents that encourage clients or investors to purchase a product/service. Both are used by businesses to recruit their preferred business partners, whether they be vendors, investors, or consumers. It is important that in writing both documents, you must include crucial topics such as the project summary, company background, project scope, and goals.

An effective documentation plan always serves as a project’s blueprint. Without this document, a sincere outlook or prediction of what the project is going to look like will never be made. A pretty compelling reason for creating a documentation plan, aside from the one previously mentioned, is to set up a concise help process. Whenever this type of document is created, each member of the project team will now have a starting point that they can stand on. The plan also ensures that the entire process is efficient and consistent. In this article, there are plenty of examples of a documentation plan that you can download for personal use.