Technical documentation isn’t merely an extended collection of product information. It’s also a tool for fostering product adoption, boosting operational efficiency, and transforming business. One key role it has to play in all industrial sectors is technician enablement.
Why is tech doc an unmatched resource for building up technician knowledge? What is needed to turn it into the perfect upskilling material? How is it a quick win for tech doc and field service teams alike? Let’s find out.
What Makes Technical Documentation a Great Asset for Technician Enablement?
The very nature of technical documentation makes it an outstanding resource for product enablement. Here is why:
It’s exhaustive: technical documentation is the most comprehensive store of information on new and legacy products and technologies of a company. It includes all versions, every option, and each configuration possible that technicians will ever encounter.
It’s rich: beyond words, tech docs are enriched with images, vector graphics, animations, interactive SVGs, 3D images, and sometimes even videos, to provide the deepest understanding and the most accurate vision of the product and procedures.
It’s up to date: it’s a challenge for tech doc teams in a world of accelerated product development to keep up with the product itself. Yet, even with new products, updates, changes and fixes, technical documentation represents the most reliable and freshest information to be found about a product.
Still, being the best source of information for technicians alone is not enough to make it a great material for technical enablement – so how do we get there?
The Silver Bullet for Upskilling
Before explaining how technical documentation can upskill field teams, it’s best to start with when and where it’s specifically needed.
Most companies already understand that technical documentation is an essential resource for the onboarding of technicians. They include manuals, guides, and other product documentation in their initial training programs. This is definitely a good practice – but it’s far from the sweet spot of technical content for technician enablement.
It’s when the technicians leave the classroom and head out into the field that technical documentation has a more important role to play. Consider: when a technician is being onboarded, they can only be exposed to a limited number of product configurations and use cases. It’s both impossible and inadvisable to attempt to cover every setup before heading out to the field.
It’s when technicians are facing real life conditions and face specific installations they’ve never encountered before, or when they service unfamiliar products and configurations, that field technicians need to rely on precise, exhaustive technical documentation to reinforce the general knowledge they acquired in their initial training. As a matter of fact, it’s also when they learn best.
Microlearning studies have shown that when information is delivered in small chunks and in the context of the problem at hand, the working memory is enhanced. It applies to all of us, but is particularly efficient for hands-on learners, and it’s often the preferred way for field technicians to gain knowledge.
This is where the sweet spot for technical documentation is: delivering continuous enablement in the field as technicians practice and develop their skills.
So now we get to the how. Making technical documentation the silver bullet for technician enablement relies on the way you deliver tech content to field technicians.
There are three pillars for achieving optimal results:
Contextualized, precise, and relevant. Unlike generic manuals, the information that field technicians need on the job needs to be relevant to the particular task and case they are working on. They need to be able to review information about the exact configuration of the product they are servicing, and not be swamped with volumes of text that is irrelevant to the issue at hand. It means that the system that they will be using to search the doc should be able to understand the context of the search, smartly filter out the noise of thousands of similar documents, and point them directly, not to the related 1000-page PDF guide, but to the very section or topic that answers their question.
Mobile, Accessible, and Readable. It almost goes without saying that enabling field technicians requires that product information is delivered to the technician wherever they need it. Remote secured access is a must-have. What’s more, a necessary condition for technicians that are working in remote or highly secured locations, technical content must remain available offline. It’s essential that technicians can synchronize all needed documentation on their device for offline work, and get back to live access when they are online again. Finally, mobile access to documentation implies reading it on a variety of screens. Whether the technician is using a laptop, smartphone, or a tablet, the documentation needs to be readable. It shouldn’t matter if it is text, video, audio, illustrations, graphs or anything else, it needs to be properly rendered on the technicians preferred device.
Continuously connected to the product updates. The product cycle never stops, new configurations and technologies are released, enhancements and updates are added. New technicians need to onboard new knowledge and experienced ones need to stay current. Yet, there are few opportunities to go back to class, even less so every time a product is updated. All field technicians need to have a direct line to product information as soon as it is written and validated. Changes and additions to technical content must be delivered to field technicians in real-time to enable them to ramp-up in sync with the product updates and they should be dynamically informed when news related to the products they operate are published. This is core to a continuous enablement process.
The Key to Achieving the Quick Win: Dynamic Content Delivery
Technical documentation has it all: it’s complete, rich, up-to-date, and if it can be delivered effectively to the field it can power quick wins for technician enablement. The key to the quick win is leveraging – not rewriting – this enormous and growing resource and getting the delivery right. Modern document publishing technologies stand ready to do the job.
A Content Delivery Platform (CDP) is designed to create the sort of engaging user experience from existing product documentation. CDPs dedicated to technical documentation capture all of a company’s tech doc and transform it into a smart knowledge hub. This hub delivers actionable information that is tailored to the user, adapted to their specific situation, and suited to their mobile device and delivery channel.
In record time a CDP helps to create a personalized content experience that boosts operational efficiency in the field and drives user enablement. Here is a checklist of the CDP key features you need to turn your documentation into a winning enablement tool:
- Connectors to all sources of content and ingestion of all file formats
- Seamless, real-time integration and connectivity to the front-end documentation portal
- Remote and offline capabilities
- A semantic, self-learning search engine for fast, relevant results
- Device-agnostic readability, for all tech content formats
By adopting dynamic content delivery technologies companies have the opportunity to transform their technical documentation into a powerful tool for the field technician enablement. The key to quick success is leveraging the existing technical documentation to enable the onboarding and upskilling of field technicians on the job.
For service teams that face constant skill challenges this represents a significant gain in efficiency and workers become empowered, continuous learners. For tech doc teams, in turn, this represents a great opportunity to participate in the digital transformation of their company, enhancing processes, winning productivity gains, and recognizing the value of the investment already made into generating technical content.
Want to learn more?
These ten points, and much more information on Dynamic Delivery, are detailed in a white paper Dynamic Delivery: What it is and Why it Matters.