Draft, Technical Communications

On Site, On Target: Going Directly to the Source Paid Dividends for Technical Documentation Development

Challenge

For most technical documentation jobs, the work comes to the writer. There are some instances, however, where the writer has to go to the worksite.

Such was the case when SPIRIT Global Energy Solutions, Inc., needed an Installation manual and an Operator’s manual written for its GENESIS Intelligent Asset Manager product.

The daunting task consisted of the need to create the two technical manuals from scratch, with no foundational documents to fall back on and no established documentation-creation process or naming convention available. Both technical manuals needed to be highly technical in nature and would, in the end, consist of more than 180 pages combined.

Solution

To tackle this task, the writer went straight to the source, traveling to SPIRIT’s headquarters in Midland, TX, and becoming embedded in the company’s operation. This included taking part in training sessions on the GENESIS product and even spending two days at a wellsite in the oilfield to get a first-hand look at the product in operation.

All of these activities were done in close collaboration with SPIRIT personnel so that an absolutely thorough understanding of the GENESIS system was acquired. This included working hands-on with SPIRIT’s technicians and product experts, photographing and documenting every step of the installation and setup procedures, documenting all safety regulations, and disassembling a GENESIS unit in order to document the RIB board and all other internal components.

Results

After the completion of this exhaustive information-gathering process, which took place over several weeks, the writer was able to confidently and successfully produce two technical manuals that were tested by several of SPIRIT’s engineers and judged to effectively meet their needs. In addition to documenting the installation, operation and maintenance of the GENESIS system, the design of the manuals became the new template for all of SPIRIT’s subsequent technical documentation.

“I must say, the writer did an awesome job on the manuals and getting them to me in a timely manner,” said Darren Dickout, Technical Services Supervisor for SPIRIT Global Energy Solutions. “I was in a major time crunch to get these done in time for a training session with a potentially huge client and it felt as if the writer dropped everything she was doing to help us. She delivered them on time and captured every picky detail that I requested be fixed. I got some feedback from my recent training sessions and I heard comments like, ‘I love the screenshots,’ ‘It’s so easy to use,’ and the best one: ‘It’s better than other manuals within our industry.’ That’s what we always want to hear!”

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