On my first or second day in my new technical writing job my manager told me, “The CS [customer support] guys have put together a ‘cheat sheet’ for setting up hardware redundancy. They’d just started working with Pat [my predecessor] to get it published as a user guide.”
I looked at the cheat sheet: a 40-page Word file describing what works with what (and what doesn’t), the basic setup process, and several “gotchas” to watch out for. Good, useful stuff. Yeah, our customers would like to have this. I can massage it into a user guide.
But when I investigated further, I found a surprise: about half of the cheat sheet consisted of content already in the product documentation. The CS guys were surprised when I pointed that out to them.
So now we have two things going on: the organization has good information that it wants to deliver to its customers. At the same time we’re already delivering good information, but people don’t know it’s there.