Challenges in Technical Documentation - and How to Overcome them

Published: 2023-07-27 Updated: 2023-11-16
Subject: Documentation Creating spare parts catalogs

Although they tend to work in the background, technical writers have an exciting job: For them, everything revolves around content, technology, and user centricity. Apart from that, technical communication is currently undergoing extensive change. Here's an overview of the key challenges and strategies to overcome them.

Technical communication is neither monotonous nor boring. On the contrary: Technical writers have to display creativity and have their finger on the pulse of the times. They need to know the latest EU directives and safety standards and keep a close eye on technological progress.  

In addition, technical writers have a direct line to departments like product development and know exactly what users need to work safely and efficiently. All of this adds variety to the field of technical communication - and poses major challenges for technical writers and their supervisors. 

The 5 biggest hurdles in the daily work of technical writers

Heads of technical documentation in mechanical and plant engineering and their teams have the claim to provide their customers with comprehensive and comprehensible information on the use, maintenance and repair of their products. But various developments are making this task increasingly difficult. 

  1. Complexity of information: As digitization progresses, machines and plants are also becoming more complex. At the same time, the guidelines for products and product-related information are becoming increasingly stringent. The need for explanation to the user is great. For technical documentation, this increases the effort required to convert complex information into comprehensible and precise communication.  
  2. Growing user demands: Operators of machines and systems want to solve problems and not read thick manuals. Manufacturers' customers expect information to be available to them in various formats and to find answers to their questions without detours. Instead of pure knowledge transfer, flexible knowledge management is required from editorial teams.  
  3. Increasing internationalization: More and more manufacturers serve customers in different locations around the world. In this global market environment, it is often necessary to translate technical documentation into several languages and adapt it to different markets. This requires translations and localizations.  
  4. Increasing time and cost pressure: Creating and updating technical documentation takes time, especially if it is done manually. But due to a shortage of skilled workers and increasing cost pressure, technical writers often have only limited resources and little time available for this.  
  5. Complex catalog creation: A bottleneck in the technical documentation process is often the creation of spare parts catalogs. Data must be consolidated from various sources, which costs time and nerves. If catalogs then also have to be created for different media and languages, and release is delayed due to cumbersome processes, there is a risk of lost sales for the manufacturer and dissatisfaction among customers. 

To meet these challenges, technical editors not only have to adapt their working methods, but also develop new skills. Because according to the Society for Technical Communication - tekom Deutschland e.V., it is not only the channels and formats in which content is provided that are changing, but also the way in which it is created. 

Technical writing teams need to build knowledge in the following areas, among others:  

  • Content strategy 
  • UX writing 
  • Use of voice bots or virtual reality 
  • Information architecture 
  • Use of metadata 
  • Project management 
  • Agile project methods 
  • Data management 
  • Data protection basics  
  • Digital content delivery 

How does technical writing meet these challenges?

Technical documentation experts want one thing above all: to do their job. To ensure that they have enough time to do this despite ever new challenges and the demand to learn new skills, the following three strategies ensure more productivity and relief. 

  • Standardization of processes: Standardized documentation processes enable technical editors to increase efficiency and improve the quality of their work. A clean database, clear guidelines and defined workflows are the basis for consistent and structured technical documentation. 
  • Collaboration and communication: Seamless exchange within the team and with other departments increases productivity. Regular feedback and a smooth flow of information help avoid misunderstandings and bottlenecks. This improves the quality of documentation. 
  • Automation via software: Software is the key to standardized processes and interfaces to other departments. Data can be exchanged quickly and cleanly, manual tasks are automated in the blink of an eye, and target group-oriented technical documentation can be provided with just a few clicks. 

Which software is useful for technical documentation and editorial offices?

One solution to overcome the biggest challenges of technical documentation is to use software like Quanos The spare parts catalog software offers comprehensive functions for technical documentation and supports editors in creating and managing digital spare parts catalogs.  


Large and complex amounts of data on different machines and plants can be processed and prepared efficiently. Thanks to automated processes and simplified approvals, fewer errors occur. The quality of spare parts documentation increases, while the effort required to create it decreases.  

In the second article of this series, you will learn how the software for creating digital spare parts catalogs helps you concretely in your everyday life.