Every instruction manual starts with researching what information is available about the (future) product. Technical writing departments use of a variety of sources, such as previous models and their documentation, development documents, prototypes, interviews with product experts, and much more besides. After researching the facts, the technical writers develop an information concept to define which information will be communicated to which target group, and in how much depth. Technical writing departments often work with content management systems. In this phase, they then establish which information modules already exist, which have to be modified or created, and how the information modules are to be combined.
The actual writing only starts once all this preliminary work is completed. As soon as the texts (or content modules) are finished, they undergo an approval and release process of at least two stages. Approval requires a product expert to check that what is in the manuals is correct. This is followed by an authoring review, where the technical authors check that the content is linguistically correct, and that the authoring standards have been observed. This two-stage release process is often followed by a usability test with the target group for the instruction manual. The documentation is only published and delivered once it has been fully approved and released, for example as a printed manual or as interactive user guidance on the machine display.
As well as actually creating the manual, technical writing departments have a number of multi-discipline tasks to attend to. These include, for example, establishing writing standards in a style guide, defining metadata and ontologies for describing the products and their functions, or managing and monitoring translations.