40 Ways To Cost Your Next Software Technical Documentation

How much does it cost to write a user guide? One way to estimate the price is to ask your customer about the software project and gather the technical and user requirements. Once you have this, you can determine how long the project will take, what resources are required and who needs to be involved in writing the documents.

Why Create a Software Documentation Requirements Checklist?

This checklist helps you understand the scope of work for your next technical writing software project. With this information, you can prepare a cost estimate and supply the Customer with a quote.

General documentation requirements

1. Documentation Format

How do you want the documents delivered? For example, do you want?

  • Online only
  • Printed only
  • Printed and online

2. Documentation Types

What type of documents do you want created? For example, do you want:

3. Existing Documentation

Do you have an existing document set that we can build upon or are we starting form scratch?

If Yes, what percentage is valid?

4. Other Information sources

Are there other sources of information that we can used in the documentation?

5. Training Requirements

Will users need training to use the documents?

6. Sample Data

Do we need to create sample data? Or can you supply examples of dummy data at the start of the project.

7. Style Guides

Do you have a style guide that must be followed? How to select the right style guide?

8. Localization

Will the documentation be localized?

9. Translations

Will the documentation be translated into other languages?

10. Outsource Firms

Are you outsourcing other parts of your documentation to other firms?

11. Glossary of Terms

Is there a glossary of terms or industry terms specific to your product?

12. Operating Systems

What OS does your software run on?

  • Windows (version)
  • Apple Mac
  • Linux
  • Others (specify)

13. Software

What is the purpose of the software you need to be documented?

14. Screens

Approximate number of unique screens:

16. Master Copy

Is a final version of the software available for documentation?

17. If not, specify the:

  • Level of completion:
  • Estimated completion:

19. Hardware

Is specialized hardware needed to use the software?

20. Third-party software

Is Third-party software needed to use the software?

21. User Types

Are there different types of user, for example, system administrator, operators, end-users etc?

23. Users’ Proficiency

Does the user need previous experience to use the software?

24. Computer literacy

Choose all that apply:

  • No experience
  • Basic IT literacy
  • Competent
  • Advanced

25. Issues

What are the main problems users have with the software?

26. Task Analysis

Has task analysis on user needs been performed?

27. Task Priority

Are the tasks clearly identified?

31. Online Documentation

What online formats do you want?

  • Adobe Air
  • WinHelp
  • HTML
  • WebHelp
  • Adobe PDF
  • Other:

32. Authoring Tools

Do you have a preferred authoring tool?

33. Context Sensitive Help

Do you required context-sensitive help, for example, when you click F1 or Help to open get help?

34. Printed documents

Do you want us to supply printed documents?

36. File Format

What source file format is required (Word, PDF, other)?

37. Budget

What is the budget for the project?

38. Additional comments

Please share any other information that will help us evaluate your documentation project.

About the Author: Ivan Walsh is a London-based technical writer who specializes in documenting plans, guides and manuals. You can download his Technical Writing Template Kit here and also his Software Development LifeCycle templates with free Word and Excel templates here.

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