Some organizations are fortunate enough to have a large IT team with plenty of time to research, create and update technical documents. These documents not only outline an organization’s cybersecurity protocols but also show users how to implement them.
Writing and installing code that boosts cybersecurity is only the first step. System users need to understand it. It’s hard to follow cybersecurity guidelines when they’re difficult to understand. This is when it’s helpful to have a technical writing service. The next question is what are the various technical writing services and which one is best suited for your business. You have several options.
Whether you want to hire outside a third-party contractor but don’t know what to look for or learn more about technical report writing services, you’ll find all the information you need in this comprehensive guide.
What Are Technical Writing Services?
The definition of a service that provides technical writing is an individual or team of professionals that are skilled at creating technical documentation. The technical writers are also responsible for updating the information as changes are implemented.
It’s how the documents are written that sets the service apart. The technical writers will use easy to understand words and phrases in the guides, manuals and other documents they create. These writers clarify technological language. However, this isn’t the only service these writers can provide.
Technical writers can also create diagrams and charts that can be used on company websites that highlight the cybersecurity measures the business has implemented. This can help build trust with your consumer base, which in turn increases profits. Writers can also create company memos that clarify technical protocols, along with employee “help” files and “how-to” videos.
When you’re ready for a technical writer, whether it’s in-house or outsourced, you should already have a plan outlining what you expect from the writing service.
Why Create an RFP?
If you’re not familiar with an RFP (Request for Proposal), it outlines the terms of a contract that pertains to a specific project. It helps ensure that the technical writing project runs smoothly. The goal of your RFP should be to eliminate technical writing services that are ill-suited for your project. It also needs to set a timeline and budget.
Creating an RFP
Even though it will take some time, it’s not hard to create an RFP. Here are a few tips to help you get started.
- Name the company designated cybersecurity manager at the top of the RFP. This makes it clear who should be contacted if there is a security breach.
- Outline your company’s object/mission.
- Describe how the business is organized. For example, is it an LLC, C or S corporation or privately owned?
The next part of the RFP should address cybersecurity. You are giving the technical writer access to your network. The writer needs to have a complete understanding of your cybersecurity protocols to create the manuals, guides, and other products. However, you don’t want to risk a potential security breach. This could cause issues with compliance.
To ensure that PII (personally identifiable information) is protected it’s important to have a third-party technical writer sign a non-disclosure agreement. This will legally prevent a technical writer from disclosing any information that is found on or about the system.
If there are any remote employees that access the system, the technical writer needs to be informed. The RFP should also list all non-company devices connected to the system, along with sensors and AV equipment. This information is necessary for the writer to complete a manual that applies to all employees.
The final section of the RFP should include guidelines for continued support. As part of their contact, a technical writing service needs to maintain and update the products they create. This also applies to in-house IT writers.
What to Look For in a Technical Writer
Technical writing for cybersecurity is a broad field. Currently, certification is not a requirement to become a technical writer. However, there are a few aspects organizations will want their writer to have before providing them with access to their system.
- Have a detailed writing process
Technical writers should follow an outline they created. Unlike content writers that have the freedom to “ab-lib” to keep the article entertaining, this is not what you want from a technical writing service.
The writing needs to include all information regarding cybersecurity protocols only in a language that is easy to understand. The writing should be professional and concise. An example of the process a skilled technical writer should follow is,
- Decide on the type of document needed – manual, guide, email response, etc.
- Create an outline for each section of the document to ensure that all pertinent information is included.
- If the technical writer is covering a specific cybersecurity product, tests should be conducted and included in an in-depth review.
- Be ready and willing to make any revisions to the content as needed.
- Have experience in writing technical content.
Experience is almost a must when you’re looking for cybersecurity technical writing services. The reason it’s so important can come down to compliance regulations. The guide or manual outlining the company’s cybersecurity protocols is what every employee will follow. If information is omitted or poorly explained it could lead to a lapse in security protocols.
If a breach does happen, the company could be fined and found to be out of compliance. To prevent this problem, here are a few things to look for in a technical cybersecurity writer.
- The writer should have experience helping clients create strategies to inform consumers about the company’s cybersecurity program. This is an important step in building trust between a business and its customers.
- A technical writer with managerial or supervisory experience has an understanding of the hierarchy that often exists in a company. They will be able to structure the document in a way that clearly states who needs to be notified – and by whom – in the event of a security problem or breach.
- In the RFP it should be stated what type of document the company needs. The cybersecurity technical writer should be familiar with and have experience with the requested format.
If you do hire a third-party technical writing service you’ll notice that fees for experience are significantly higher. It is worth the added expense. In the long run, it will save you time and money in rewrites and other problems with the submitted content.
Cybersecurity Technical Writing Certifications
Even though technical writers are not required to be certified to work in any industry, including those that deal with PII, there are educational classes they can take. After passing the class, these technical writers will be awarded a certificate. Even though it’s not necessary for employment, it does indicate that the graduate has the skills and knowledge to complete your proposed project.
Three of the most highly top-rated programs for technical writing certification are:
American Medical Writers Association (AMWA)
Working with the AMWA the Medical Writing Certification Commission (MWCC) requires applicants to the program have a bachelor’s degree and at least two years of experience in medical communications. Due to the severe penalties associated with HIPAA compliance, any organization in the healthcare field will want their technical writer to be MWCC certified. As a bonus, upon receiving certification the writer can add the MWC distinction at the end of their name.
Society for Technical Communications (STC)
This is a three-tiered certification process and can apply to any technical writer in the cybersecurity field. Commonly referred to as a Certified Professional Technical Communicator (CPTC), it validates an individual’s experience and knowledge writing technical content. The three certification stages are,
- A Foundation Certificate indicates that the professional has and understands the knowledge necessary to write usable technical content.
- With a Practitioner Certificate, the writer has mastered the required applications and can instruct others on their use.
- The Expert Certificate shows that the professional understands various cybersecurity products and has the knowledge and skill to implement them and instruct employees on their implementation.
National Association of Science Writers (NASW)
The NASW was founded in 1934 and its goal is to share scientific information with each other and the public. It does not directly deal with cybersecurity, but if your business handles scientific data this type of technical writer can be helpful.
This is also one of the most difficult certifications to get. Applicants to the certification program must demonstrate prior writing experience in the scientific community. To be accepted in the highly competitive program, individuals must have two recommendations from NASW members and submit five articles they’ve written over the last five years.
Companies that want assurance the technical writer they bring in are capable of understanding and handling the scope of the project will want to find one with the appropriate certification. In the cybersecurity field, it can be AMWA or STC. Most colleges and universities also offer degrees in cybersecurity technical writing.
Finding the Right Cybersecurity Writing Service
Not every business has an IT team that is capable or has the time to write technical content. This means that the company has to outsource the project to a third-party contractor. As mentioned previously, there are not any requirements for certification. However, there are certificates available along with degrees in cybersecurity technical writing.
This is what you want to look for in a technical writer. They need to have the knowledge and experience with and of cybersecurity and the protocols your company needs to implement. Without this, it will be difficult for them to write the content that you need for employees and even your customers.
At RSI Security our certified specialists can help you create an RFP or write the technical content your employees need to implement and maintain cybersecurity protocols.
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