Who do you think should own product documentation meant for users (i.e, help articles, knowledge base, how-to, FAQs, product videos etc.)?
When it comes to owning product documentation meant for users – such as help articles, knowledge base content, how-to guides, FAQs, and product videos – the responsibility typically falls within the realm of the product team. Specifically, this responsibility often lies with the Product Manager or a designated Product Documentation Specialist.
Deep Understanding: The product team has an in-depth understanding of the product's features, functionalities, and user personas. This knowledge is crucial for creating accurate and effective user documentation.
Consistency: By centralizing ownership within the product team, you ensure a consistent and cohesive voice across all user-facing documentation. This consistency enhances the user experience and reinforces the brand.
User-Centric Approach: Product teams are driven by user needs and requirements. They can tailor documentation to address user pain points and provide solutions in a way that aligns with the product's value proposition.
Agile Iteration: As the product evolves, documentation needs to be updated accordingly. The product team is well-positioned to stay abreast of changes and iterate on documentation in tandem with product development.
Cross-Functional Collaboration: While the product team owns documentation, collaboration with other teams is crucial. Marketing, customer support, and design teams can provide valuable input, but the product team ensures that the documentation aligns with the product's vision and features.
User Empowerment: Product teams are vested in ensuring users derive maximum value from the product. Well-crafted documentation empowers users to effectively use the product, thus contributing to user satisfaction and retention.
That said, effective collaboration between the product team and other relevant departments, such as marketing and customer support, is essential. While the product team owns the content creation and accuracy, input from these teams ensures a holistic and well-rounded approach to user documentation.
Remember, the goal is to provide users with clear, concise, and easily accessible information that enhances their experience with the product. Ownership by the product team helps ensure that this goal is met effectively.
I've seen this handled differently across different organizations, and I'm not sure there is one single correct way. Currently, at Intercom, our Support organizatoin owns our help-articles, and our knowledge base and we have a Marketing team focused on customer education, that can bridge the support side of these documents with the marketing side, creating product videos and how-to's. Regardless, Product Marketing / Sales Enablement are partnered closely with each of these teams ensuring positioning and messaging is aligned and there is consistency throughout.
Product documentation can be owned by several teams, most commonly split between a documentation team, product marketing, and product management. Who manages each piece of content depends on the primary function of that content:
- Documentation Team: This team is dedicated to educating customers on how to use or implement product capabilities. They provide a standard set of detailed information on what each feature does, intended behavior, configurations, and other information to help internal support teams, partners, and customers use the product. Example documentation includes feature-specific descriptive articles on a knowledge base, information on release timelines and capabilities, educational videos teaching users how a feature behaves, etc.
- Product Marketing: Product Marketing is primarily concerned with positioning capabilities ultimately to drive sales and/or renewals. Product Marketing will create documentation that's meant to describe the value of the product and communicate how capabilities are differentiated in the market. This documentation is usually at a higher-level than those provided by a Documentation or Product Management team and is targeted towards supporting sales teams, account managers (sometimes customer success managers), prospects, and decision makers at customer accounts to help articulate the value of the product. Example documentation includes product datasheets, videos/content to generate buzz about differentiated capabilities, positioning and messaging content and FAQs, etc.
- Product Management: Product Management is primarily focused on releasing valuable capabilities and driving adoption of features and often works with the Documentation team to document new features at they get released. When customers need more technical, specific, or sensitive information than the Documentation team generally provides, Product Management will step in to create these documents and/or supplement articles from Documentation. At some companies, Product Management will also manage and monitor a community portal where customers can post questions and feature requests. Example documentation include product information guides to help internal teams across customer support and go-to-market understand new features, FAQs / whitepapers on commonly requested product-specific topics (such as privacy and data security), internal and sometimes external product wikis, etc.
My answer depends on the content and size of the team. Ideally:
A lot of the ones listed--help articles, knowledge base, how-to, FAQs---should likely live with a technical writing team.
On product videos, that should ideally be a partnership between the product (and product design team) and the marketing team if they are external assets. Product Design/UX will have the highest fidelity assets and also be (usually) most adept at doing creative things to those files to bring them to life creatively.