It is easy to think of documentation as simply the reader’s companion, which they use when they need help with a product or service. But a lot of documentation is more than this, it is part of an industrial or institutional system. Designing and writing documentation to be part of such a system can be quite different from writing stand-alone documentation.
Software documentation vs. everything else
There often seems to be a divide in the technical writing community between those writing software documentation and everyone else. Everyone else includes fields such as manufacturing, medical, and insurance. People working in the “everyone else” camp often complain that much of what is written about technical communications, and many of its tools and so called “best practices” are only looking at software documentation and ignores the needs and practices of “everyone else”.