RE: Ratio of tech writers to developers

Subject: RE: Ratio of tech writers to developers
From: "Fisher, Melissa" <Melissa -dot- Fisher -at- delta-air -dot- com>
To: 'barbara hubert' <write_rhetoric -at- hotmail -dot- com>, TECHWR-L <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Thu, 29 Jun 2000 11:44:56 -0400

>>1 to 5 sounds like a huge number to me. At most of the places I've been,
>>it's more like 1 to 30.
>I guess we know whose more productive don't we ;-)

As so many other things discussed on the list, that would depend, wouldn't

For example, the last place I worked had a ratio of anywhere from 1:4 to
1:10 or so, depending on how you looked at it. Tech writers wrote only
product documentation, not functional specs or internal documentation. So
there an entire group of engineers who wrote middleware that was rarely, if
ever, represented in the documentation produced by the writers. Also, some
tech writers specialized in only hardware docs or only software docs. So the
ratios would again be different if you lined up the hardware writers with
hardware engineers and the software writers with software engineers.

My point, of course, is that a ratio is just a statistic, and can mean
whatever you want it to mean. If you are trying to scientifically determine
how many writers you need in a department or company, first decide what you
want to produce: functional or design specs? user manuals? help files? CBT?
internal documentation? corporate policies? Some combination of the above?
Only then will any kind of ratio be meaningful. And I still doubt if it
would be helpful.

Melissa Fisher
melissa -dot- fisher -at- delta-air -dot- com
(404) 773-8674

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