RE: Ratio of tech writers to developers

Subject: RE: Ratio of tech writers to developers
From: "walden miller" <wmiller -at- vidiom -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Thu, 29 Jun 2000 10:05:17 -0600

Melissa wrote:
> 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
> how many writers you need in a department or company, first decide what
> want to produce: functional or design specs? user manuals? help files?
> 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.

I disagree to a point. The engineering/writer ratio is somewhat misleading.
As Melissa points out, this can mean different things in different
companies. I find a more accurate ratio is (non-mature) page count to
writer. And also, to a smaller extent: documentation releases to writers.
For example, I manage 6 writers who maintain and write about 12000 pages of
API and user documentation. There are about 15 releases a year. This is
not acceptable. I would say that 1000-1500 pages of volatile pages per
writer is a better ratio, given the number of releases. (release overhead
kills productivity). We currently have 3 or 4 reqs out (I forget how many).
When these are met, we will be in better shape to handle the page count.
However, by the time we hire and train the new writers, the page count will
undoubtedly be closer to 13-14000. so it goes.

Walden Miller
Director, Vidiom Systems
Boulder, Colorado

ps: There are about 80 engineers right now for a ratio of about 13/1. In
this instance, I want to make a ratio of about 9/1. Optimally, I would love
it to be about 7/1, but that has no chance of happening.

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