Centralization versus decentralization?

Subject: Centralization versus decentralization?
From: "Hart, Geoff" <Geoff-H -at- MTL -dot- FERIC -dot- CA>
To: "Techwr-L (E-mail)" <TECHWR-L -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>, "'Lisa Kemp'" <lnk -at- ONTARIO -dot- COM>
Date: Wed, 18 Oct 2000 12:58:17 -0400

Lisa Kemp wonders: <<Our company is considering decentralizing Technical
Communications so that each division has a group of TechComers who learn the
markets they serve. What are the pros and cons of decentralization in your

Advantages of decentralization:
- Increased expertise in very specific areas.
- Direct contact and formal working relationships with developers.
- Direct recognition of the importance of documentation, and inclusion of
writers in planning requirements.
- Easier to get information from experts.

Disadvantages of decentralization:
- Some writers will have too little work to do; some will have too much. And
there's no easy way to resolve this, since writers can't be reallocated
easily between projects.
- Overspecialisation may make it more difficult to move writers to other
projects when resource needs increase. Plus, if one writer leaves, nobody
else can take up their role immediately (too much knowledge of audience and
how that development group works will be lost).
- No single manager to advocate for your rights with senior management.
- No consistency in style, quality control, usability testing, etc.
- Budgeting becomes ad hoc: some groups will resource you appropriately, but
others won't.
- Document management becomes more difficult.
- More difficult to work together to produce joint documentation when two
products with different writers must be integrated.
- Loss of knowledge sharing among writers (since the writers now won't see
each other regularly).

On the whole, I'd say the disadvantages outweigh the advantages.

--Geoff Hart, FERIC, Pointe-Claire, Quebec
geoff-h -at- mtl -dot- feric -dot- ca

"Technical writing... requires understanding the audience, understanding
what activities the user wants to accomplish, and translating the often
idiosyncratic and unplanned design into something that appears to make
sense."--Donald Norman, The Invisible Computer

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