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"It occurs to me, that it will continue to be this way as long as
documentation is not a profit
center. The archives contain some posts about calculating the cost or value
of documentation, but I didn't see anything about documentation departments
making money for the company. So I'd like to know, are there are any
documentation departments out there that are operated as profit centers?"
John, in some situations, I've experienced the "I am boss so I must meddle"
factor. On the other hand, I also managed to convince a least one COO that
documentation/help systems DID, in fact, add all kinds of value to his
products. He kept finding me enough projects to keep me going as a full time
contractor for three and a half years running. And just to clarify, no, I
was not a former full time employee of his, as so many 'contractors' of the
nineties seemed to be.
Another place I worked (as a full time employee) attempted to run the
documentation center as a business unit - implying that they were a vital
part of generating business (read profit) for that company. I don't really
know how successful it was. I don't remember ever seeing a quarterly
financial report or anything like that from the tech pubs business unit....
I guess what I am suggesting is; it may very well be easier for a technical
writer to convince a client of the value documentation adds to a product,
entering into a contract with that client while reaping profits by writing
for that client at rates that make it worthwhile, than it would be build a
brass-balled-boss-convincing 'profit-centre' model for a doc department. As
far as I'm concerned, life is too darn short too spend trying to convince
the bosses that your department is more than a necessary evil.
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