Re: How can technical documentation add value?

Subject: Re: How can technical documentation add value?
From: k k <turnleftatnowhere -at- yahoo -dot- com>
To: TECHWR-L <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Mon, 5 Jan 2004 08:20:05 -0800 (PST)

I think your question really should be, "How 'should'
a TW add value?" It's equal to asking what the TW's
best job description would be.

Several people have made points about how the TW can
enhance the product if involved early enough in the
design/production process, and I agree with that point
of view. One thing that a TW is well suited for is
requirements analysis - working with the customer to
help identify the *real* needs the product must
fulfill. A good requirements analysis phase can save a
lot of time and grief later.

Another area that TWs are useful in is GUI design.
When you have to be able to sensibly describe the
workings of a GUI to someone not familiar with it, you
gain a unique insight into whether it is designed

TWs are also play a unique QA role. TWs are in effect
a company's built-in user focus group. The TW is the
person whose way of looking at the use of a product is
most like the customer's. That makes him/her a kind of
in-house customer field test.

As to "How 'can' a TW add value?" - Alas, all too
often the answer is, they can't because the company
won't let them. The problem is a TW can do several
things that add value but seldom is able to convince
the company to allow it. We are a corporate
afterthought too much of the time.

The heck of it is, it would be childishly simple to
exactly quantify, in actual dollars and cents, how
much value the TW adds to the product:
1. Collect sales figures for the last X quarters.
2. Tell the customers that from now on the company
will no longer provide any documentation.
3. Collect sales figures for the next quarter.
4. Watch what happens next. ;-)

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How can technical documentation add value?: From: Reena

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