How do you add value as a technical communicator? (long post)

Subject: How do you add value as a technical communicator? (long post)
From: "Dana Cadman" <dana -dot- cadman -at- cadmancc -dot- com>
To: <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Thu, 25 Jan 2007 09:00:51 -0500

Hello everyone:

I've searched the archives, but either I am using the wrong terms to
find what I want or this topic hasn't been discussed - how do you add
value to your company/clients as a technical communicator?

I am writing a white paper on the topic and am looking for real world
examples from the following seven areas. Certainly, if you see other
ways to add value, let me know.

1. Cost. Staff writers cost less per hour than programmers, financial
analysts, project managers, and most other professionals. Contract
writers cost about the same per hour, bur are paid only for the length
of the project.

2. Time. Professional writers are, well, professional. They possess
experience and training in writing and writing technologies that other
employees don't. They can do the job much faster than
non-professional writers.

3. More time. Many hands make light work. Offloading documentation
work to a professional writer lets other professionals concentrate on
the work for which they were hired. As a result, the entire project is
completed more quickly than if the programmer, etc., had to do their
work *and* the documentation. This is basic outsourcing/contracting.
Corollary - When people do the work they enjoy, and don't have to do the
work they don't enjoy (writing), employee retention is improved.

4. Even more time. Well-written instructions, employee manuals, etc.,
can reduce new employee training time by as much as 50% (I read this in
an Intercom some time ago, but I can't find my old issues [we are still
moving in]). Instructions also reduce cross-training time for existing
employees. Corollary - When everyone is doing the same job the same
way, quality is improved (assuming the instructions are good and the
process is efficient).

5. Reduced liability and waste. Inadequate documentation can incur
thousands of dollars in hidden costs. For product documentation, this
equates to reduced liability and can lower product support calls 20% -
40%. For procedural documentation, this equates to reduced loss of time
and materials Again, I read this in an Intercom some years ago, but
don't recall the issue.

6. Reduced overhead expenses. Contract writers have their own equipment
and software. Your company can employ documentation solutions without
investing in expensive software and training.

7. Increased sales. Good writing reduces the number of missed revenue
opportunities. Convincing someone to use your product or services
requires that you can clearly communicate the benefit of your product or
service to them. Many companies spend time and money to ensure the
quality of what they sell, but they give little or no thought to the
message that will communicate the value of that product or service.

Any research or real-world examples you can provide to me world be
great. By way of example, for #6 above, I rewrote the proposal response
template for a leasing company. It usually took them 20 hours to
complete response. After I rewrote their template, using my advanced
training in Microsoft Word, I reduced their time to complete a response
down to four hours. And I reduced errors by 95%. That's the kind of
information I'm looking for.

And I want to cite sources. Let me know who you are and where you work,
as much as your employer will allow you and you feel comfortable with.
I'll take:

John Q. Public, XYZ Corporation
John Q. Public, automotive manufacturing
John Q. Public, manufacturing
John P.

Thank you for your help.

Dana Cadman


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