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RE: Convincing management of the value of documentation?
Subject:RE: Convincing management of the value of documentation? From:"Porrello, Leonard" <lporrello -at- illumina -dot- com> To:"keithpurtell -at- keithpurtell -dot- com" <keithpurtell -at- keithpurtell -dot- com>, "techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com> Date:Mon, 19 Mar 2012 17:14:56 +0000
If you want to stick with this employer and aim for a promotion, you may want survey the people who do onboarding and calculate how much onboarding costs per new employee. Then, create the onboarding documentation that will greatly reduce how much time is spent with new hires. Do the math, and when you release the documents, talk about how much the company stands to save. You can also mention the soft benefit of new approach, which will favor self-directed new hires over those who need a lot of personal hand holding (unless your boss doesn't want self-directed employees). I should add that how you get your data, evangelize your documents, and time your ROI announcement should be informed by the dynamics of your particular company.
Regarding tech pubs ROI in general, if your company has a tech support call center, you need to collaborate with them to get information that will reduce call volumes into end-user documents. If you have metrics that demonstrate that call volume as gone down by x% since the new documentation has been released, you can tie that directly to cost savings, and that is a great argument for ROI for tech writing investment.
What you can do will depend on the psychology of the CEO and the company culture. It might be the case that the CEO isn't fully literate and this is why he feels he needs to devalue the work of those who are fully literate. If it is the case that he puts down writers as a defense mechanism, then nothing will change his mind. Another political problem may have to do with tech support. Maybe the tech support manager wants to increase head count (and thereby his or her own stature in the organization), so the last thing he or she will want is fewer calls.
If you can't add value to change perceptions, do what Peter Neilson suggested.
From: techwr-l-bounces+lporrello=illumina -dot- com -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com [mailto:techwr-l-bounces+lporrello=illumina -dot- com -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com] On Behalf Of Keith Purtell
Sent: Sunday, March 18, 2012 9:53 PM
To: techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
Subject: Convincing management of the value of documentation?
I've been working for several months at a digital publishing company.
Most of my job deals with PDF-to-image conversion for magazine publishers. A month into the job, the production manager took me aside and said he tries to give people opportunities to advance based on their talents. He pointed out that we're working at an IT company where no one has ever written documentation on any of our proprietary in-house software or systems. (I formerly wrote documentation for Sprint.) As things stand, every time someone new is hired, an existing employee has to drop what he's doing and spend more than a week training the new person. The production manager asked me to start work on some of our core procedures and said this would give me a chance to be promoted.
However, our CEO has an odd attitude about staff's skills and their value. He pays most of us less than other IT companies in the city. He once stated that our job was so easy that "a ninth-grader could do it."
He's sending one co-worker to Germany just to learn about a proposed new intranet system, but he doesn't want to pay people like me any more money. Are there references I can use to illustrate for him why a documentation manager is worth the investment?
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