RE: ROI on hiring tech comms vs. SMEs

Subject: RE: ROI on hiring tech comms vs. SMEs
From: "William Sherman" <bsherman77 -at- embarqmail -dot- com>
To: <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Tue, 12 Jun 2012 16:59:42 -0400

As SME is a sore spot with me, I'll have to say that at most places I have
been, the technical writer was the subject matter expert.

However, I think you are referring to the engineer who in most cases I found
is NOT the subject matter expert. They may be the expert on the design but
you find the assembly line person is the expert on how it goes together
(thus you can figure how it comes apart), the tech is the expert on what
makes it work and what makes it work again when it doesn't, and the
programmer is the expert on what makes it think and function.

Rarely is this handled by one person. The only one close to knowing all of
it, thus being the subject matter expert, is the tech writer.

While I haven't answered your question on ROI, it seems to me you are asking
is it better to have a person dedicated to knowing all of it or having a
person who only knows his slice of it. You may spend more money due to
adding a technical writer, but a good one will pull all the pieces together
along with being sure all the "T"s are dotted and the "I"s crossed. It is
rare to find an engineer who does more than include the bare minimum of

In some places, they would have a person called a systems engineer who knows
all of it, but frequently, I have found system engineer to merely be a title
given after an engineer reaches a certain level in his job and needs a
higher pay rating. Quite frequently, they are still subsystem engineers,
just a different title.

Since this is heavy equipment, is this for Caterpillar?

If you were talking a software product, then hiring a fluent programmer
might be a good idea as the programmer may know all aspects of the software
product, although that seems to be something programmed out of most.

With the current state of education systems in the US, unless you are
dealing with a technician, engineer, or programmer who is over 50 years old,
odds are his/her command of English and grammar are not up to the task, and
he is proud of that fact.

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Behalf Of BBEGIN -at- aol -dot- com
Sent: Thursday, June 07, 2012 2:54 PM
To: techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
Cc: BBEGIN -at- aol -dot- com
Subject: ROI on hiring tech comms vs. SMEs

Does anyone have ROI figures on the benefits of hiring a technical
communicator who will work with SMEs, rather than a SME without tech comm
experience who might be hired to document maintenance procedures? This is in
a heavy equipment setting.
Comparisons for which I have no dollar amounts are:
- Salary
- Time to structure the content
- Time to follow style guides
- Document verification
Other areas? Dollar comparisons?


Beth Lisberg Najberg

Chicago, IL

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ROI on hiring tech comms vs. SMEs: From: BBEGIN

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