Re: Rightsizing vs. quality

Subject: Re: Rightsizing vs. quality
From: Robert Plamondon <robert -at- PLAMONDON -dot- COM>
Date: Fri, 10 Nov 1995 07:21:05 PST

Rick Lippincott writes:

>You get what you pay for. If you pay enough, you get quality. If you don't
>pay enough, you get garbage. I think it's as simple as that.

You're dreaming. Expenditure and quality are barely correlated at all.
Plenty of people pay vast amounts of money and get garbage in return.
Also, engaging people who are true masters of their craft, at elevated rates,
tends to be cheaper than dealing with pedestrian craftsmen at pedestrian rates.

At some point, of course, there isn't enough money to pay for the labor
to do what needs to be done. But lowball outfits are usually screwed
up in a variety of ways (they tend to be fundamentally incompetent),
so the results would be much the same even if you paid them three
times as much to allow them to do it right.

Getting good tech docs is an exercise in Management 101 principles:

1. Know what you want
2. Find someone who is skilled at that kind of work, and tell them exactly
what you need.
3. Give them what they need to get the job done.

Most managers who start publications projects fail at step #1 -- they
wouldn't know an effective document plan if it hit them in the face.
The real tragedy of rightsizing is that there is typically one person
in a Tech Pubs department who can put together a workable documentation
roadmap -- but the company often doesn't realize that the department
will cease functioning properly if this person leaves. Such people
typically editors.

The loss of the editor usually means that the survivors consist of
managers who know only that they want "good documentation," but
can't expand on the concept, and writers who are uncomfortable with
planning a suite of documents to meet corporate goals. The result
is anger, stress, turnover, and bad documentation.

-- Robert

Robert Plamondon * President/Managing Editor, High-Tech Technical Writing, Inc.
36475 Norton Creek Road * Blodgett * Oregon * 97326
robert -at- plamondon -dot- com * (541) 453-5841 * Fax: (541) 453-4139

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