Re: Pecentage of techwriters in relation to other employees

Subject: Re: Pecentage of techwriters in relation to other employees
From: Robert Plamondon <robert -at- PLAMONDON -dot- COM>
Date: Thu, 14 Mar 1996 08:24:50 PST

Ron Rothbard writes:
>Does anyone have or know where I might get the following information:

>Average or optimum number/percentage of techwriters in relation to
>engineering employees and/or total employees at software firms.

>Number/percentage of techwriters in relation to engineering or total
>employees at some specific software firms.

The need for customer documentation varies according to the audience.
I have heard of end-user-oriented companies with one writer per software
engineer. There are plenty of companies whose users are engineers (or
other highly trained users) with fifty engineers per writer.

Much also depends on the product. If I were a toaster manufacturer,
bringing out three new toasters a year, I would get my pamphlets written
and illustrated with a few weeks of contractor time, and they would be
just fine. It all depends on how much of the complexity if visible
to the user. A clerk in a store can process credit-card charges without
understanding international banking, so the documentation is trivial
compared to the engineering effort. On the other hand, many products
are needlessly complex, taking a relatively simple task and obscuring
it through bizarre procedures. VCR programming comes to mind. In
this case, tech writers and customer support compensate for poor
initial design. Finally, some tasks are just plain complicated,
and require careful step-by-step explanations. Look at a shop
manual for a car, for instance.

-- 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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