Publication Department Size

Subject: Publication Department Size
From: Jeanine Center <jmc -at- FAME -dot- COM>
Date: Mon, 29 Apr 1996 09:05:08 EDT

Thanks so much to the 13 people who replied to my April 18
query about publications department size in companies of
about 125 employees. Here is a summary of the responses:

Company Size
The companies range in size from 60 to 360 employees, with
nine of the companies having between 100 and 135 employees.
From here on, the information I give applies to these nine

Number of Technical Writers
The number of technical writers per company is almost evenly
distributed in a range from one to six. One department with
three employees is planning to add four more writers in the
next 12 months. Two writers mentioned that their companies
have hired contract writers.

Work Load
Technical writers in six of the nine companies concentrate
primarily on product documentation. Three of the companies
have other departments for writing marketing, training, and
other materials. Technical writers in smaller departments
generally have fewer manuals to write and maintain, although
two writers said they had substantial backlogs, and one said
her department was way overbooked.

How Companies Determine Their Need for Writers
Two writers said that the needs of the company (and luck)
have determined the number of writers in their companies.
One had no idea how his company decides, and another said
it depends on what the company is willing to spend and what
crises have arisen. One writer mentioned hearing about a
ratio in the software industry of one writer for seven
developers. Another writer works in a department where
the ratio is currently four developers to one writer but
will drop to three to one as the company adds writers.

Judging from the responses, the number of writers in a
publications department is more likely to be a matter of
chance events and immediate need than of planning. This
is probably a reflection of the importance a company
places on its product manuals and of where the company is
in its maturity cycle.

Jeanine Center
jmc -at- fame -dot- com

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