Cost of Documentation

Subject: Cost of Documentation
From: Chet Ensign <Chet_Ensign%LDS -at- NOTES -dot- WORLDCOM -dot- COM>
Date: Mon, 20 May 1996 09:32:35 -0500

Michael J Maloney writes:

> The "return on investment" of technical documentation is nearly
> impossible to measure (if it exists at all). ... However, let's say
> you're producing technical documentation for chain saw
> use ... the manufacturer (deep pockets) can lose a fortune in
> liability cases.

There was a thread about liability awhile back. I seem to remember a couple of
people mentioning that their company or companies that they were familiar with
had been sued because of accidents traced to faulty documentation.

John Bosak, formerly of Novell now of SunSoft, called this "the trucks that
didn't hit you." I agree with Michael that this is stuff difficult or
impossible to measure by ROI. It's part of a larger theme in IS -- I'm looking
right now at a paper titled "The Value Brokers" by Brian McWilliams reprinted
on the Web. (Sorry I can't find the URL right now but if you do an Alta-Vista
search you should turn it up immediately.) The paper describes ROI as a "flawed
financial yardstick" and suggests that it should only be one part of a value
analysis for any IS investment.

I believe that documentation in an extremely broad sense of the word has to be
viewed as a strategic issue for companies rather than as a cost issue.
Arguments about the trucks that won't hit you are one way to bring the issue
home.

Best regards,

/chet

Chet Ensign
Logical Design Solutions
465 South Street http://www.lds.com
Morristown, NJ 07960 censign -at- lds -dot- com [email]
201-971-0100 [Phone] 201-971-0103 [FAX]

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