Re: Testing the Value of Docs

Subject: Re: Testing the Value of Docs
From: Robert Plamondon <robert -at- PLAMONDON -dot- COM>
Date: Sat, 8 Mar 1997 20:20:19 PST

On Thu, 6 Mar 1997, Jay Mead wrote:

> We know the quality technical communication we produce adds value to an
> organization, but how can we measure it, in terms management
> will understand? Have any of you developed ways of calculating the
> dollars-and-cents value of your technical documentation? Ways that can be
> replicated and used across organizations?

This can be determined directly through test-marketing. Create two
versions of the documentation, divide your customers (or potential
customers) into two equivalent groups, and measure the differences
in customer response. For example, good advertising draws more requests
for information, good sales literature leads to more sales meetings and
more initial design-ins, and good engineering documentation leads to
more designs that work and can be put into production smoothly.

While few companies have either the manpower or the nerve to intentionally
shortchange customers with a redundant set of documentation, one often
ends up doing much the same thing by accident. One product line will
have truly dreadful, unprofessional, incomplete documentation through
some managerial misadventure, while a similar product will have the good
stuff. A few such opportunities might yield interesting results.

-- Robert
Robert Plamondon, 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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