Value added by technical documentation

Subject: Value added by technical documentation
From: Jay Mead <jlmead -at- OURAY -dot- CUDENVER -dot- EDU>
Date: Sun, 9 Mar 1997 17:36:39 -0700

To keep this value-add thread going, as there seems to be quite a bit of
interest-

We (technical communications pros) can add value in three ways (these
are discussed in Karen Schriver's excellent new book, "Dynamics in
Document Design," on page 77):

--Reduce costs of communication-related activities (e.g., increases in
pages produced per day, lower production costs, etc.).
Potentially useful, but dangerous-some managers would just love to
reduce tech writing value to "pages per day." That would make us at best
clerical, at worst automatons replaceable with the new release of
Microsoft Word 8.0, with so many features it eliminates
the need for a human writer. Still, management of documentation
activities by a communications professional CAN save money.

--Improve return on investment (e.g., by increasing product sales,
productivity, customer satisfaction, etc.).
Very difficult to measure. Has anyone tracked customer complaints about
docs, or tracked returned product due to poor docs?

--Reduce "after sales" costs (e.g., lower training costs, fewer phone
support calls).
This seems easier to measure. For example, there are some studies of
support call reduction due to better docs. If you've done a study like
this, I'd love to hear from you.

Does anyone see their own efforts in one of these three categories?

Jay Mead
Galileo International
jay -dot- mead -at- den -dot- galileo -dot- com

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