Re: Producing books

Subject: Re: Producing books
From: Jill Burgchardt <jburgcha -at- PESTILENCE -dot- ITC -dot- NRCS -dot- USDA -dot- GOV>
Date: Wed, 11 Feb 1998 13:19:12 -0700

When a company is paying a contractor by the hour, they may see an immediate
value in providing the slickest, highest-productivity tools. One way or the
other they'll spend the money, tools or hours billed. (Or, they'll try to
keep both costs down by finding a contractor who already knows and owns the

When a company has a captive full-time employee getting the job done with a
not-quite-the-best tool, the incentive changes. The employee is paid for
their regular work week at a high or low productivity rate. It becomes a
tangible factor when the employee can no longer do the job in the time
allowed. Then, the company will evaluate whether they need a second employee
or can increase the existing employee's productivity by changing tools.

Basic economics: If the company invests in A, they may not have the money
for B. A copy shop may decide they have to have a color copier for the
business. It may only get used 20% of the time. The cost of materials and
maintenance may change with use, but the machine costs the same regardless.
Likewise, it costs the company $XXX per year to have the tech writer on
staff whether the person is working at 80% efficiency or 95% efficiency. If
80% efficiency meets the company's demands for technical writing, why should
the company invest $ to improve the efficiency to 100%. It's like buying
supplies for that copier to be used 100% of the time. That's NOT a good
business decision.

Realistically, companies probably have more their tech writers could do if
more efficient. Or, more could get done if their programmers, engineers, lab
techs, and so on and so on became more efficient. The company has to
identify the greatest need. We aren't always it.

Jill Burgchardt
jburgcha -at- pestilence -dot- itc -dot- nrcs -dot- usda -dot- gov

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