Why is it that companies view the cost of Technical and Process documentation as an unnecessary expenditure rather than viewing documentation as a centre of knowledge? Management seems to have a blind spot when it comes to documentation and conveniently forgets the role of documentation.
When redundancies beckon, I know how quickly the technical documentation department will be sacrificed. When management seeks layoffs, the technical author(s) will be amongst the first out the door. Months later a member of staff points out that the documentation is out of date and follows up by asking: do we have anything up to date we can use?
In sacking the technical documentation team, no one assumed responsibility. Keeping it up to date is left to those least inclined to keep it up to date. They are the people who would benefit most from its upkeep.
Within a software environment, we easily forget that as the developers progress their software application, it also becomes more complex. Failing to supply up to date documentation means customers can and do overlook many of the improvements and advanced features. The same could be said of any IT department. As the network grows, there are more questions and fewer answers. No one has a good overall knowledge of the network due to the lack of documentation.
Where does that leave technical writers?
However, you refer to us, be it technical authors, communicators, documentation staff or as the font of all knowledge. Never doubt our experience, our people skills, our ability to write clear instructions. We can explain complex technical terms in easy to read formats. Who else is willing to put up with blank stares, sarcastic comments and listen to comments such as “whaddya want now?’ to get what your company needs; usable documentation.
Remember it is not about the cost of hiring a technical author. It is about our value to your organisation. Our documentation will keep your staff informed and up to date. There is a point to keeping your processes up to date as your working environment changes. It is also about keeping that software guide up to date enabling your customers to use your product more efficiently and know they invested in a superb product.
Finally, don’t forget that a technical author will not only you save money now but also at a later date and will keep on saving you money, therefore, over the long term justifying their value to your business.