Documentation is a cost center
Documentation is a cost center. It’s correlary is that documentation does not add value.
Prakash (Technical Writing: 10 Myths and Facts (Part 1)) refutes this notion by listing several different ways that technical writers add value, but she does not offer any evidence supporting her claims.
Hart (Ten Technical Communication Myths) offers a longer list of technical-writer benefits that are attributed to several studies he cites (Ramey & Redish, 1995; Mead, 1998), but admits that the accounting can be challenging. He also observes that this myth is “something that others believe about us and something that we believe about ourselves,” and that “it’s past time we began changing management perceptions so that they understand our true value.”
- Hart offers the advice that writers should “Do some of the work necessary to define this value, and management will begin taking you more seriously.” Although, it would nice if he offered some more specific guidance.
- This isn’t always the case, and seems to depend on the organizaiton and the accounting methods they use.
- It is disappointing that so little progress has been made in the area of measuring the value of technical communcation this long after Hart’s observations made in 2000 (and all those of all who have preceded him).
- Ramey, J. A., & Redish, J. C. (1995). Measuring the value that you add to your company: Planning your own case study on reducing support costs. In nnual Conference-Society For Technical Communication (Vol. 42, pp. 77-78). SOCIETY FOR TECHNICAL COMMUNICATION.
- Mead, J. 1998. “Measuring the value added by technical communication: A review of research and practice.” Technical communication 45, no. 3:353–379. SOCIETY FOR TECHNICAL COMMUNICATION.