Re: What's the pricing spread?

Subject: Re: What's the pricing spread?
From: Pete Kloppenburg <pkloppen -at- CERTICOM -dot- CA>
Date: Mon, 28 Apr 1997 11:42:59 -0400

Jonathan Leer writes (of documentation pricing):
> The problem with technical communications today is that those doing the =
> work have no working knowledge of the $ involved, other than what they =
> are getting paid. This is ridiculous if we are to understand the market =
> and be competitive.

Perhaps we should cross post this thread to some sort of economics
graduate student list. Because I bet a rigorous cost/benefit analysis
of product documentation would be a meaty subject for some doctoral
candidate somewhere. It's way way way above my head, and I
certainly wouldn't be put in the position of having to come up with a
number for what I do.

In addition to the point which Jonathan raises and quotes from other
replies, I would add another. I always tend to view documentation as
mainly a method to *reduce* costs - different from being a cost in and of
itself, but not quite a profit center. Thorough documentation tends to be
an effective part of the QA process, and if it comes in early in the
development cycle, the most efficient kind of testing. I have always
worn a tester's hat when writing as a matter of course, and no doubt I
have saved my company plenty as a result.

Of course, good documentation also reduces support costs, too. That
has always been my answer when challenged about the value of
documentation in a job interview or in some casual dust up around
the water cooler.

Now, I can only speak from a software industry point of view. No doubt
there are other factors to consider in other industries.

The point I am working so hard to make here is that technical writing,
and documentation in particular, is a complicated activity, economically
speaking. There are generally no direct benefits from it, only side benefits.
And those are the hardest to calculate. So if anyone comes knocking on my
cubicle door and asks me to pin a value on my activity, they're in for a
disappointment. At best I'll give them a long-winded vague rambling answer.
If I'm in a bad mood, I might tell them to get bent.

My opinion, fwiw.

Pete Kloppenburg - pkloppen -at- certicom -dot- com
Technical Writer
Mississauga, Ontario

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