Technical Writing and Return on Investment
Generally the investment in technical writing is driven by a desire to reduce costs with customer support, training, and product development. I specialized in procedure writing. Procedures as a specific genre of technical writing are seen as an investment to avoid mistakes, reduce or avoid down time, avoid injury and equipment damage, and ensure compliance with legal and regulatory requirements.
Measuring the value of technical writer often is not going be an obvious or specific line item on the balance sheet, but can be measured indirectly by evaluating the previously mentioned reasons for investing in technical writing. One example is whether development time is reduced or there is a reduction in customer support requests. Customer support is expensive, especially when in today’s environment profit margins are thin and product life cycles are measured in only a few years. Another example is whether down time, injuries, or equipment damage are reduced.
Few people would invest in technical writing unless there was a return on that investment. Commonly large companies post technical writing job positions. Large companies have serious bean counters on staff. If such people are advertising for tech writers then they see a return on investment. A $100,000/year salary reduces support costs by $1 million/year? Or reduces development time and saves several million per year? Even a newbie accountant can do that math.
While many people write reasonably well, a seasoned technical writing is a significant asset. Good technical writers see both the trees and the forest, and are a bridge between engineers and customers.