Published on November 7th, 2008 | by Rahel Bailie0
Documentation: Cost or Investment?
One of my clients is a leader in their industry. My contact person told me that they strive to exceed the quality norms for their industry as a way of differentiating themselves from the competition. I told them how unusual that attitude is, that to most companies, documentation is a necessary evil which they strive to produce as cheaply as possible at the expense of quality. Their company, I was assured, took quality seriously, and viewed good information as a competitive advantage. (As you can imagine, they are one of my favourite clients.) They knew intuitively what other organizations have found out the hard way: bad documentation costs money. From the government to nursing to consumer products, the hidden costs of inadequate documentation can be astronomical, often with lasting damage to a company’s reputation. A better way to think of documentation is an investment in customer relations. Good documentation–whether that take the form of a manual, online help, or internal specs–creates efficiencies in other areas: customer support, training, and engineering, to name a few. Is this true for all documentation? No, just good documentation, the kind that gets resources, time, and budget assigned to it; in other words, documentation that is treated as an investment.