The most successful companies bring their technical writers into the loop at the outset of a project, according to a new study by the Aberdeen Group. Back in February, I blogged about the importance of including writers from the earliest stages of a project; it’s good to see that there is evidence to bear out my contention of the writer’s added value.
According to the Society for Technical Communication, the study, which was co-sponsored by STC, the UK-based Institute of Scientific and Technical Communicators, and the Center for Information-Development Management, that finding was among the most important results of an online survey of over 300 companies.
The study report, The Next-Generation Product Documentation Report: Getting Past the “Throw it over the Wall” Approach by Chad Jackson and Mehul Shah, looked at five key performance indicators:
- product launch date
- documentation cost
- translation cost
- documentation purpose
- documentation quality
Nearly three-quarters of the respondent companies that scored highest on these five indicators reported that they launched their documentation and product development processes simultaneously. According to the study, top-ranking companies were also likely to:
- integrate the documentation staff into the engineering department;
- rely on document authoring tools that facilitate content repurposing;
- use software to minimize content localization lags; and
- measure readability by tracking content resue.
Managers, the results are in: keep your friends close, but keep your technical writers closer.